Griffin powers through to end Dragons' fight
Huddersfield 30 Catalan Dragons 16
It took the uncompromising intervention of their two prop forwards in the last nine minutes to decide a gripping Challenge Cup tie and put Huddersfield into the quarter-finals.
The Giants were ahead by just two points when Danny Brough's kick forced a drop-out. That brought a penalty, a chance to apply pressure from close range and an opportunity for their man-of-the-match, Darrell Griffin, to bulldoze his way over the line.
Three minutes later, Eorl Crabtree, charged through the middle, Kevin Brown was on hand to side-step his way over for the second try, and the contest was over.
"Physically, they were all over us in the first half," said the Huddersfield coach, Nathan Brown. "But we were better in the second, and Griffin and Crabtree were outstanding."
The Giants had to work hard to have their noses in front at half-time, despite taking an early lead through Jermaine MacGillvary, following good work from Luke Robinson and Leroy Cudjoe.
Larne Patrick's knock-on from a drop-out allowed the Catalans back into the game, with Ian Henderson lunging over from dummy-half. It was more smart dummy-half play that brought their second, when Damien Blanch exploited the blind-side to put Jean-Phillipe Baile over with an inside pass.
Brough's rich and varied kicking game had been a feature from the start and it was he who gave Huddersfield the edge by the interval. His towering bomb, swirling in the gusty wind, bounced to give Cudjoe a try and then a subtle little poke into the corner did the same for David Hodgson. Brough's only real short-coming was that he missed with all three conversion attempts.
A sense of adventure put the Giants further ahead at the start of the second half. Running on the last tackle of a set, Brown found Brough, who opened up the defence with a step and a shimmy before providing the return pass.
The Dragons, and Scott Dureau in particular, refused to lie down. Despite being hit by a late tackle, Dureau put in a 40/20 kick and, from the subsequent scrum, put Cyril Stacul in for the try that kept the pressure on.
"You hope that the refs will look after that [late tackles], but they didn't today," said the Calalans' coach, Trent Robinson. "It could have gone either way, but I was disappointed with the way we played; we didn't have 13 players on the same page."
Huddersfield: Grix; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Lawrence, Hodgson; Brown, Brough; Crabtree, Robinson, Griffin, Gilmour, Ferguson, Kirmond. Substitutes used: Faiumu, Lunt, Mason, Patrick.
Catalan Dragons: Stacul; Blanch, Baile, Milard, Vaccari; Bosc, Dureau; Ferriol, Henderson, Fakir, Sa, Raguin, Paea. Substitutes used: Mounis, Gigot, Simon, Baitieri.
Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).
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