Fading Giants face Hull test

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The Independent Online

Huddersfield hope that the horrors of the second half of the Super League regular season are behind them as they embark on their play-off campaign today.

The Giants led the table impressively in April, only for a run of 10 games with only two wins to send them into a downward spiral.

The early departure of the St Helens-bound coach, Nathan Brown, and his replacement by Paul Anderson has not had an immediate impact on their form or results.

There were signs of a revival in the victory over Leeds last weekend, but Huddersfield's decline has been so precipitous that they have lost the home advantage that goes with a top- four finish and must travel to Hull this evening.

But the Giants do have two bonuses going into the game. One is that their loose-forward Luke O'Donnell, sent off last week in his first game back after a hamstring injury, was found not guilty and is clear to play.

The Giants hooker Luke Robinson says that having O'Donnell available in those circumstances might provide the inspiration that could keep their season alive.

The other good sign is that Danny Brough, recently appointed captain, was back to his best against Leeds and will surely relish a return to one of his former clubs.

It has been a busy week for Hull, who have extended the contracts of their coach, Peter Gentle, and two of their key players, the hooker Danny Houghton and the prop Mark O'Meley.

With Ben Galea and Daniel Holdsworth signed from Hull KR and Salford respectively, a powerful squad is taking shape for next season. More immediately, Hull need to keep this season alive, with Gentle predicting a fierce forward battle.

If it is to be that sort of game, he might be tempted to include the hulking Sam Moa, who is available again after injury.

The Catalan Dragons, beaten 46-6 by Wigan on Friday night, will play their sudden-death play-off in Perpignan this Friday.

The England Test forwards Sam Burgess and James Graham will face each other for a place in the Australian Grand Final on Saturday. Burgess's South Sydney beat the Canberra Raiders 38-16 to set up a preliminary final against the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Burgess's younger brother, Luke, also played in the win over the Raiders.