Huddersfield 19 Wigan 19

George Williams hit a late drop-goal to ensure it finished all-square between these two sides for the second time this year.

Friday, 23rd June 2017, 11:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:35 am
Warriors coach Shaun Wane

Following a 16-16 tie at the DW Stadium, they each claimed a point from a fast, frantic contest.

The result ensured Wigan took an unwanted record - matching the eight-game winless streak of 1903 - and denied them the chance to make up more ground on those sides above them. It also stretched their run against Huddersfield to nine meetings without defeat.

Liam Marshall bagged two tries, either side of half-time, to take his tally to 22 tries in 19 games.

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Williams maintained his new-found radar with the boot, hitting three conversions and a 68th-minute drop-goal. But Huddersfield’s early damage, when they took a 13-0 lead as the visitors were napping, eased their ability to claw their way back into the contest and set up a tense, entertaining finish.

Sam Tomkins and John Bateman, so impressive on their comebacks in the nail-biting 27-26 victory against Warrington, were again impressive. Wigan were patchy in spells, but credit to their opponents - they played with gusto, ran hard, and in Leroy Cudjoe and Jermaine McGillvary, have backs capable of causing damage.

Anthony Gelling and Taulima Tautai dropped out of Wigan’s line-up from last week with injuries, presenting chances to winger Tom Davies and teenage forward Jack Wells. Resurgent Huddersfield, who had won their previous three games to claw out of the bottom-four, were without their livewire full-back Jake Mamo.

But they made a dream start, establishing a 13-0 lead before Wigan awoke and replied with two converted tries before the break.

The Giants dominated the opening exchanges, bouncing up from tackles quickly to put their opponents frequently on the back-foot. But from Wigan’s perspective, their two tries were soft.

Cudjoe ghosted through a scattered defence in the ninth minute and, after Danny Brough had booted a 40-20, and then forced a repeat set, the Scotland captain booted an early drop-goal to make it 7-0. Wigan did get into a good attacking position, briefly, but Thomas Leuluai lost possession as he lunged for the line and the game reverted to a familiar pattern - Huddersfield monopolosing possession.

From another repeat set, Brough skidded a ball through into the ingoal, and make-shift centre Burgess was hesitant to react, allowing the chasing Lee Gaskell to ground the ball.

With Martyn Ridyard off for treatment, Brough took over the goal-kicking and made it 13-0 and some may have feared a landslide. Only some desperate defending had earlier held up Shannon Wakeman over the line.

But Wigan ramped up their performance, began controlling their ball better and attacking with energy and pace. John Bateman, their best player in the opening quarter, drove for the line and had the power to squeeze over.

And after being awarded back-to-back penalties, they pressured the Giants line again. Williams’ drilled kick appeared to be too strong, but Marshall soared onto the ball, the officials happy he had grounded before tumbling over the deadball line.

Williams added his second conversion to cut the gap to a slender one-point, and that is how it stayed until half-time.

The break did not disrupt Wigan’s new-found rhythm. A penalty may have piggybacked them down field but the way they took control was majestic, as the ball was crisply passed to the left, and Tomkins’ cut-out pass allowed Marshall to dive spectacularly over the corner flag. Williams maintained his recent good form with the boot, adding the extras to give them an 18-13 lead.

Oliver Gildart and Cudjoe traded errors under strong tackles - despite the drizzly conditions, handling from both sides was relatively good, producing a fast, open contest.

Tomkins dealt well with Huddersfield’s aerial assault - and stopped a rampaging Jermaine McGillvary run - as the home side desperately attempted to conjure a response. With 16 minutes to go, their persistence paid off as McGillvary thundered over despite Tomkins’ attempt to halt him. Brough’s conversion edged them one-point in front.

But a sharp, controlled attack by Wigan set up the position for Williams to hit a one-pointer - from 35m out - to lock the scores. The end-to-end exchanges continued and Willie Isa did well to pressure Brough into slicing a drop-goal attempt wide.

At the other end, Leuluai snapped a drop-goal attempt wide with 45 seconds to go. And so Wigan’s hunt for an elusive league win continued - their month on the road comes to an end when they return home to the DW Stadium for the visit of Widnes a week on Sunday.

Huddersfield: McIntosh; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Gaskell, Murphy; Brough, Ridyard; Ikahihifo, Leeming, Wakeman, Roberts, Mellor, Hinchcliffe. Subs: Ta’ai, Clough, Mason, Dickinson.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Davies, Burgess, Gildart, Marshall; Williams, Leuluai; Nuuausala, McIlorum, J Tomkins, Bateman, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Subs: Sutton, Isa, Powell, Wells.

Referee: Gareth Hewer

Half-time: 13-12

Attendance: 5,718

Starman: John Bateman

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