St Helens 12-16 Huddersfield: Giants inflict Saints' second straight loss
By Press Assocation Sport
Last Updated: 11/08/18 12:30am
St Helens suffered a second defeat in six days by losing 16-12 at home to Huddersfield Giants in the Super 8s.
Still reeling from their 35-16 Challenge Cup semi-final defeat by Catalans Dragons, the Super League table-toppers found themselves on the wrong end of the result again.
The visitors led 16-0 after 20 minutes thanks to two tries from the Giants' in-form winger Darnell McIntosh and one from second-rower Alex Mellor before Saints staged a spirited fightback to set up a nerve-jangling finale.
Huddersfield suffered a 66-4 loss in a round 12 fixture at the Totally Wicked Stadium in April, but that was before the arrival of head coach Simon Woolford, who has helped to transform their fortunes.
The Giants, who gave a debut to former Parramatta prop Suaia Matagi, were once more indebted to the craft of veteran half-back Danny Brough, while there were major contributions from hooker Adam O'Brien and substitute prop Matty English.
Huddersfield finished the regular season with nine wins from 10 matches and it showed as they began the game in confident fashion, stunning their hosts with a fast, fluid game that quickly brought its rewards.
Conversely, three handling errors inside the first four minutes set the tone for a first-half horror show by the home side.
Even full-back Ben Barba, the subject of renewed speculation over a return to the NRL at the end of the season, was not immune as he twice fumbled towering kicks from Brough.
And each time Huddersfield worked the ball out to the left, where McIntosh finished in style to take his try tally to 10 in his last seven matches.
In between McIntosh's efforts, Mellor scored from a pinpoint pass by Brough, who kicked two conversions to open up a 16-0 lead.
St Helens were just not in the game at that stage and even skipper James Roby was off the pace as he came off after 31 minutes.
Barba made amends for his early errors by opening Saints' account with his 27th try of the season six minutes before the break, although there appeared to be a forward pass from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook to Jonny Lomax in the build-up.
Danny Richardson added the conversion and Saints almost scored again when Zeb Ta'ia put Lomax through a gap but the England stand-off lost his footing and the chance was gone.
Huddersfield lost Mellor and substitute forward Colton Roche with head injuries, although the latter was able to return to the action, as they began to lose their grip on the contest.
The game was wide open when Thompson charged over for Saints' second try on 58 minutes and Richardson's second conversion cut the gap to just four points.
Roby and back-rower Morgan Knowles were both hauled down short of the line as Saints strove for the victory, but the Giants scrambled superbly to hang onto their precious lead in a tense finish.