15 Aug 2019


The story behind the scoreline from last Sunday's fixture against Salford

By Sean Evans

Huddersfield travelled to the AJ Bell stadium for the second time in 2 months, and despite sitting below Salford in the table and coming off the back of some tough defeats, could’ve been optimistic about their chances having won in the last meeting between the two sides. Salford on the other hand, would’ve been looking to right the wrong of the last meeting and continue pressing for the 5th and, all important, final play-off spot. 

That Salford victory was also used as the first instalment of the Chalkboard, and after the game we compared just how similar the attacking shapes were, which means arguably even more than usual, the team that executed the most consistently won. However, in this game we see nothing near the same. Huddersfield’s shuffling of the 1/6/7 positions meant that the compact shape we saw in that fixture was dulled slightly to allow more optional movement for Lee Gaskell, coming from full-back. Similarly, Salford seem to have adapted from the loss of Robert Lui and their open play allows Jackson Hastings plenty of space to manoeuvre his magic, and don’t be surprised to find Tui Lolohea waiting to pick up any pieces both out wide, and in the middle. He was menacing throughout and never really settled into one area of the field.

Despite the Giants defence being highly competitive throughout, the first try of the game will have fans less than impressed, as Logan Tomkins found a gap right infront of him, and dived over from dummy-half. 

Before the Huddersfield defence showed us how good it really can be, especially in the third quarter of the match, work had to be done in attack to allow the side to stay in the contest, and once again we draw comparisons from our last outing at the AJ Bell. Tom Holmes was picked out as the man that changed the fortunes for the Giants, in that outing and he looked to have influence in this game also, when his break and later set up play proved vital.   

The call is last tackle and a quick play the ball means Leeming can look left and find an onrushing Holmes, to set up an attacking last play. There are so many reasons why this play could go well for the Giants, but it’s that reason that Holmes does so well leaving his decision so late and backing himself once the opportunity arrives. The quick play the ball leaves the Salford defender from marker slightly behind, but Gaskell’s presence on the inside means he also can’t rush to close the gap between him and his A defender. When Huddersfield’s lead runner pulls in the Salford Centre and back rower, a pass to Wardle may be on to find a two-on-one, but Holmes keeps his hips square to the defender so he has complete control of his movement despite running at full tilt, sees the gap and takes his chance.

After getting a fortunate penalty, Huddersfield can set up a full set on the Salford line and Tom Holmes steps up again, his speed taking it around one man, and close enough to a second to pull the Salford centre out of position again, and set up a two-on-one and an easy touchdown for Darnell McIntosh on the wing.

Huddersfield came out with intent to win, that nobody can doubt, but the second Huddersfield try is something really special. After McIntosh breaks and takes the tackle to set up a last play against a broken defence, Olly Russell sets up Louis Senior, whose kick back on the inside finds Russell to score and convert and put Huddersfield in the lead for the first time. There was a call for offside against the Huddersfield half but the proof is in the pudding and Seniors perfectly weighted kick found the only place where Russell would be uncontested grounding the ball. 

Resilience in defeat

When a neutral looks at the scoreline, he sees a team struggling being well beaten by a team pushing a chance at the Grand Final. In reality, when the game was sat at 12-10, Huddersfield did almost everything possible to stop the Red Devils from scoring another point, and that is why, despite the result heads must stay high, because the ability to perform under pressure is there. 

Whether it was retreating defence, kick reads or sliding to stop Hastings create his space, Huddersfield had an answer to everything for a solid 15-20 minute spell on their own line, but nothing lasts forever and our lack of attacking intensity kept the pressure firmly on our line. Credit to Salford, however, who managed a 100% completion rate in the second half, meaning that the Giants had to work for every second they had the ball and that ultimately was the downfall for the Claret and Gold. Our camera angles don’t quite show how good the defence was at times, and after the Leeds result it is vital to keep heads up, the defence proving that the game last week was nothing but a blip and with that intensity going into a huge all-Yorkshire affair at home, it will be crucial that the defence is that good once more.