IMPRESSIVE Huddersfield Giants clearly put forward their title credentials last night as they overcame an ill-disciplined Warrington Wolves to usurp the Engage Super League leaders in a brutal encounter.

On an evening when champions Wigan also suffered a crushing 47-28 home defeat to struggling Catalan – they head to Hull KR on Friday seeking a first win in four games – Nathan Brown’s team flew the flag for Yorkshire by easing into pole position following a performance rich in character and skill.

Ignoring a series of sickening high challenges from their rattled opponents who could easily have seen ex-England captain Adrian Morley and David Solomona dismissed, Huddersfield took command to continue their recent dominance over the Challenge Cup holders.

Just as they did during their opening day win in Cardiff, and last season’s play-off success at Halliwell Jones Stadium, the well-organised Giants defended with passion, Australian loose forward Luke O’Donnell an imposing presence throughout, while dissecting the visitors courtesy of more brilliance from England hooker Luke Robinson, captain Kevin Brown and the increasingly striking Jermaine McGillvary.

Even their influential former captain Brett Hodgson, making his first return to the Galpharm, was powerless to prevent Huddersfield’s march, his two first-half tries rendered worthless as his old colleagues easily shut out the muddled Cheshire outfit in the second period.

Warrington sorely missed the organisational quality of injured Lee Briers, inept deputy Chris Bridge proving he may be an England centre but certainly not a stand-off, but it was Huddersfield’s aggression in defence which caused so many of their opponents’ problems forming the foundation for their seventh win of the season.

They established an 18-10 interval lead which should have been more given their dominance, breathless Warrington needing Hodgson to slice over just before the break to keep them in it.

Huddersfield struck after just four minutes, Brown’s long pass too easily giving Leroy Cudjoe enough space to suck in Rhys Evans and feed McGillvary whose clever kick back infield bounced perfectly for Scott Grix who was doing what any decent full-back should do.

Brough improved but, after Lee Gilmour wasted a glorious overlap opportunity, knocking on in his own half, Warrington made them pay immediately.

Bridge’s crossfield kick was miscued but Joel Monaghan rescued it for Matty Blythe to kick infield, Joel Monaghan doing brilliantly to pick up and send Hodgson scrambling over.

The ex-Man of Steel converted his own score but was needed to desperately scramble across and palm Brown’s kick dead after some fine build-up work from the mighty O’Donnell.

Morley earned a reputation as a hot-headed young prop but those days seemed long gone and it has been some time since the now esteemed forward has delivered such a crude high tackle as the one that left McGillvary bloodied and dazed in the 15th minute.

The young England Knights winger recovered sufficiently to go on and deliver another robust display, gaining his seventh try of the year to finish Warrington off, but Morley’s team-mates seemed intent on following their captain’s ill-disciplined lead.

Louis Anderson went head-hunting for a five-minute spell while Solomona was lucky to escape a card in the second period when he launched himself at the hard-running Larne Patrick.

Earlier, Bridge’s wild pass to Hodgson put Warrington back under more pressure and Brough’s chip saw the doomed Hodgson gang-tackled behind his own line for another drop out.

From there, a lovely-timed short pass from Robinson sent Patrick charging to the line in the 22nd minute and they extended their lead 10 minutes later

After Brough’s kick was charged down, Huddersfield laid siege once more following a fantastic weaving run from Scott Grix, Robinson exposing weak line defence to dive over from dummy half, his fourth try in as many games since returning from injury.

Brough added his third conversion before Hodgson’s second try – the Australia arcing over in customary fashion out wide – but Huddersfield dominated the second period.

McGillvary, a powerful and forceful runner, was denied a perfectly good try eight minutes after the re-start when Brown tipped Grix’s lofted pass over to the winger only to see it pulled back for a forward pass.

Solomona ran over to Patrick immediately to apologise to his former Bradford team-mate after that high tackle and Richard Silverwood opted against a card but Brough did not let him off by slotting the penalty.

When Ben Westwood ripped possession off Patrick in a two-man tackle, Brough made it 22-10 approaching the final quarter of the match.

