Huddersfield extended their lead at the top of the table with a hard earned victory over second placed Wigan in front of a bumper crowd at the DW Stadium.
The Giants came out on top of the battle of the top two in a ferocious clash as they stood up to Wigan’s big pack and displayed an expansive attacking game on the back of their forward dominance.
Halfbacks Danny Brough and Luke Robinson combined to take control of the game in the middle of the park, as Wigan struggled for attacking nous with the influential Smith and Tomkins both missing. Robinson tormented the club where he began his career with a couple of assists and was a constant threat with ball in hand. His kicking game came into use at times when his partner in crime Brough was put under pressure – and it was Brough’s influence from Stand Off that lead the way for the visitors’ run away victory in the second half as he dictated the direction of attack.
The Scottish international was at the heartbreat of everything in the Huddersfield attack; his short kicking game constantly probing at the Wigan line while his long range kicks kept turning Wigan round and pinning them deep in their own half.
Two tries from Aaron Murphy sandwiched touchdowns from Chan, Ferres and Grix for the Giants, while Charnley and Powell notched what turned out to be consolation scores for the Cherry and Whites.
Harrison Hansen thought he had crossed for a try after two minutes, but heroic defending from Scott Grix held the back rower up over the try line. From the resulting play the ball, however, Blake Green’s high kick to the corner was knocked back by Josh Charnley and pounced upon by Sam Powell for the opening score of the game.
Huddersfield went close to levelling the scores on ten minutes when Brough’s stray pass found Joe Wardle, but he was denied by a last ditch tackle from Charnley and the Wigan defence held firm for the rest of the set.
It was indicative of the opening quarter, as both sides traded attacking field position and ferocious defence, with big hits and hard running the order of the day.
Danny Brough provided the classy touches to create chances for the Giants and it was his deft kick to the corner on 15 minutes that unlocked the Warriors defence and allowed Aaron Murphy to touch down in the corner. It was an inspired piece of skill and vision from Brough, who had previously dragged Charnley out of position with a neat grubber through the line, which created the space for Murphy to score.
Paul Anderson’s men continued to promote the ball and cause problems for the hosts, but Wigan held firm and regained the lead just before the half hour mark with a superb individual try from Josh Charnley, who collected the ball out wide and beat three defenders on his way to scoring against the run of play.
It threatened to be a momentum changer, but the visitors were in no mood to allow their heads to drop and they responded almost instantly when they forced a knock on deep in Wigan’s half and Jason Chan benefited from a fine short ball from Luke Robinson, who had took on his former team’s defence and created the gap for the big back rower to stroll through to level the scores again after Brough’s conversion.
Brough attempted a long-range field goal as the half-time hooter went, but it sailed safely wide and the sides went into the changing sheds level at the break.
The Fartowners got the scoreboard ticking immediately after half-time when Brett Ferres charged onto a short ball from Robinson at the line in what has become his trademark style to crash over, although the majority of the near-20,000 crowd felt the final pass from Robinson was forward.
Staggeringly, Danny Brough missed the conversion from not too far out wide to keep the difference in the scores at just four points and minutes later he missed an attempted penalty goal.
Both sides continued to battle for domination in territory and Huddersfield got a break when Sam Powell’s penalty kick missed touch and Scott Grix showed great vision in the resulting attacking set to put a grubber kick in behind the defence and gather the ball to touch down in the corner – Josh Charnley again been dragged out of position; this time by chasing the ball from first marker.
Brough nailed the touchline conversion to extend Huddersfield’s lead to ten points going into the final quarter.
With the scoreline and clock against them, Wigan tried to promote the ball wide through hands, but the Giants defended well and forced the error before capitalising with a neat handling move that saw Brough and Wardle combine to put the bloodied Aaron Murphy over in the corner to seal a famous victory for Huddersfield before Brough put the icing on the cake with a penalty goal.
Wigan: Hampshire, Charnley, Goulding, Thornley, Richards, Green, Powell, Mossop, McIlorum, Taylor, Hansen, Farrell, Tuson
Replacements: Hughes, Lauaki, L Tomkins, Dudson
T: Powell, Charnley
G: Richards 2
Huddersfield: Grix, McGilvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Lawrence, Ferguson
Replacements: Faiumu, Patrick, Chan, Wood
T: Murphy 2, Chan, Ferres, Gix
G: Brough 5
Referee: James Child
RLFans Man of the Match: Danny Brough (Huddersfield)