DETERMINED Huddersfield Giants produced a powerful second-half performance to storm to a 24-16 derby triumph over Wakefield and open their home Super League winning account at the second time of asking.
A lack-lustre opening 40 minutes suggested it could be two John Smith’s Stadium defeats out of two after last week’s 30-20 loss to Salford Red Devils.
But head coach Rick Stone’s men turned round a 16-8 half-time deficit to grab three unanswered tries to secure the two League points that had earlier looked highly unlikely.
It couldn’t have started any better for the hosts, scoring two tries in a perfect opening eight minutes.
And it was a dream for 19-year-old centre Sam Wood, who was on hand to score his first and second Super League tries.
Coming in to replace injured captain Leroy Cudjoe, who was unable to shrug off a knee knock and take part, Wood couldn’t have made a better initial fist of it.
The teenager opened his account in the fifth minute when he burst onto a short Danny Brough ball to crash over.
And he then doubled his tally three minutes later by collecting Kruise Leeming’s pass out of the tackle, close to the line, to fall over the whitewash.
Brough was unable to land the touchline conversions, but the Giants had at least built a solid platform to work on.
Unfortunately, the optimism was shortlived as Wakefield struck back three times to lead 16-8 at the break.
Within six minutes the visitors had narrowed the deficit, thanks to a close-range effort from Liam Finn, and they took the lead against the run of play in the 25th minute.
With the Giants pressing, Ukuma Ta’ai lost the ball under heavy pressure close to the Wakefield line and the ball was whipped out for Ben Jones-Bishop to collect in his own 20 and find a way through the retreating defence to race away and round Jermaine McGillvary - who was still hobbling after receiving treatment moments earlier - to finish off.
Sam Williams added the conversion to nudge his side ahead for the first time at 10-8 and then banged over a 36th-minute penalty before Jones-Bishop crossed in the corner for his second on the stroke of half time, to make it 16-8.
Huddersfield went close to reducing the deficit in the 52nd minute when Daniel Smith was held up over the tryline in his first top-flight start of 2017.
McGillvary almost crossed in the corner on the hour mark, but was denied by outstanding scrambling Wakefield defence.
But there was no denying Ta’ai in the 63rd minute when he powered over from close range on the blindside and Brough converted to bring it back to 16-14.
And within three minutes Huddersfield were back in front when Brough fed Oliver Roberts on the sixth tackle to show tremendous strength to get the ball down under heavy traffic. The fact he had only just entered the fray from the substitutes’ bench clearly helped his cause.
But with Brough making a remarkable hash of the conversion attempt, the advantage was just a slender two points.
Unsurprisingly, however, the Giants captain-on-the-night quickly made amends, racing from inside his own half through the heart of the Wakefield defence and kicking perfectly to the right for McGillvary to collect and cross. His vision was incredible.
This time Brough made no mistake with the difficult touchline conversion, and the lead was up to eight.
Wakefield refused to wave the white flag with Craig Huby denied before the hosts were then forced drop-out three times in quick succession.
More amazing defence was required to deny Tinirau Arona during a nail-biting finale.
But it was the home side who finished on top, with Ta’ai held up over the line - victory had at that stage been secured and spirits were clearly very high.