Huddersfield have not finished as league leaders for 81 years and not won a major trophy for half a century. If they are ready to end that long wait, they will look back on this nervy victory over the leaders for most of the season as the crucial game.
The win at the DW Stadium leaves the Giants three points ahead of both Wigan and Warrington with three games to play. From that position, the League Leaders Shield, the badge of consistency in Super League, really should be on its way to a club that has lacked only that quality.
Not only was it first versus second, but the Giants could also point to having had the better of recent matches against Wigan, as well as fielding the more settled line-up.
The home side had expected to have the talismanic Sam Tomkins back in action after a bout of food poisoning, with all the difference that he generally makes to their attacking prowess. This time he was described as having "a slight back injury" as he missed out again. They were also without their equally inspirational captain, Sean O'Loughlin, with a recurrence of a calf injury, not to mention their main tactical kicker, Matty Smith, but were at least one big step closer to their preferred Wembley team for a fortnight hence with the return of Pat Richards.
Wigan made light of their depletions in the opening minutes, taking the lead through Sam Powell, after Josh Charnley had palmed down Blake Green's kick. Despite all their reasons for confidence, it was the Giants who looked the nervous side. Danny Brough settled them down after 15 minutes with an exquisite chip to the corner for Aaron Murphy's equalising try.
Charnley, the league's leading try-scorer, restored Wigan's lead with a superb effort, beating three men down the right-hand channel. Back came Huddersfield immediately, with Luke Robinson putting Jason Chan through a gap to level once more. It was a contest worthy of the top two.
The game tilted sharply in the direction of the Giants when Robinson got away with a fractionally but clearly forward pass to put Brett Ferres in at the start of the second half. Almost apologetically, Brough missed the easy conversion and a simple penalty soon after. That smacked of fluffing their lines again on the big occasion, as they have ever since becoming serious candidates for honours once more. They held firm, however, as Wigan tried to make them pay.
Better still, their full-back Scott Grix, who was having an outstanding game, chased his own kick ahead to score. This time, Brough kicked effortlessly from a much more difficult position. Murphy's second try, a conversion and a penalty clinched it for the Giants. Now they only need to keep their cool, something players of both sides struggled to do in a testy last few minutes.
Wigan Hampshire; Charnley, Goulding, Thornley, Richards; Green, S Powell; Mossop, McIlorum, Taylor, Hansen, Farrell, Tuson. Substitutes used Hughes, Lauaki, L Tomkins, Dudson.
Huddersfield Grix; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy; Brough, Robinson; Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Lawrence, Ferguson. Substitutes used Patrick, Faiumu, Chan, Wood.
Referee J Child (Dewsbury).Reuse content