Huddersfield 24-16 St Helens: Giants moving on up
By Press Association Sport
Last Updated: 16/06/17 11:12pm
Huddersfield survived a spirited St Helens fightback to make it three successive wins in the Betfred Super League with a 24-16 victory at the John Smith's Stadium on Friday.
The Yorkshire side had forged a 12-point first-half advantage but the gap was twice trimmed to just two points before a late Lee Gaskell try sealed the points.
The Giants now move above Wigan and into seventh in the table - their highest placing of the season - and they are now just a point behind their defeated opponents.
Saints had won three of their previous four games since the arrival of new coach Justin Holbrook, but still struggle away from Merseyside with only two victories to their name on the road.
Leroy Cudjoe and Martyn Ridyard scored tries before the break to give the Giants a 12-6 lead, with Luke Thompson replying for Saints.
Mark Percival and Adam O'Brien traded tries after the break, with Kyle Amor's 65th-minute try narrowing Huddersfield's lead again before Gaskell's late intervention.
The game was originally scheduled for the Whit Bank Holiday weekend but a clash with the Giants' footballing co-tenants Huddersfield Town's promotion play-off final at Wembley prompted the date change.
The Merseyside outfit had won their previous two visits to the John Smith's Stadium but despite their own recent revival, they rarely looked like making it a hat-trick of triumphs on a night when they made too many errors.
Both Saints half-backs Matty Smith and Theo Fages, plus prop Amor, made early mistakes to repeatedly hand Huddersfield good field position and the relentless pressure eventually reaped reward when Ridyard put skipper Cudjoe over on the right.
Ridyard added the first of his four conversions.
Sebastine Ikahihifo then made a rampaging run down the middle and a long Danny Brough pass gave winger Aaron Murphy a chance in the corner.
But St Helens held firm and their line was not breached again until four minutes before half-time.
Smith kicked out on the full for a second time and during the following set, which started on halfway, a clever Brough pass put Dale Ferguson to within half a metre of the line.
Brough's last tackle kick was then successfully chased and touched down by Ridyard to help double the Giants' advantage.
Saints were finally stung into action and an incisive break from Morgan Knowles was supported by Thompson, who darted between the posts, with Percival converting on the hooter to leave the seemingly superior Giants only 12-6 ahead.
St Helens were on the board again within three minutes of the restart after slick handling from Fages, Zeb Taia and Jonny Lomax - on his 150th appearance - put Percival over, although the try scorer pulled his conversion attempt wide.
Giants' narrow advantage was extended to eight points when O'Brien wriggled over from dummy half after a determined charge from former Bradford team-mate Gaskell.
Percival, who has now scored five tries in Saints' last four games, was put on report for a suspiciously high tackle on Kruise Leeming.
Jon Wilkin claimed a high Smith kick but lost control as he tried to touch down, then young winger Regan Grace just failed to catch a Fages kick in-goal but Amor eventually scored - twisting over from close range. Percival's second conversion closed the gap to just two again with 15 minutes left.
But the Giants had the last laugh when Sam Rapira flicked a pass for Gaskell to crash over between the posts four minutes from time to take them three points clear of the relegation-threatened bottom four.