When he tagged on a drop goal in the 63rd minute, Warrington heads visibly dropped and it was left to the deserving McGillvary to finish the job late on, latching on to another exquisite pinpoint Brown pass, Brough landing the touchline conversion.

Nathan Brown got his tactics and selection right once more – internationals Darrell Griffin and David Hodgson were left out but Patrick certainly made the most of his chance – and they head to Leeds on Friday with a growing sense of belief.

Huddersfield: Grix; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Lawrence, Simpson; Brown, Brough; Crabtree, Robinson, Raleigh, Gilmour, Ferguson, O’Donnell. Substitutes: Lunt, Faiumu, Patrick, Kirmond.

Warrington: Hodgson; J Monaghan, Blythe Atkins, Evans; Bridge, Myler; Morley, M Monaghan, Carvell, Anderson, Westwood, Harrison. Substitutes: Clarke, Wood, Cooper, Solomona.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).

source: Yorkshire Post

Just a fortnight ago, people were seriously questioning whether there was any side capable of beating Warrington this season, so convincingly were they playing. Now they have lost twice in a week.

Huddersfield moved two points clear at the top of Super League with a display that showed they can win the big games against the top clubs, but for the second match running the Wolves were miles away from their scintillating best.

“Two weeks ago we were in fantastic form, but the last two weeks we’ve been very poor,” said a puzzled Warrington coach, Tony Smith. “We’re having a dip in form.”

Huddersfield’s Nathan Brown paid tribute to Australian forward Luke O’Donnell calling him “the buy of the season”. “It’s good to be top of Super League,” Brown added, “but the best teams get there and stay there.”

It was first blood to the Giants through Leroy Cudjoe’s break and perfectly timed pass to Jermaine McGillvary. The resourceful winger kicked ahead and a kind bounce put the ball straight into the arms of Brett Hodgson’s successor as Huddersfield full-back, Scott Grix.

Hodgson brought the scores level by latching on to Joel Monaghan’s tumbling one-handed pass after Chris Bridge had kicked across the field.

Hodgson was then forced over his own try-line to set up the position from which Luke Robinson sent Larne Patrick roaring through a gap for the second Giants’ try. When Grix’s run put them on the attack again, Robinson sneaked over from dummy half to put the home side in control.

Hodgson responded with a try but Warrington’s attempts to get back into contention were sabotaged by naïve handling errors. Their lack of discipline on the night showed again in Ben Westwood’s high shot on Andy Raleigh, although this time Huddersfield were content to run the ball and eat up the clock. They capped a dominant second half with a picture-book try from the outstanding McGillvary, released by Kevin Brown’s pass.

Huddersfield: Grix; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Lawrence, Simpson; Brown, Brough; Crabtree, Robinson, Raleigh, Gilmour, Ferguson, O’Donnell.

Substitutes used: Lunt, Faiumu, Patrick, Kirmond.

Warrington: Hodgson; J.Monaghan, Blythe, Atkins, Evans; Bridge, Myler; Morley, M.Monaghan, Carvell, Anderson, Westwood, Harrison.

Substitutes used: Clarke, Wood, Cooper, Solomona.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).

Source: Dave Hadfield, The Independent

HUDDERSFIELD Giants are facing an anxious wait over the fitness of top prop Keith Mason.

The in-form 29-year-old front-rower suffered a cruciate ligament injury during the final stages of yesterday’s victory over Wakefield.

Mason is set to have scans to assess the full extent of the damage after leaving the Galpharm on crutches.

But Giants head coach Nathan Brown fears the no-nonsense packman could be facing some time on the sidelines.

And with former New Zealand Test back-rower David Fa’alogo not expected to make a return with a leg injury, Brown knows he could be without two of his most combative forwards for Friday’s big home top-of-the-table clash against Warrington Wolves.

“At this stage, we know Keith has done some damage, it’s just to what extent,” said Brown.

“We’re obviously hoping it’s not too serious, it’s just a case of waiting to see.

