NATHAN BROWN must be sick of the sight of Tony Smith’s Warrington Wolves!
Last season, Brown’s Giants were beaten by the Wire in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley and also suffered their heaviest defeat of 2009, going down 40-18 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in May.
And that frustrating Warrington record has continued with a bruising 14-10 Galpharm defeat in a contest that really could have gone either way.
Both teams had more than enough chances to take the honours.
But in the end it was Chris Hicks’ solitary second-half effort that made all the difference in the world and condemned the Giants to their second defeat in four Super League XV starts.
Hopes had been high Huddersfield would have enough firepower to see off a Warrington side beaten 22-20 at home to Wigan in what was by far the most physical and demanding fixture of the season so far.
Such was the nature of that contest that the big question was whether the Wolves could rise again against a Giants side that had cruised to a 30-0 victory at Hull KR seven days before.
It didn’t take too long to get an answer – and for the home side it wasn’t the one they wanted.
Within three minutes, Warrington hit the front as Huddersfield conceded their first points in almost 100 minutes of top-flight action.
Great handling along the line opened up the Giants defensive ranks and the impressive Matt King was on hand to take full advantage to score a try converted by Richie Myler.
But, thankfully, that proved a wake-up call for the hosts, with stand-off Kevin Brown pulling all the strings.
His magical solo break from 40m out set his side on the way, creating the opportunity for Luke Robinson and Paul Whatuira to take the play to the line.
Only King’s last-ditch tackle on Whatuira prevented the New Zealand Test centre from scoring but, with the Wolves stretched, the ball was quickly worked to the left for Brown to dummy his way over.
Brett Hodgson was unable to add the conversion, but the captain made no mistake six minutes later as the Giants hit the front for the first and only time on the back of a second cracking score.
On the sixth tackle, Brown chipped ahead on halfway, the supporting Lee Gilmour collected and then fed Whatuira to race over for a highly memorable effort.
Hodgson’s goal made it 10-6, and the outlook was bright.
That would certainly have been the case had Andy Raleigh not been denied by an excellent tackle by Simon Grix under the posts six minutes later.
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Had Raleigh scored, the Wolves may have been hard pressed to force their way back.
Instead, the visitors’ response was almost immediate and, on the back of the Giants conceding back-to-back penalties, they created the opening for King to dive over on the opposite side to his opening effort.
Myler’s conversion attempt hit the crossbar, but at 10-10 the game was hanging perfectly in the balance at half-time.
Huddersfield did have their chances to regain the lead just before the break, when Shaun Lunt lost the ball in the act of trying to score through heavy traffic in the 39th and then early in the second half following a good Gilmour break and another Lunt close-call.
But Warrington were also continuing to make their presence felt and midway through that second 40 they began to turn the screw.
Myler just lost the ball attempting to score in the 57th minute after Michael Lawrence had been placed on report for an alleged spear tackle on Grix.
Yet the visitors made no mistake seven minutes later with the winning score.
Great hands down the Giants left caused the defence to be stretched and Hicks was on hand to collect out wide and cut back between his markers to finish off superbly.
Myler was unable to land the touchline conversion, but the Wolves had struck the killer blow.
Huddersfield did have a sniff of the Warrington line on several more occasions, but this was not to be the Giants’ day.