Super League at John Smith’s Stadium
Date: 28/03/2016 KO: 15:00
Ta’ai (27, 61) Connor (35) McGillvary (58)
Conversions Brough (27, 35, 58, 61)
Kopczak (17) O’Brien (31) Griffin (44) Carney (68) Evalds (71)
Conversions Dobson (31, 44, 50)
Salford Red Devils heaped further misery on bottom club Huddersfield Giants by winning a see-saw encounter 26-24 at the John Smith’s Stadium.
The lead changed hands no fewer than six times in cold and blustery conditions with the result leaving the Giants having won just once in eight matches this season.
The Red Devils, themselves going into the match on the back of four defeats in their previous five games, scored tries through Craig Kopczak, Gareth O’Brien, Josh Griffin, Justin Carney and Niall Evalds, although trailed 12-10 at the break.
Their West Yorkshire hosts replied through Ukuma Ta’ai (two), Jake Connor and Jermaine McGillvary but it was not enough to turn around their poor recent fortunes.
Huddersfield, beaten by Wakefield on Good Friday, switched high-profile recent signing Ryan Brierley to full-back, while welcoming back towering prop Eorl Crabtree, who had to sit out the Belle Vue game due to being concussed the week before.
Salford handed Mason Caton-Brown and Josh Wood their first games of the season, replacing Greg Johnson and Tommy Lee who both suffered knee injuries in the defeat by Catalans three days beforehand.
The low-on-confidence Giants made all the early running with Crabtree, Craig Huby, Jake Connor and Kyle Wood each going within inches of scoring but it was the visitors who went ahead when former Huddersfield prop Kopczak, who moved across the Pennines last winter, charged onto a Junior Sau pass and dived over.
O’Brien failed to convert and Huddersfield, with Danny Brough gaining huge yardage through opportune kicking and two massive 40-20s, continued to apply all the pressure in an attempt to respond.
Ryan Hinchcliffe was held over the line on his back as terrific defence from Salford again kept the home side out.
But in the 27th minute ever-probing half-back Brough fed Ta’ai at speed and the big Tongan forward barged his way over, Brough nudging the Giants in front with the subsequent kick.
Their lead did not last long as, with the Red Devils posing a threat for only the second time, a high Michael Dobson bomb was allowed to bounce and it was palmed back for O’Brien to cross unopposed.
Dobson this time added the extras on the way to notching three goals.
Powerful wingman McGillvary roused the home crowd with a stirring run, taken on by Brierley, and seconds later, a teasing Brough kick, which Josh Griffin made a play for but completely missed, allowed Connor the simplest task of running in his fifth try of the season and fourth in three games.
Salford struck first after the break when Caton-Brown raced clear down their right flank and Josh Griffin was on hand to claim his eighth try of the campaign, Dobson restoring the Red Devils’ four point advantage.
Dobson then added a penalty but the Giants hit back approaching the hour mark when the forceful McGillvary crossed in the corner, taking his scoring run to five successive matches, and Brough tied matters from the touchline with the best of his four conversions.
Three minutes later Brough’s quick hands and vision sent Ta’ai blockbustering his way through again to put Huddersfield in front for the third time.
Salford kept the pendulum swinging with two tries in as many minutes – Carney going over in one corner then Evalds scoring in the other but, with O’Brien and Dobson missing both missing conversions, the Red Devils’ lead was only two points but they held on over the last nine minutes to win.