“We certainly don’t expect to see him this Friday night, and we’re also not sure about David Fa’alogo either. He’s more unlikely than likely to be back.

“But their absence does at least give other people in our squad the opportunity to play this weekend.

“Keith and Doof would have been in the 17 if they’d have been fit for Friday, so there are openings.”

source: Examiner

Coach Nathan Brown denied the changes he made to his Huddersfield team had anything to do with a poor first-half showing against Wakefield.

A torrid opening 40 minutes suggested the Giants were struggling for rhythm, before they picked up the pace to run out 34-10 winners.

Brown dropped six regulars ahead of Friday’s clash with Warrington and said: “We’ve made changes to the team over the last six games and the players who’ve come in have done well. But the players didn’t look hungry at the start. There was a lack of intensity.”

He continued: “The improvement wasn’t down to what I said at half-time, but more what the players did. They came out with more aggression in the second half.”

Brown revealed Keith Mason is to have a scan on a suspected knee injury, and added: “Some high quality players have not played and we could be missing another one in Keith. But it’s a chance for someone else to step up.”

Huddersfield led only 6-4 at the break, but two tries each for Graeme Horne and Michael Lawrence turned the match. Shaun Lunt scored late on to give the result a lopsided look. Wakefield scored in the first half through Chris Dean, with Ben Jeffries notching a converted touchdown on 51 minutes.

Wildcats coach John Kear was disappointed at how Wakefield let the game slip in the second half and said: “We showed good skill and a strong commitment to defence in the first half. But we’ve got to realise rugby league lasts 80 minutes. It’s not 40 really good minutes and then 40 minutes of hanging on.

“I can’t fault the players for their efforts. But we’re on a learning curve and the players had better learn it quickly. Julien Rinaldi had a great game, and he’s in form. He was one of the few who applied himself for the full 80 minutes.”

Kear added he was unlikely to make any more signings after Liam Higgins and Tyrone McCarthy joined in the week, adding: “I don’t think we’ll be able to get the squad to where we’d like it to be this season.

“The time for recruitment has passed and we’ll probably have to work with what we’ve got. But there’s always a chance that we could bring a player or two in because we’re still under the salary cap.”

source: Congleton Guardian

“TINKERMAN” Nathan Brown will chop and change for the last time on Sunday and then throw down the gauntlet to his players.

Giants coach Brown has so far used 28 players in seven games and will again make wholesale changes as they look for their sixth win.

But Brown, who rests his namesake captain Kevin, said the time has almost come for players to grab their shirts for good.

He said: “I have rotated the squad because I genuinely believe this is the best for the team at this stage.

“We have got a lot of younger players who have deserved their chance to show what they can do and we still don’t know what our best team is and what positions some players should be playing.

“But after this weekend we plan to field what we believe is our best 17. Then the other players in the squad will have to chase and catch them.”

source: News Of The World

DANNY KIRMOND is hoping the way the Giants fans got behind their team at Hull KR is a taste of things to come.

The 25-year-old back-row forward was delighted to come through his first game of Super League XVI unscathed, especially as Huddersfield notched up an impressive 38-16 Craven Park triumph.

But the former Featherstone Rovers winger thought the support his side received from the claret and gold faithful was the icing on the cake of a fifth win from seven top-flight starts.

And he is hoping it’s repeated plenty more times this season.

“Hull KR have some of the best and most vocal fans in the competition,” said Kirmond.

“The noise they made early on was incredible and was bound to inspire their side.

“But in the final 20 minutes, they hardly made a sound, and it was our fans who were making the most noise.

“I don’t think it was any real coincidence that’s when we really started to take complete control.

“Our fans really did give us a huge lift.

“Let’s just hope it’s a theme that now continues between now and the end of the season.

“We certainly hope it’s the case at home to Wakefield on Sunday.”

Kirmond is expected to retain his place in the Giants’ back-row, particularly with David Fa’alogo remaining on the sidelines.

The former New Zealand Test forward is still struggling with a slight leg injury.

Head coach Nathan Brown has made it he was close to playing this weekend, but will instead be saved for the home clash against Warrington the following Friday.

