Huddersfield take Giant stride toward top four finish

Catalans Dragons 12
Tries: Inu, Escare
Goals: Dureau 2/3

Huddersfield Giants 14
Tries: McGillvary (2)
Goals: Ellis 3/3
Huddersfield Giants became only the second side to beat Catalans Dragons at the Stade Gilbert Brutus this season thanks to a 14-12 victory on a hot and humid Saturday evening in Perpignan.

Jermaine McGillvary scored two tries and Jamie Ellis kicked three goals from three attempts for the visitors who stay fourth in the table following a scrappy win.

Victory at home to Wakefield next week will assure Huddersfield of a top four finish and four home games in the Super 8’s.

Kieron Purtill took charge of the Giants as head coach Paul Anderson stayed in England due to a family illness.

Scott Dureau missed a penalty for the hosts that would have made it 14-apiece with just over a quarter of the game to go as Catalans suffered a fourth straight defeat in league and cup.

The Dragons, who already had a lengthy injury-list going into the game, lost Elliott Whitehead early on after a collision with Ukuma Ta’ai while Remi Casty was forced off the field in the second half in what was a bruising encounter.

Lucas Albert continued in the halves for the Dragons as Todd Carney again missed out through injury.

The game was only three minutes old when NRL-bound Whitehead was knocked out attempting to tackle Tongan international Ta’ai. The 25 year-old received treatment from both sets of medical teams before being stretchered from the field following a lengthy stoppage.

Both sides struggled to find any rhythm early on, and handling errors and penalties littered the match throughout.

Tony Gigot almost put the home side ahead when the centre chased his own kick into the in-goal area but Scott Grix eventually knocked the ball in to touch before the 24 year-old could touch it down.

Ta’ai managed to hold Ian Henderson up over the line on 17 minutes and five minutes later Louis Anderson dropped a short pass close to the Giants line with a certain try beckoning.

Daniel Smith came on off the bench to make his Huddersfield debut on 25 minutes, and soon after the visitors began applying pressure to the Dragons line.

A succession of penalties deep in Catalans territory eventually led to the opening try of the game on 28 minutes. Leroy Cudjoe ran at Albert and Jordan Sigismeau before flicking a pass out to McGillvary for his first try of the game. Ellis added the touchline conversion to make it 6-0 to the Giants.

One minute from the break the feisty game boiled over when Danny Brough was hit late after a kick down field by Eloi Pelissier. The 2013 Man of Steel reacted by throwing the French hooker to the ground, and referee Joe Cobb showed the stand-off a yellow card.

From the resulting Dragons penalty Krisnan Inu scored a try that owed much to Morgan Escare. The full-back stepped out of one tackle before placing an inch perfect kick into the corner for Inu to score his second try for the club. Dureau’s conversion made it 6-6 at the interval.

Catalans took further advantage of their extra man when Escare himself scored five minutes into the second half. A poor pass from Ta’ai 10 metres from the Dragons line went to ground and Inu collected the loose ball before running to halfway where he passed to the supporting French international, who had the legs to go the rest of the way to score under the posts and give his side the lead for the first time in the match.

The deficit was wiped out five minutes later when McGillvary crossed for his 14th try of the season and seventh in his last five appearances. Grix’s pass to the winger looked to travel some way forward, but to the disgust of the home fans, the touch judge and referee saw nothing wrong with it and awarded the four points.

Ellis then kicked Huddersfield two points ahead five minutes later when they were awarded a penalty for a Dureau ball steal on Ta’ai. The former Hull FC, Castleford and St Helens man slotted the ball over from just over 20 metres out to make it 14-12 to the Giants.

Dureau then had the opportunity to level the scoreboard when Joe Wardle held onto Gigot’s ankle for too long after the tackle had been completed. However, Super League’s leading goal kicker this season pulled his attempt wide of the uprights – as he did at Magic Weekend when the two sides played out a draw.

Just after the hour mark Casty was forced off after appearing to twist his knee, as the Dragons medical staff continue to work overtime with a growing injury list.

Huddersfield looked comfortable throughout the final quarter as Catalans continued to make errors with ball in hand and Brough’s kicking game ensured the Dragons never threatened the Giants line late on.

Catalans remain eighth in the table following the defeat, while Huddersfield stay fourth, but are now two points ahead of fifth placed Castleford, who have two games left to play in the regular season.

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