THE champagne rugby is flowing at Huddersfield Giants!
Head coach Nathan Brown’s side produced arguably Huddersfield’s best-ever all-round Super League performance to completely destroy in-form Wakefield.
Their hosts may have gone into the contest having beaten Leeds Rhinos in their last home game and then pushed St Helens all the week at Knowsley Road a week later.
But the Wildcats simply had no answer to the sheer class of the Giants of 2010.
In every department Huddersfield were light years ahead of their shell-shocked opponents.
For starters, they were faster, stronger and fitter and, as a result, produced a virtuoso attacking display that would have been the envy of almost any side playing this game around the world.
And on top of that, they have the defence to match.
Last season, they conceded less points than any other, and the early signs suggest it’s an achievement that could easily be repeated in Super League XV.
In their last three top-flight fixtures, the Giants have twice ‘nilled’ their opponents – it was 30-0 at Hull KR 15 days ago before this dream 52-0 result at the Wildcats.
But in that victory over on the east coast, Brown had been critical of his side’s execution, believing a lot of hard work was still required on his side’s attack.
And, boy, has the work paid off!
Huddersfield’s left-hand side cut through the Wildcats’ defence like a knife through butter, with Kevin Brown, Lee Gilmour, Paul Whatuira and David Hodgson combining to breathtaking effect.
For good measure, Leroy Cudjoe also spent time joining in the fun, coming into the line from full-back to provide a valuable helping hand.
The Giants’ right is also progressing nicely, with new boy David Fa’alogo, in particular, becoming an increasing threat with every game he plays.
To say he’s starting to adapt to the British game and has recovered well from close-season knee and ankle surgery is an understatement.
The New Zealand World Cup winner is noted for his strong runs out wide, but it’s safe to assume Brown didn’t recruit him primarily as a tryscorer.
But the powerful back-rower has already provided the bonus of crossing for two scores in his first five games, with a highly-charged close-range effort setting his side on their way against the Wildcats.
And the way the Giants got into the position for Fa’alogo to score also came from an unexpected source in the shape of a Shaun Lunt 40-20.
The hooker possesses a wide range of attacking skills, but until this contest a tactical boot of this effectiveness wasn’t recognised as being one of them.
However, with the scrum having been won in the Wakefield 20, it wasn’t long before Lunt was playing a far more accustomed role, feeding Fa’alogo with a pass from acting half-back to crash over for Cudjoe to land the first of his six conversions from 10 attempts.
That opener came after six minutes, and by the 13th minute the lead had been extended to 18 points as the Giants began to tear Wakefield’s right apart.
Clearly wanting to be a part of a good thing, Luke Robinson switched to the left and combined superbly with Gilmour and Whatuira to feed the New Zealand centre for the second score.
Then, minutes later, Robinson again popped up on the left to feed Martin Aspinwall with a wonderful short delayed pass to cruise over for his first of the season.
Although Wakefield did then have a brief spell of pressure, they found it impossible to unlock such a watertight defence, and in the 22nd minute came try No4. It was again on the back of some glorious passing, starting off with a scintillating break from deep involving Robinson, Brown and Whatuira.
Although that move was thwarted on the Wildcats 20, it only delayed the inevitable, with Whatuira and Hodgson racing ahead for Cudjoe to finish off.
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At 22-0 after 23 minutes, a third win of the season already looked to be in the bag.
But that certainly didn’t mean the visitors were far from finished – despite having to wait a further nine minutes to extend their advantage.
Larne Patrick’s lightning break from deep – his speed for a front-row forward is nothing short of incredible – paved the way for a try that was arguably even better than the others.
This time the passing skills were on show down Huddersfield’s right, with quick hands from Fa’alogo and Michael Lawrence finding Jamahl Lolesi on the wing.
He then stepped back inside to Scott Grix who raced onto the ball like a missile to explode over the line for a try against the club he left at the end of last season.
The home side did threaten to open their account just before the break when Danny Brough picked up a loose ball on halfway and raced away.
But Lolesi showed magnificent pace to come across and cut off the danger to make sure the Giants tryline remained intact.
And that was about as close as Wakefield got throughout the game, with Huddersfield carrying on from where they left off at the start of the second half. Within four minutes of the restart any hopes of a second-half revival had been dashed as Whatuira and Brown again cut loose to feed Gilmour for his try Huddersfield try.
Again Wakefield did attempt to apply some pressure, with little reward.
And in the final 18 minutes, the Giants added four more tries to underline their total superiority.
Good hand from Gilmour and Whatuira put Hodgson in at the corner before Brown’s dummy and 25m dart gave Grix the chance to grab his second under the posts.
And as the Wildcats began to tire, Patrick and Lunt took full advantage to find a way over from close range from scores nine and 10 to seal an amazing 80 minutes.