Huddersfield 12 – 14 St Helens
First-half tries from Konrad Hurrell and Tommy Makinson, plus a penalty from Makinson after the break proved enough to secure a third win of the season for Saints; Ashton Golding and Innes Senior both crossed for the Giants, with Olly Russell landing two conversions
Last Updated: 23/03/23 10:30pm
Reigning Betfred Super League champions St Helens held off a determined challenge from Huddersfield Giants for a 14-12 win at the John Smith’s Stadium.
The Giants dominated the territorial battle for a significant period of the first half, but St Helens seized on errors to run in quickfire converted tries from Konrad Hurrell and Tommy Makinson.
Ashton Golding cut the deficit to 12-6 by bursting out of dummy-half to finish from close range two minutes before half-time, but a penalty from Makinson seven minutes into the second half increased the lead.
Innes Senior’s try on his first appearance of the season 15 minutes from time ensured Huddersfield remained firmly in the contest, but Ian Watson’s side were unable to make the most of their opportunities as they went down by the same scoreline as the previous week’s defeat to Wigan Warriors.
Story of the game
Early Saints pressure came to nothing before Will Pryce, reverting to full-back for the Giants in the absence of Tui Lolohea, woke up the home fans with a jinking run that ended in winger Senior being crowded out on the left.
Chris McQueen fumbled a pass from Chris Hill which would have sent him hurtling over halfway, but the home pressure ended in a spill from Sebastine Ikahihifo, setting up the chance which led to Saints pushing in front.
The visitors spread the ball out right where James Roby made impressive yards direct from the play-the-ball before Jack Welsby fed Hurrell who crashed over with Makinson adding the extras.
Jake Connor made his long-awaited Huddersfield Giants debut off the interchange bench, with Harvey Livett and Sam Halsall making their bows too. Innes Senior also came in for his first start of the season.
Sione Mata’utia and Konrad Hurrell both returned to the St Helens team, only for the former to leave the field with a head injury inside the first minute. Will Hopoate made his first appearance of the year too.
Hurrell, impressive on his return from his red card in the season-opener against Leeds, turned provider less than three minutes later with a slick offload to Makinson who squeezed in for Saints’ second on the right touchline.
He then sent over his second conversion to leave Huddersfield, who had appeared to be wresting control, weighing up a double-figure deficit.
Golding punished some sluggish Saints reactions by pushing over just before the interval, with Olly Russell halving the deficit, but three sets of Giants pressure straight after the restart came to nothing.
Huddersfield finally made their breakthrough 15 minutes from time when Welsby failed to stop Senior stretching over in the corner, and Russell’s tough conversion dragged the home side back within two.
Huddersfield Giants: Tries – Ashton Golding, Innes Senior; Goals – Olly Russell (2).
St Helens: Tries – Konrad Hurrell, Tommy Makinson; Goals – Tommy Makinson (3).
There were plenty of frayed nerves in the Saints’ ranks but Huddersfield’s lack of cutting edge cost them dear for the second week running and sent the visitors home confident of having turned their stuttering start around.
What they said
St Helens head coach Paul Wellens
“It was a little nervy at times. When we came here tonight, we didn’t expect any different and we watched Wigan’s game last week [against Huddersfield] which was pretty similar.
“In terms of character and the way we kept turning up for each other, it was outstanding. The way we defended our line for long periods was us back to our best.”
Huddersfield Giants head coach Ian Watson
“I’m proud of the way we played and stuck in there right to the death. I thought we were a little bit unlucky in some areas, but it was really pleasing.
“We’re kind of where we need to be – we’re there, but we’re not there yet, if that makes sense. It’s really positive and moving in the right direction.”
Player of the match Matty Lees
“It was a really tough game of rugby. We just had to hang in at the end there when they were on our line.
“We spoke all week that they’re a really good team, they went set for set with us, and when we were on our own line we spoke about slowing the ruck down – and I thought we did a really good job of that.”
Huddersfield now travel to head coach Watson’s former club Salford Red Devils on Sunday April 2 (3pm). St Helens are back in action at home to early strugglers Wakefield Trinity on Friday March 31 (8pm).
Sky Sports’ live Super League coverage continues on Friday night as Wigan Warriors host Salford Red Devils. Watch live on Sky Sports Arena from 7.30pm and stream on NOW TV.