Huddersfield 18 St Helens 34

Keiron Cunningham
Keiron Cunningham

There was no joy for new Huddersfield head coach Rick Stone as in-form St Helens came away from West Yorkshire with a comfortable 34-18 victory.

The win - Saints’ fourth in succession - strengthens their bid to get into the top four ahead of the Super Eights, which begin in less than three weeks, drawing them level on points with Catalans Dragons, who were narrowly beaten by Wakefield on Saturday.

Defeat leaves the Giants bottom of the table, a position they inherited less than 48 hours earlier thanks to Leeds’ narrow defeat of Wigan, and it is now looking highly unlikely they will be able to claim the extra home game, which is on offer to the sides finishing ninth and 10th in the forthcoming Middle Eight qualifiers.

Saints ran in first-half tries from Joe Greenwood, Jack Owens, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Jordan Turner to help them to a 22-12 lead.

Adam Swift and Alex Walmsley added further touchdowns after the break, while Mark Percival landed a total of five goals.

Stone, who was revealed as Paul Anderson’s successor at the beginning of the week, could only watch as his new charges replied with tries from Danny Brough, Tom Symonds and Jermaine McGillvary, with the first of the trio landing three conversions, but they would not prove to be enough.

Gene Ormsby made his full debut for the home side, having signed from Warrington in midweek, while Sebastine Ikahihifo finally made his belated first home appearance after recovering from a broken jaw.

Experienced prop Craig Huby also returned after being sidelined for three months with a torn pectoral muscle. Saints were bolstered by back from injury Luke Walsh at scrum half and Adam Swift on the wing.

It took Saints barely 90 seconds to go ahead after they were gifted advantageous field position when Jake Connor’s kick went out on the full.

At the end of the first set, Greenwood dived onto a Walsh grubber in-goal and Percival converted.

Huddersfield hit back quickly with Brough wrongfooting the visitors’ defence before scampering behind the posts and then converting his own try.

Fast passing between Jon Wilkin, Walsh and Jonny Lomax put winger Owens over in the corner, although Percival was unable to add the extras.

The Giants’ response was even faster this time as three minutes later a Ryan Hinchliffe break from centre field sparked a mesmeric sequence of passes, finished off by Symonds, with Brough’s conversion edging the home side in front.

Swift ball movement again undid the Giants defence, as the lead changed hands once more when James Roby, Wilkin and Walsh created a gap for McCarthy-Scarsbrook to charge through and score.

Walsh then sent Turner, who was making his 200th career appearance, crashing over to help open up a 10-point advantage at the break.

A late Ormsby challenge prevented Owens scoring again and extending the lead after the restart and the Giants capitalised immediately when McGillvary scored his 17th Super League try of the season, with Brough’s kick narrowing the gap to just four points again.

But home hopes were quickly quashed as Brough’s last-tackle kick to the corner was taken by Swift, who ran 80 metres to restore Saints’ cushion.

They needed it as the Giants launched wave after wave of pressure with Symonds having a try ruled out for a forward pass, before Walmsley’s 63rd-minute try eased Saints further clear.