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Ian Watson brought his Huddersfield to Salford in the last of Saturday's Betfred Challenge Cup games, but would his team get a vital win against the club he was last managing – and had taken to the final – before moving to West Yorkshire?

Whoever won, the win would take them into the quarter-finals of the sport's most famous - and oldest – knock-out competition.

Famously, league form counts for nothing when it comes to the Cup, but both teams' fans were feeling confident about this tie, even if Huddersfield were still looking to get their stuttering season properly under way.

With Brodie Croft and Marc Sneyd in the middle for the Red Devils against Jake Connor and Theo Fages for the Giants, but battle of the four halves could prove crucial.

Salford kicked off, giving Huddersfield first use of the ball to test out  steady Salford defence, with both teams looking settled and in control as tested each other out. 

But the hosts kept the Giants pinned down in their half in the second set, suggesting early dominance.

And that dominance was more than a suggestion in their second set: Marc  Sneyd broke through the line, passed out to Ryan Brierley and quick hands on the left saw the ball move to Joe Burgess then Matt Costello, who ran over for the game's first four points.

Sneyd's Conversion gave Salford a 6-0 lead with less than five minutes played,Two minutes later, Alex Gerrard powered over by the posts to take the lead to 12 unanswered points, after Sneyd's second conversion.

It wasn't jsut Salford's attack that was telling in the first 15 minutes, though: their defence was making it's mark, forcing the Giants to start their  attacks from within their won 20m zone again and again.

Huddersfield did get their first attacking chance in the Reds' 20m on the quarter hour mark, but it ended with an unforced knock-on and surrendered possession.

On 20 minutes, the Giants lost prop Chris Hill, who left the field for a head injury assessment, which he passed to return to the game before the half was out. 

Immediately afterward, Kallum Watkins scored with a jog through to get onto the end of a Brodie Croft grubberk into the in-goal area. Sneyd made no mistake from the touchline with his third place-kick and the Giants were now 18-0 in arrears.

On 24 minutes the video ref was called to confirm that Rhys Williams never lost his grip as he leaned over in a tackle to just touch it down over the line. 

Sneyd converted from the touchline again and took the score took 24-0 as hopes of a tight competition looked to disappear over the horizon.

But looks can be deceptive. With 10 minutes still to play before hooter, the Giants pushed into the Salford red zone for only the second time in the match. Fages made a beautifully timed pass to Hewitt running a clean line to the in-goal for the team's first score.

A minute later, Fages repeated the pass, this time Luke Yates received the ball in a much closer positionand dotted it down. Two conversions by Jake Connor took the score to 24-12 and it was game on.

Huddersfield almost made it three scores with a break down the left, but burgess's inside pass was forward.

They did make it three comeback tries before half time, when Jake Bibby dived  for a flying grounding of the ball in the corner. This time, Connor's kick missed.

But the teams walked off for the break with the scores at 24-16 after a half of two halves.

Will Pryce kicked off the second half with the game truly in the balance, and the  felt each other out until Tuimoala Loloheah danced in front of the Salford defensive line then dropped of the ball to Yates, who dashed through to score under the posts.

Connor converted from in front of the posts: Salford's 24 unanswered points had now been answered by 22 unanswered points from Huddersfield.

10 minutes into the half, Sneyd dinked a delicate high kick into the corner from 12m out and Burgess leapt to gather and plant it over the line. Faced with another touchline conversion, Sneyd made no mistake with the kick, taking the gap back to eight points at 30-22.

With 15 minutes to go, the Devils pressed the Giants' line again and on the fifth tackle Sneyd hoisted the ball into the right corner. Centre Williams was there to catch the ball and pretty much fall over the line.

Three minutes later, Brodie Croft broke the line and ran 20m before standing in the tackle for a delayed offload to Sneyd who had clear open space between him and the posts to place the ball under the dot. Unsurprisingly, he had no trouble converting his own try from that position. The gap was now 20 points at 42-22.

But it still wasn't all one way, Lolohea saw the chance to scoot from dummy half and score under the Red Devils' posts himself. Connor converted. the scoreline read 42-28.

Kevin Naqama was the next to score under the posts after a break down the right touchline by Fages and a cheeky pass around an oncoming defender. The score was now 42-34, with Connor's conversion.

Yates hat-trick try on 78 minutes, followed by Connors' conversion, took that to 42-40 –  with less than two minutes to play.

That set up frantic final 90 seconds, but in the end, it was Salford who won a see-saw game and go into the hat for the corner-final draw. 

For the Giants, the challenge now is to see if they can take that spirit into the remaining league matches and get a settled season under way.

Half Time: 24-16.

Full Time: 42-40.

Score progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 16-0, 18-0, 22-0, 24-0, 24-4 , 24-6, 24-10, 24-12, 24-16. HT: 24-20, 24-22, 28-22, 30-22, 34-22, 36-22, 40-22, 42-22, 42-26, 42-28, 42-34, 42-40. FT.

Lead Exchanges: Salford.

Salford Red Devils: Brierley, Williams (2T), Cross, Costello (T), Burgess (T); Croft, Sneyd (T, 7G); Vuniyayawa; Atkin, Gerrard (T), Stone, Watkins (T), Helliwell. Subs: Addy, Partington, Dupree, Longstaff. 18th man: Dixon.

Huddersfield Giants: Pryce, Halsall, Marsters, Naqama (T), Bibby (T); Connor (6G), Fages; Hill, O’Brien, Wilson, Cudjoe, Hewitt (T), Rushton. Subs: Lolohea (T), Ikahihihifo, Yates(3T), Greenwood. 18th Man: England



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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 20th May 2023 10:02 PM | Views : 3733 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES