Wigan are one match away from a Grand Final after a hard-fought victory at a near-waterlogged ground here tonight. Two tries from Josh Charnley gave the Warriors the edge in filthy conditions. They now have next weekend off, whilst Huddersfield, the most consistent side all year, have to try to take advantage of their second chance. This was a reminder for them that finals football is a different proposition.
The league leaders versus the cup winners looked a mouth-watering play-off prospect last night and it was Huddersfield who monopolised the early action, driving Wigan back with surging forward play and taking the lead when Danny Brough spotted a gap in the defensive line, his dazzling foot-work doing the rest.
Another of the Giants' outstanding players of the season, Brett Ferres, was within millimetres of a second try when held up on the try-line. Wigan were hanging on and trying to get into the game.
It was Josh Charnley who revived them with his 40th try in all competitions – a Super League record – taking Anthony Gelling's pass and aqua-planing into the corner.
Not only did Pat Richards land the conversion from the touchline, but also a penalty from halfway to give the Warriors the lead when Brough's restart went dead.Brough responded with one from almost as far to tie it up at half-time.
First blood after the interval felt as though it would be hugely important in such a tight contest. After both sides forced drop-outs, it went to the prolific Charnley, when Sam Tomkins came into the line and threw a perfect cut-out pass to his winger.
Far from deterred, the Giants came back powerfully, but found the Wigan defence hard to break down. Taking play back to the other end, Matty Smith failed with one drop-goal attempt and then put another over.
His half-back partner, Blake Green, marked one of his best games for the club with the clinching try.
The whole Wigan side has been in uncertain form of late, but this was a night when their knowhow really showed.
Huddersfield: Grix; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy; Brough, Robinson; Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Chan, Ferguson. Subs used: Patrick, Faiumu, Lawrence, Wood.
Wigan Tomkins; Charnley, Gelling, Thornley, Richards; Green, Smith; Mossop, McIlorum, Powell, Farrell, Hansen, Flower. Subs used: Hughes, Dudson, Crosby, Taylor.