Costin tightens Huddersfield grip on play-off spot

<p> Huddersfield 26 - Widnes 20</p>
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The Independent Online

Huddersfield 26 - Widnes 20

Huddersfield Giants opened up a four-point gap ahead of Wakefield in the battle for the sixth play-off place, though they were holding on desperately at the end as Widnes mounted a spirited late revival.

Brandon Costin underlined his importance to the Giants with an inspirational display as they recovered from an early 2-10 deficit to move into a commanding 26-10 lead. Costin, playing only his second game in the last seven after struggling with hamstring and back problems, was the pivotal figure, scoring one try, creating two more and kicking five goals.

But the two points came at a cost for the Giants who lost the influential Stanley Gene with a suspected dislocated and fractured metatarsal bone in his foot. "That has taken the shine off the victory," Jon Sharp, the Giants coach said. "It was our third game in a week and fatigue was obviously a factor but we did enough in the first 60 minutes to win the game."

Widnes, under the charge of caretaker coach Stuart Spruce following the dismissal of coach Neil Kelly, made a huge improvement from last week's dismal display against Wigan. "The effort from last week to this week went up 100 per cent," said Spruce. "If the players wanted to get rid of Neil and not play for him they had to step up the mark this week. There are only seven players here on contract for next year so they are playing for their futures. We started and finished well but we have got to get away from the errors."

An individual try by new signing Willie Peters, his first for Widnes, and three Jules O'Neill goals underpinned the visitors' fine start, but Gene slipped the ball out for Stuart Jones to begin the home comeback. James Evans then pounced on Paul Atcheson's indecision from a Costin kick, before Costin cut through for a solo effort just before half-time.

Jones went over for his second just after the break, before a late Widnes rally produced tries for Adam Hughes and Chris Giles in the final five minutes until time ran out for them.

Huddersfield: Reilly; O'Hare, Nero, Evans, Donlan; Costin, Gene; Fleary, Joseph, Crabtree, Jones, Smith, Roarty. Substitutes used: Grayshon, Penkywicz, Gannon, White.

Widnes: Jules O'Neill; Atcheson, Bird, Hughes, Giles; Myler, Peters; Julian O'Neill, Millward, Hobson, Wozniak, McCurrie, Frame. Substitutes used: Mills, Weston, Johnson, Finnigan.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

* Hull maintained their impressive form with a 38-18 win at Warrington yesterday. Warrington went ahead after nine minutes through Chris Leikvoll's converted try, but that was to be their only score until two tries in the final six minutes of the game. Wigan defeated Salford 32-16 to extend their unbeaten run to seven games.

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