HUDDERSFIELD Giants are determined to end their temporary stay at The Shay in explosive style – and make sure that continues when they make their high-profile return to the Galpharm Stadium at the end of the month.
The Giants have already beaten in-form Catalan Dragons and Castleford Tigers in their first two games in Halifax and hope to make it a hat-trick of Super League triumphs ‘on the road’ against Crusaders tomorrow (3.00).
The three fixtures have been staged at The Shay to enable the Galpharm Stadium pitch to be re-laid.
Work on the new surface is now well advanced and will be completed in time for the Giants to host Hull KR on Sunday, July 31.
Plans are being put in place to make sure the ‘Return of the Giants’ proves to be a blockbuster rugby league event, with Huddersfield favourite Eorl Crabtree knowing a five-star show in their final Shay fixture will raise the excitement level ahead of the trip back ‘home’.
“I think we’ve all thoroughly enjoyed our time at The Shay,” said Crabtree.
“They do say a change can be as good as a rest, and that’s been the case for all of us with these short trips away.
“And to go there and win both games so far has obviously been a bonus. The win over Catalan, in particular, was a good one because they were the form team in Super League at the time, while we scored some good tries in the victory over Cas.
“But as well as savouring the successes, we’ve also savoured what has been a pretty special atmopshere at The Shay.
“What we’ve really liked about the stadium is that it’s very compact and the fans are close to the action. It means you can hear everything they’re saying, although at times you’d rather not!
“But even with just over 5,000 in the ground, the place has been buzzing. Everyone seems to have bought into our stay there.
“Having said all that, though, we still can’t wait to get back to the Galpharm.
“The pitch is starting to look impressive already and it’ll be fantastic to get onto it at the end of the month for what should be an amazing occasion.
“The club are looking to pull out all the stops to make sure the place is absolutely rocking against Hull KR and, even though the match is right at the end of the month, we’re already feeling pretty excited about it.
“That excitement is bound to grow the nearer we get to the game, particularly if we can get back to some of our best form, and part of that process is making sure we put in a quality performance in our last ‘home’ game at The Shay against Crusaders tomorrow.
“Obviously, the main reason for putting in a quality display this weekend is to get the bitterly disappointing defeat at Wigan last week out of our system, but to give our fans a final fond memory of our time at The Shay before we return to Huddersfield would definitely be a bonus.”
The Giants are strong favourites to beat Super League’s bottom club and erase the memory of last Saturday’s heavy 46-12 defeat at champions Wigan Warriors.
But after the Welsh side beat Huddersfield 32-8 in Wrexham on Good Friday – it’s one of just four Crusaders’ successes this season! – Crabtree knows the visitors can’t be taken for granted.
“The defeat at their place earlier in the year was a really tough one to take, although it’s not the only disappointing loss I’ve experienced in over 10 years here!” he reflected.
“And it’s certainly not a case of feeling we owe them one for what they did to us that day.
“In a way, all it’s done is made us appreciate again how we can’t afford to take anything for granted against them.
“Even though they’re bottom of the table, they’ve got a few players who we’ve got to watch out carefully.
“I don’t really want to pick out individuals, but they’ve got a pretty big forward pack and they work hard for each other, and their backs are pretty quick as well, with a lot of skill.
“As as result, we’ll going into the game to play hard, we’re going to play fast and we’ve got to just make sure we do the things right we’ve talked about during video and in training this week.
“I don’t view the game as a ‘must win’.
“We’d like to, we’d be disappointed if we didn’t, but I think it’s more about performance at the moment, because the way we’ve been playing is not where we want to be.”
Giants: Grix, Lawrence, Cudjoe, Gilmour, Hodgson, Brown, Crabtree, Robinson, Griffin, O’Donnell, Fa’alogo, Mason, Kirmond, Patrick, McGillvary, Wood, McNally, Wardle, Ferguson.
Referee: Mr S Ganson
The Giants will be wearing their claret and gold principal kit