Huddersfield Giants coach Simon Woolford says his side are getting better every week after toppling second-placed Wigan 20-12 at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Winger Darnell McIntosh scored two tries for the second successive week , taking his tally to six in his last four matches, as the Giants claimed a seventh win from their last eight Betfred Super League matches to climb up to seventh place.
“It was very satisfying,” said Woolford, whose side face Castleford and Wakefield on the next two Fridays in their final regular-season matches.
“We knew defensively we had to be on our game and I thought we were.
“They scored the first try, and a dubious one at best, but we kept defending our line and working for each other and that’s the most important thing.
“We weren’t great with the ball and we took a little step backwards with our attack but from a defensive point of view we were outstanding.
“They’re just getting better every week.
“The belief in the group is growing and that’s only going to benefit us in the coming weeks.”
With another resurgent team, Catalans Dragons, earning a 22-22 draw at Warrington, the spotlight falls on tonight’s derby between Leeds and Wakefield, the two teams directly below the Giants in the table.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t keeping an eye on it,” Woolford said.
“It’s obviously important with a couple of games to go.”
Alex Mellor and Leroy Cudjoe scored Huddersfield’s other tries and their victory would have been even more emphatic but for an off day with the boot by Danny Brough, who missed all four conversion attempts.
“It was unlike Broughy,” Woolford said. “Apparently the kicking tee he usually uses has disappeared so he was using a different one.
“He had a bit of an off night with the goal-kicking but I thought late in the game he came up with great general-play kicks. His experience really shone through in the last 20 minutes.”
Wigan scored first and last through Sam Tomkins and Tom Davies but were outplayed for long periods in between and a first defeat in 12 meetings with Huddersfield means they cannot catch St Helens before the start of the Super 8s.
They lost skipper Sean O’Loughlin midway through the first half with a recurrence of a calf strain and coach Shaun Wane was forced to give a debut to 18-year-old Samy Kabula after John Bateman pulled out late with a groin problem.
“We were poor,” Wane said. “There were too many pressure releases, our skill was poor and we gave away too many penalties.
“We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win the game, it just wasn’t good enough.
“We had a bit of disruption with a young back-rower playing in the centre and a front-row playing in the back row, and then we lost Lockers.
“But they were the best team. It meant a great deal to them, you could see that with the way they celebrated at the end.”
It was far from ideal preparation for Wigan’s next match, a derby with table-topping St Helens next Thursday.
“We got beat and we’re hurting so that’s a good thing going into the Saints game,” Wane said.
“I would rather have won this game but we won’t need any motivating for Thursday.”