Huddersfield Giants have boosted their top-four hopes today with a hard-fought 12-14 away victory against the Catalans Dragons.
With their final game a home encounter against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats they now look certain to finish the regular season in fourth place, giving them four home games when the Super 8s begin next month.
Two tries from Jermaine McGillvary helped the Giants become only the second team to beat the under-strength Dragons this season at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.
In hot conditions the game began with a lengthy delay after just two minutes when Catalans second rower Elliott Whitehead suffered a head injury while attempting to tackle Ukuma Ta’ai. Medical staff spent ten minutes treating Whitehead before he was stretchered off.
Whitehead’s injury seemed to have an unsettling effect on the other players, at least until the Giants opened the scoring in the 28th minute through McGillvary’s first try as he was fed by Leroy Cudjoe. Jamie Ellis successfully landed a touchline conversion.
Giants captain Danny Brough was sent to the sin-bin just before the interval and the Dragons took advantage, levelling the score through Krisnan Inu, with Scott Dureau converting to send the sides into the break at 6-6.
Early in the second half Inu made a break from deep inside his own half after Joe Wardle had dropped the ball. Inu then fed Morgan Escaré, who sped over under the sticks. Dureau’s conversion gave the Catalans a six-point lead.
McGillvary scored his second soon afterwards, however, taking a floating pass from Scott Grix to score, with Ellis converting again, although the home fans were convinced the final pass had been forward.
A penalty for a ball steal on Ukama Ta’ai presented Ellis with a chance to put the Giants ahead, and he scored his third goal.
The Catalans had a penalty two minutes later, but Dureau’s shot drifted wide of the posts, and the Giants were able to hold on for a narrow win.
The Catalans, how in eighth place, visit Leeds in their final game, and their points difference is 64 points better than Hull KR’s, who are two points behind them and visit St Helens in their final game.
It would take a shock of seismic proportions for the Dragons not to finish in the top eight.
A full report and photos from this game will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express.