THERE was no dream debut for new big signing Danny Brough as the Giants crumbled to their third defeat of the season at the hands of St Helens.
Hopes were high Huddersfield would have more than enough to see off last season’s Super League Grand Finalists after winning their last three games and with Brough ready to pull the attacking strings.
But on the day, the Giants came up well short.
They lacked the punch up front and the creative spark out wide to get the better of a Saints side who took their chances well and defended manfully from start to finish.
Huddersfield did create as many tryscoring opportunities as their visitors, but they simply lacked the execution to find that killer blow.
Hopefully, that’s something that will soon be re-discovered, especially when Brough begins to find his Giants feet.
Starting the game on the bench, the 26-year-old scrum half didn’t enter the fray until the 24th minute, and there were glimpses of the class that should soon make him a major asset.
But on the back of just a couple of run-throughs with his new teammates, it was always going to be something of a thankless task making his debut against opponents of such repute.
Hopefully, therefore, Brough will have far more of a say at home to Catalans Dragons on Good Friday when getting back to winning ways will obviously be the top priority.
On paper, it should be achieved, as the fixture should be far more straight forward than a clash against a Saints side who made it clear they meant business from the start.
St Helens had the advantage of a very strong wind in the first half and wasted little time making the most of it.
Within minutes the visitors were on the offensive and took the lead after six minutes when Kyle Eastmond kept the ball alive, creating the opening for Francis Meli to crash over in the corner.
And with the Giants’ kicking game exceptionally poor as a result of the blustery conditions, it was no great surprise that Saints were able to maintain the pressure and increase their lead 10 minutes later.
England prop James Graham’s explosive break from deep did the damage, scattering the hosts’ defence before releasing Gary Wheeler who in turn fed Meli to race away for his second.
Eastmond landed the conversion, and at 10-0 a very difficult afternoon looked in store.
But the more the game progressed, the more Huddersfield began to assert some authority.
Midway through the half, Stephen Wild crossed the tryline only to be called back for a forward pass from Shaun Lunt, and then two minutes later Luke Robinson’s long-range break would have produced a try had Leon Pryce not produced an excellent cover tackle on the Saints’ 40.
The Giants were over again after 27 minutes through David Hodgson, but Paul Whatuira had knocked the ball forward to his winger after failing to collect Kevin Brown’s bullet pass.
Robinson was then held up over the tryline as another chance went begging.
But with the advantage of the wind behind them after the break, the home side were desperate to make full use of the elements.
And they couldn’t have asked for a better start.
Within a minute of the restart, Meli was unable to gather a Danny Brough ‘bomb’ as the Giants went straight onto the attack and three minutes later another Brough towering kick forced Saints to drop-out from under their posts.
Although Huddersfield were unable to benefit immediately, the pressure soon took its toll and by the 49th minute, the home side had reduced the deficit with their opening try of the contest.
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Great approach play, with Andy Raleigh almost inevitably to the fore, put Saints on the back foot and the ball was worked to the right for Kevin Brown’s long pass to find Scott Grix on the wing to sprint in.
Brett Hodgson landed a magnificent touchline conversion and at 10-6 the Giants were right back in it.
Unfortunately, however, they were unable to capitalise on their new-found belief.
Despite the balance of power appearing to have turned, Saints began to claw their way back after 55 minutes on the back of Eastmond’s penalty to make it 12-6.
And with 13 minutes remaining that lead was extended to 12 points after two controversial refereeing decisions.
First, the Giants were penalised for offside on the back of a clear Saints’ forward pass.
Then from the subsequent set, the position was created for Graham to crash over from close range, although it appeared the defence had held him up, as they were keen to point out to Mr Alibert!
That, of course, made no difference.
The try was awarded, Eastmond converted and at 18-6, the visitors were back in control.
Jamahl Lolesi’s break almost gave Grix his second in the 75th minute, but his pass was ruled forward, before Eastmond wrapped up the contest with a close-range converted score to seal the Giants’ fate.