Warrington 26-24 Huddersfield: Wolves book semi-final spot
By Press Association Sport
Last Updated: 08/09/18 12:23am
Warrington secured a top-four spot and a place in the Super League play-offs with a tension-filled 26-24 victory over nearest challengers Huddersfield.
Wolves led 26-20 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium when Jacob Wardle crashed over for the Giants to the left of the posts with just four minutes remaining, but Danny Brough missed the conversion.
Huddersfield were awarded a penalty as the hooter sounded but Brough's last-gasp effort from the halfway line was again off target much to the relief of the home supporters.
The win sees Warrington open up an eight-point gap over the fifth-placed Giants with just three games remaining of the Super 8s before the semi-finals, when the Wolves are likely to have to travel to St Helens or Wigan to battle for a place in the Grand Final at Old Trafford on October 13.
Bryson Goodwin claimed two tries for the Wolves to make it seven in two games for the Kiwi centre, with others coming from Stefan Ratchford, Tom Lineham and Ryan Atkins with Tyrone Roberts kicking three goals.
Jake Mamo claimed a first-half hat-trick for the Giants in defeat and Lee Gaskell and Wardle also touched down, with Brough landing just two conversions.
The Wolves welcomed back Atkins after a 10-game absence following bicep surgery and Harvey Livett was recalled after missing the 80-10 win over Hull FC as Ben Murdoch-Masila and Bodene Thompson dropped out.
Huddersfield made a host of changes, with Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Darnell McIntosh, Aaron Murphy and Colton Roche all missing from the side that lost 42-16 at home to Wakefield. Mamo, Wardle, Innes Senior, Oliver Roberts and Daniel Smith came in.
And the Giants suffered an early blow when in the first set of the game they lost Alex Mellor who suffered a facial injury in a challenge that was placed on report by referee James Child.
That early exchange set the tempo for a feisty opening which then saw Warrington prop Mike Cooper sent to the sin-bin after 14 minutes for a high tackle on Adam O'Brien.
Huddersfield made their extra man tell a minute later as Mamo managed to squeeze over in the corner for his opening try despite home protests that he had failed to ground the ball.
That setback sparked the Wolves back into life and they took the lead eight minutes later when Kevin Brown's kick on the last tackle deflected off a Giants hand and Goodwin capitalised as he powered through from 20 metres out and Roberts converted to make it 6-4.
A Brough penalty levelled matters before the Giants regained the lead when Goodwin's attacking kick 20 metres from the Huddersfield line was picked up by Michael Lawrence and he fed Mamo who raced 80 metres to score his second try of the night.
The first half continued to ebb and flow and Warrington hit back almost immediately as Atkins powered over from close range on his return to the side for a try which Roberts converted to edge the Wolves back in front at 12-10.
But the home side then lost possession straight from the restart and Huddersfield again accepted the opportunity to post points as Mamo completed his treble to give the Giants a 14-12 interval lead.
Warrington took a grip on the game at the start of the second half when after a period of intense pressure Ratchford finally found a gap in the Giants defence to score nine minutes after the restart.
Two minutes later Livett's pass gave Lineham space down the touchline to score with a spectacular dive in the corner. Roberts booted a further conversion to give his side an eight-point lead at 22-14.
But the Giants would not lie down and after a thrilling 80-metre run by Senior it set up the position from which Brough sent Gaskell over under the posts for a simple try, and Brough's conversion again cut the deficit to just two points.
Goodwin claimed his second try after 67 minutes to make it 26-20 but in the dramatic finale Wardle crossed for the Giants with four minutes remaining.
Brough could not find the target with a relatively easy conversion attempt to tie the scores, before his penalty miss from the last kick of the game.