Riley's tries help hungry Wolves pull down Giants
Huddersfield Giants 22 Warrington Wolves 32
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Sunday 19 February 2012
The winners of last year's League Leaders' Trophy went to the top of the Super League at the end of a turbulent, fluctuating affair. An entertaining if untidy match went their way after Chris Riley – by some distance the least lauded of their international-class backline – scored two tries in a first half during which the Giants threatened to build a winning lead.
Huddersfield, so impressive so far this season, had a calamitous first minute, starting with the ruling that the first tackle of the match, by Luke Robinson on Richie Myler, was high. The Wolves seized on their opportunity, spraying the ball around for Ryan Atkins' final pass to put Riley over in the corner.
After that start, the Giants dominated for over 20 minutes, taking the lead when Danny Brough backed up a sparkling break from Robinson. The prop Eorl Crabtree, on his 300th appearance, was having an inspiring game for the Giants and after Jason Chan had a try disallowed it was he who took his team further in front, taking Robinson's pass and producing a nifty side-step for a prop forward.
Warrington fought back with Riley's second try, which was set up by Myler's pass despite Crabtree's chase and tackle. They hit the lead as half-time approached and this time Huddersfield only had themselves to blame, Luke George coming off his wing, failing to make a tackle on Mike Cooper and leaving the path open for Chris Bridge and a scoreline that hardly reflected the first half.
Huddersfield were perhaps fortunate to have Tommy Lee on the field, after a high shot on Briers. There was a touch of irony, therefore, in him supplying the pass to Chan that put the Giants back in the lead. Bridge also walked a fine line during a stormy passage of play but when hostilities abated, it was Warrington who took the initiative.
Joel Monaghan went over from Ben Westwood's pass after Scott Grix came out of the line and missed his tackle, and then Briers' superb little kick set up Matty Blythe. That made it a 10-point lead – the biggest of the match – but the Giants were far from finished. Greg Eden, a close-season signing from Castleford, slid over the line and Brough's conversion further reduced the margin.
The game, after all its twists and turns, was finally settled with a messy try, Westwood having the ball ripped out in a tackle. It was picked up by Stefan Ratchford, who put Myler under the sticks.
It was impossible not to feel some sympathy for Huddersfield and particularly for Crabtree, who played all but the last few seconds, a rare feat for a modern-day prop.
Huddersfield Giants Eden; Hodgson, Cudjoe, Wardle, George; Scott Grix, Brough; Crabtree, Robinson, Ferguson, Gilmour, Chan, Brown. Substitutes used Lee, Fairbank, Faiumu, Walker.
Warrington Wolves Ratchford; Riley, Bridge, Atkins, J Monaghan; Briers, Myler; Morley, M Monaghan, Wood, Waterhouse, Westwood, Simon Grix. Substitutes used Harrison, Cooper, Blythe, Hill.
Referee P Bentham (Warrington).
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