One of the longest waits in rugby league ended last night as the Giants clinched possession of the League Leaders’ Shield.
Huddersfield had not finished first in the top division for 81 years and had not won any major trophy since the Championship in 1962. They quickly made sure that they would record the victory they needed to put them three points ahead of Warrington, with just one game each left.
It was a sweet night for the club’s owner, Ken Davy, who is popular with his troops and has ploughed so much into lifting them from the bottom of the professional game to the pinnacle – as the most consistent side of the Super League season.
On top of their own sense of history, they were meeting Wakefield on a difficult night for the Wildcats, whose financial problems had reared up again over the weekend. Things got worse for Trinity when, after Paul Aiton had instigated a mêlée with a couple of swings at Eorl Crabtree, the Giants took the ball upfield and scored through Jason Chan.
Ten minutes later, more concerted pressure and Brett Ferres was over from Luke Robinson’s short pass. Huddersfield had no intention of letting their Shield slip through their fingertips, even temporarily.
Wakefield were conceding too many penalties and were punished when the Papua New Guinea forward, Chan, forced his way over from close range for his second, with Danny Brough making it three conversions from three attempts.
The Wildcats, despite their financial worries and the question marks over who will go and who will stay, were defending manfully, but they were having too much to do and had next to nothing left for attack. They were breached again at the start of the second half by Aaron Murphy, one of a number of Giants who have played their best rugby this year. Much of the credit for that goes to Paul Anderson, in his first year as head coach. By the time Jermaine McGillvary crashed over for the fifth try both he and Davy were grinning broadly.
Now their side must show that they can handle play-off football as well. All the signs were that they can, although they could have been more clinical in their finishing before McGillvary claimed his second and Shaun Lunt completed the scoring.
Huddersfield Grix; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy; Brough, Robinson; Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Chan, Lawrence. Substitutes used Faiumu, Patrick, Taia, Wood.
Wakefield Mathers; Fox, Collis, Lyne, Cockayne; Smith, Goulding; Poore, Aiton, Wilkes, Mariano, Kirmond, Tautai. Substitutes used Lauitiiti, Washbrook, Raleigh, Annakin.
Referee T Roby.