Bookies, pundits and supporters all thought alike, there was only one possible outcome of the final Challenge Cup sixth round encounter as the Huddersfield Giants played hosts to the league leaders St Helens.

Saints are currently sixteen points, and eight places, ahead of the Giants in the league table and won by a convincing 40-12 margin when the two sides met back in March.

Saints named the same seventeen which beat Hull KR last weekend but the Giants were without McGillvary, Uate, Lawrence, and Russell from the side which lost by a single point to Wakefield Trinity last time out.

Early resistance from the Giants was finally overcome on eleven minutes as Regan Grace took a miss-out pass to go over by the left corner flag on the overlap for the opening try of the game. Lachlan Coote was unable to add the extra two from the touchline but the Giants coaching staff will have been concerned at the ease with which they eventually opened their account.

The Giants stuck back immediately through Joe Wardle who walked through a big gap in the Saints defence to go twenty metres and score under the stick giving Lee Gaskell a simple conversion to put his side into a 6-4 lead.

A Coote penalty on twenty-three levelled the scores but on twenty-eight a superb offload inside from Louis Senior went into the hands or Aaron Murphy who walked over Coote to score. Gaskell was unable to add the conversion from wide but at 10-6 on the half hour mark the game was not going to Saints pre-match plans.

The simplest of tries, Theo Fages picking up and grounding a Grace grubber kick towards the posts, re-established parity on thirty five and when Coote kicked the conversion the Saints were back in a two point lead.

There was nothing to choose between two evenly matches sides at the interval.

Tommy Makinson went over in the right corner eight minutes after the restart but it was adjudged as a forward pass and the try was chalked off but two minutes later Coote crossed after taking a Makinson tap back to score by the right touchline. Coote’s kick didn’t reach the posts, his side six points ahead.

Coote made a real hash of an attempted drop goal on fifty-three, an indication of how close Saints feared it might be at full time.

On fifty-six the Giants were back on level terms. Following a penalty Joe Wardle jinked his way through the Saints defence to stretch for the line to score. Gaskell added the conversion for 16-16.

Just after the hour mark a Fages high kick caused confusion in the Giants defence with a tapped back ball hitting the feet of Matty Lees, before going over the try line and being touched down by Kevin Naiqama. Coote added the goal and again, Saints were six points ahead.

Coote missed a comfortable penalty goal opportunity on sixty-eight, by some margin and three minutes laterr Zeb Taia lost the ball on the try line.  While Saints couldn’t put the game to bed, the Giants couldn’t get down the other end to threaten the visitors line.

While it was Saints who made progress into a quarter final game against Wakefield Trinity, it is the Huddersfield Giants who deserve the plaudits for their brave efforts, and for pushing the league leaders to the final minutes of the game.

Giants: McIntosh, Senior L, Turner, Murphy (T), Senior I, Gaskell (2G), Frawley, English, O’Brien, Matagi, Wardle (2T), Mellor, Clough. Subs: Leeming, Roberts, Hewitt, Ta’ai.

Saints: Coote (T, 3G), Makinson, Naiqama (T), Costello, Grace (T), Lomax, Fages (T), Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Taia Peyroux, Knowles. Subs: Paulo, Amor, Ashworth, Smith.

Referee: Scott Mikalaukas.

Half-Time: 10-12.

Full-Time: 16-22.

Attendance: 3,533.


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