TODAY'S clash at the Galpharm Stadium between the Giants and Hull features the clubs who in the last two Super League campaigns have had their play-off bids wrecked by injury.

At the start of the 2003 season, Hull were widely tipped as the club most likely to break the domination of the so-called `big four' of Leeds, Bradford, Wigan and St Helens.

In the early stages, it was a prediction that looked like coming true.

Under coach Shaun McRae's command, Hull were looking the part.

In the first half of the season, they claimed the scalps of Wigan and St Helens, among others, and held third place throughout that time.

But in the second half of the campaign it was a totally different story.

After a relatively injury-free start to the year, players began falling like nine pins, prompting McRae to ban all media talk relating to activity on the treatment table.

Not surprisingly, Hull's play-off bid began to lose its momentum, and in the end they had to settle for a finishing spot of seventh.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

This year, it's been the turn of the Giants to suffer an identical fate.

A magnificent start to the campaign when Huddersfield briefly led the table for the first time in their Super League history and wins over the likes of Wigan were achieved, are already fading memories.

For the past three months the story of the Giants has been one of the devastating effect injuries have had on the second half of the campaign.

It all started to go wrong with the knee injury suffered to inspirational hooker Darren Turner in April which has ultimately forced his retirement.

Since then it has been a tale of woe on the injury-front.

Unfortunately, however, that's where the similarity appears to end.

This time last year when Hull's campaign was going off the rails, there seemed to be widespread sympathy for their plight.

After all, there was little McRae could do about the high level of injuries his squad had suffered.

In contrast, where has been the sympathy for coach Jon Sharp and his Giants?

Instead, the recent Super League performances of the Giants have been condemned, with fans across the board dismissing the side as a shocking lot who have done little to lift the quality of the competition.

The ability of the players have been called into question, as too has the ability of head coach Sharp, forcing Great Britain coach Brian Noble and star man Paul Sculthorpe to jump to his defence.

There was certainly no widespread questioning of McRae's ability when Hull were doing it tough.

But what's also grating for the Giants right now is the continued lack of sympathy they are receiving over the way the team is being refereed.

Quite rightly, Sharp wants to keep the details of his recent meeting with RFL referees boss Stuart Cummings private.

Yet it is clear from some of the examples Sharp has been able to cite, that Cummings could not have been able to hide behind any form of defence.

It is now widely acknowledged that in the game at Widnes three weeks ago the Vikings' first try should have been ruled out and Sean Penkywicz's disallowed late levelling try should have been given.

Furthermore, video evidence has clearly shown that referee Ashley Klein was taking the Giants' defensive line back 12m and the Widnes line 10m - and that makes a huge difference.

But how much of a fuss outside the Giants camp has been made of this fact?


Instead, Huddersfield are still perceived as the dirtiest side in Super League because of the number of penalties they give away, even though Sharp has claimed successfully to the RFL authorities that his side is not getting a fair crack of the whip.

So, rather than getting on the Giants' backs, isn't it about time the club received the same level of sympathy that other rivals clubs appear to get?