It is the time of year for end-of-season awards and, if there was one for the most maddening player in Super League, it would probably go to Danny Brough. He can be maddening for his coaches and team-mates because, all too often, his obvious natural talent can implode.
When everything falls into place, however, he can be a torment to his opponents and that was certainly the case for Warrington on Saturday.
Brough produced an inspired kicking game in general play, exposed the lethargy in Warrington's legs with some electrifying running and helped to set up several tries. The best of the lot was the Giants' second try after 12 minutes, when he raced out of dummy half at an eccentric angle before straightening up to blow a hole in the Wolves' defence. Ironically, the move was finished off by Danny Kirmond, who has just returned from a loan to Wakefield that was part of the deal that brought Brough to Huddersfield.
It has not always looked an inspired move on the Giants' part, but on Saturday their coach, Nathan Brown, said: "He showed why our chairman helped to bring him to the club. His kicking game was outstanding and the rest of his game is going pretty well, too."
For the departing Warrington full-back, Richie Mathers, it was a less satisfactory marker in his career. Mathers, on his way to Castleford for next season, made two crucial mistakes, both of which led to tries – Huddersfield's first and last.
Both errors fell into the category of the excusable, with the ball possibly knocked out of his hands for the first and a death-or-glory last-minute pass leading to the second, but that will not necessarily make him feel any better.
Nor will the way that his replacement for next season, Brett Hodgson, gave such a composed display for his present club. The Australian showed what he will have to offer with his acute reading of situations in defence, his adventurous attacking flair and his nerveless goal-kicking. Age is not on his side, but he would improve most teams.
Huddersfield also got a huge contributions from a pack, in which the Salford-bound Stephen Wild was outstanding, and from their half-backs, Luke Robinson and Kevin Brown.
The broader question posed by the demise of a strongly-fancied Warrington side is how hard it is going to be, now that the Challenge Cup final is so late in the season, for any side to complete the Cup and Super League double.
There was no doubt about the Wolves' commitment to doing so – at Wembley they spoke of little else – but they could not regroup quickly enough to avert the play-off defeats by St Helens and Huddersfield, which ended their season.
Even on Saturday, they followed an insipid first half with a revitalised second and were in with a chance of snatching a draw until Mathers' speculative pass sent Leroy Cudjoe racing away to score at the other end.
"They're dangerous," the Warrington coach, Tony Smith, warned Huddersfield's fellow survivors. "They're a good team and a hard team to curb."
Warrington: Mathers, Hicks, King, Atkins, Riley, Briers, Monaghan, Morley, Clarke, Carvell, L Anderson, Westwood, V Anderson. Substitutes used: Bridge, Higham, Wood, Solomona.
Huddersfield: B Hodgson, Cudjoe, Lawrence, Gilmour, D. Hodgson, Brown, Robinson, Mason, Brough, D Griffin, Kirmond, Fa'alogo, Wild. Substitutes used: Crabtree, Lunt, Faiumu, Patrick.
Referee: P Bentham (Warrington)Reuse content