Vintage Hodgson proves best of the backs

Huddersfield 48 Wigan 16
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The Independent Online

Brett Hodgson will be named today as the country's best full-back in the Super League Dream Team.

There are plenty who believe that he has been the best in the competition in any position, and there was nothing in this performance to disprove that as he scored the first try, had a hand in several others and kicked eight goals from all angles as Huddersfield clinched third place and a trip to St Helens in the first round of the play-offs.

There has rarely been a better illustration of his all-round value to his team. "He's been a stand-out player over here this year," said his coach, Nathan Brown. "He's a big part of the reason why we're where we are in the table."

Their cup run had been a mixed blessing for the Giants, with only a win over the Celtic Crusaders since they won their semi-final and two of their better players this season, Scott Moore and Keith Mason, suspended by the club for their behaviour on the homecoming from Wembley.

They were hardly missed, however, as the Giants were by far the better team yesterday. Hodgson set them moving with a run from Danny Sculthorpe's gem of a pass that gained the ground from which he scored the first try.

Mark Flanagan got one back for an insipid Wigan, but David Hodgson and Shaun Lunt built a solid Huddersfield lead before Pat Richards flattered Wigan's first-half efforts with a try before the break.

The second half was all Huddersfield, with Leroy Cudjoe getting the first of his three tries and Lunt – one of the discoveries of the latter stages of the season – his second. Paul Whatuira and Cudjoe both got over as the Giants ran riot, with only an isolated try from Joel Tomkins bringing Wigan any relief.

Even then, the one-sided contest finished in more appropriate fashion, with the exciting young Cudjoe intercepting from Cameron Phelps and going 90 metres for his hat-trick.

It was a poor display from Wigan, whose sixth place gives them a home match against Castleford next weekend – against the backdrop of the continuing uncertainty over Brian Noble's future. He is expected to become the Crusaders' new coach, but a more immediate concern for him is his current side's dismal form yesterday.

"We went into free fall in the second half," he admitted. "We need to be a whole lot better and I'm confident we will be."

Huddersfield: B Hodgson; Cudjoe, Lawrence, Whatuira, D Hodson; Fulton, Robinson; Sculthorpe, Faiumu, Jackson, Wild, Raleigh, Aspinwall. Substitutes used: Crabtree, Lunt, Griffin, Patrick.

Wigan: Phelps; Roberts, Gleeson, Carmont, Richards; O'Loughlin, Leuluai; Coley, McIlorum, Prescott, Hansen, J Tomkins, Flanagan. Substitutes used: Fielden, Palea'aesina, Pryce, Mossop.

Referee: I Smith.