Castleford Tigers will go to Perpignan on Saturday with the chance to claim the League Leaders’ Shield in the penultimate match of the 2014 Super League competition, after St Helens went down 17-16 tonight at Huddersfield Giants.
Saints came into the game needing a draw to win the Shield, and when Lance Hohaia touched down on 60 minutes, following a great break by Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Mark Percival’s goal levelled the scores at 16-16.
But in a thrilling final 20 minutes, the only score was a field-goal by Leroy Cudjoe with nine minutes remaining. After that Saints fought valiantly, but they couldn’t get back on terms, and when McCarthy-Scarsbrook was controversially called offside by referee Richard Silverwood with just over 20 seconds remaining, the result was finally decided.
In the first half Saints had taken a 10-point lead with tries by Tommy Makinson and then James Roby, with Percival converting the second after 24 minutes.
But then disaster struck, when Alex Walmsley was shown a red card for a late shoulder charge to the head of Giants halfback Luke Robinson, with Robinson also taking no further part in the game.
The Giants finally got on the scoreboard just three minutes before the interval when Jake Connor, who was in the side for the absent Danny Brough, followed up his own kick to touch down. and then added the goal.
And they took the lead soon after the interval, when Shaun Lunt scored cleverly from near the line, and Connor converted the try.
And when Cudjoe picked up a loose ball to score after 58 minutes, the Giants looked to be growing in confidence, although Connor’s missed conversion kept the margin to six points.
And then came Hohaia’s try and a thrilling and tense final 20 minutes.
The Giants are now guaranteed a top-four place, while Saints will finish in the top two, while all eyes will be on Perpignan on Saturday.
A full report, analysis and photos will feature in Monday’s edition of Rugby League Express.