MAKESHIFT Huddersfield Giants produced a battling display before going down 32-22 in the their opening pre-season friendly of the season at Castleford Tigers.
With so many senior players still on the sidelines this was always going to be a tough first test for coach Nathan Brown’s men.
However, there were still many positives to take from the contest ahead of Thursday’s trip to Wigan in their next pre-season outing.
Giants chief Nathan Brown sprung several selection surprises, with the most notable being Greg Eden at full-back and Scott Grix starting at scrum-half.
And Eden was one of four new boys in the run-on side, with Luke George on the wing, Tommy Lee at hooker and Jason Chan in the second row.
But the early signs for the new-look Giants were far from encouraging as Castleford raced into a deserved 10-0 lead after 11 minutes.
With Super League Man of Steel Rangi Chase pulling the strings at stand-off, the Tigers were over after their first attack in the third minute when former Giants hooker Ryan Hudson finished off a fine move.
Kirk Dixon failed to convert, but made no mistake with his second effort eight minutes later after Danny Orr had twice kicked ahead before touching down.
At that stage it was not looking good for the Giants who were struggling to get into their stride, probably because of the number of player returning after pre-season surgery.
But as the half progressed the Giants warmed to their task, with the impressive Chan to the fore.
And it was no surprise when the visitors reduced the deficit as ex-Castleford player Danny Brough picked up an offload and raced away to score and added the goal himself.
In the 33rd minute Brown’s men were ahead for the first time as skipper Scott Grix kicked ahead a Brough bomb and Joe Wardle was first to react and touchdown – Brough added the goal.
Oliver Holmes regained the lead for the hosts with a converted try on the stroke of half-time but within a minute of the restart it was all change as Jermaine McGillvary won the race to a kick through to touchdown, and Brough added the touchline kick.
It took Castleford 20 minutes regain the initiative when Lee Mitchell burst on to a short pass and charged over and three minutes later Chase stepped through the Giants defence to finish with Dixon’s goal making it 26-18.
Giants wasted little time in finishing response as Luke Robinson’s long pass enabled McGillvary to squeeze in at the corner for his second try, though Eden failed to convert.
Once again the Giants sensed victory but Daryl Clark sprinted in to with five minutes remaining to extend the Tigers lead to 10 points.
Castleford Tigers: McGoldrick; Clare, Griffin, Arundel, Dixon; Chase, Orr; Nash, Hudson, Massey, Holmes, Snitch, Jones. Interchange: Mitchell, Emmitt, Shaw, Thompson, Clark, Atkinson, Owen. Milner, Davies.
Tries: Hudson, Orr, Holmes, Clark, Chase, Mitchell.
Goals: Dixon (4).
Huddersfield Giants: Eden; McGillvary, Wardle, Cudjoe, George; Brough, Grix; Crabtree, Lee, A Walker, Sarsfield, Chan, Lunt. Interchange: Gilmour, Johnson, Fairbank, Molloy, Robinson, Mason, Cording, S Walker.
Tries: Brough, Wardle, McGillvary (2).
Goals: Brough (3)
Referee: James Child.