And with Kirmond having spent last season on loan at Wakefield, he’s looking forward to meeting up with his old pals.

“I’m sure the boys will be giving me a bit of stick,” he continued. “But I think they’ll be saving most of it up for Dale Ferguson.

“He did, of course, spend al of pre-season at Wakefield and played the first game of this season with them before signing for us.

“So I think he could be in for a fun afternoon!”

Source: Examiner

Jamie Simpson owes his life to rugby league.

It was the distant, seemingly forlorn prospect of playing in Australia’s NRL that drove the teenager through the grim times as he fought his battle with cancer.

Eight years on, Simpson is playing in Super League with Huddersfield, having achieved his boyhood ambition with South Sydney, and is living life to the full following his brush with death.

It is a heart-warming story of a young man desperate not to succumb to the killer disease Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and equally determined to pass that message onto other sufferers.

“I was 13 or 14 when I got diagnosed with cancer,” he recalled. “Being that young, it didn’t hit home to me.

“It was probably a blessing in disguise because I just looked forward and thought positive through it all.”

Simpson, who comes from the flood-hit town of Rockhampton in Queensland, had cancer of the lymph nodes which had spread to his groin, abdomen and shoulder by the time he was correctly diagnosed.

“Initially I got mis-diagnosed by a doctor, who said it was a blood clot,” he said.

“But it didn’t go away and I went to a different doctor about some lumps in my shin.

“Within a week I had been biopsied, diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had my first surgery to get it removed. It all happened really quickly and then I went into six months of chemotherapy.

“I was halfway through when they said it had gone but two weeks later I relapsed and had to have a stem cell transplant which is the last resort.

“I lost 20 kilograms, caught pneumonia and had chronic back problems and I spent my 17th birthday in hospital.”

While in isolation in late 2003, legendary Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett gave young Simpson a signed copy of his autobiography with a personal message: “Tough time comes and goes but tough guys last forever”.

The message clearly hit home for, despite being unable to play the game for over two years, he remained in touch by helping coach his school team.

“It might seem funny to say but I wouldn’t change anything,” he said. It’s made me the strong person that I am today and I’m thankful for the things I’ve been through.

“I would say rugby league was a really big driving force in me getting through the cancer. It was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to play NRL. Never ever did I think I would achieve it but it was a goal.”

Simpson has annual check-ups but has now been in remission for eight years and, in his role as ambassador for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, has been keen to demonstrate his gratitude to the doctors who helped him.

“I would go to hospitals and join in fund-raising events,” he said. “That’s my way of putting back in.

“I like to see the kids that are in my situation so that I can help them. I’ve been where they are and they can see where I am now and they can get through it. I’m looking forward to do something similar over here.”

After playing for Brisbane’s feeder clubs, Simpson was given the chance to make his NRL debut with Souths in 2008 and he went on to make 37 appearances for them before jumping at the chance to move to England in the winter.

The 24-year-old utility back, who has signed a two-year deal with the Giants with a one-year option, had interest from Catalan Dragons but believes fate took him to Yorkshire.

“I really wanted to come over to England and play rugby league,” he said. “I watched a Huddersfield game on TV last year and thought I wouldn’t mind going there.

“I remember looking at the Galpharm and thought it was a cool looking stadium.

“Catalans showed an interest but ultimately I chose Huddersfield because it’s a great organisation with a great coaching staff and, hopefully, it will better my football career.”

source: Sporting Life

GIANTS coach Nathan Brown will once again have a full squad at his disposal for Saturday’s Super League XVI trip to Hull KR.

All 17 who were involved in last Friday’s bruising 20-6 home defeat to champions Wigan Warriors have this week reported back to training injury-free.

That includes fit-again hooker Luke Robinson, who was playing his first game since last November following shoulder and elbow surgery, and full-back Scott Grix, who suffered a bout of concussion just before half-time but was able to continue after the break.

And with the duo having been two of the plus points from a disappointing Galpharm night, Brown is delighted they will be available to face the Robins at New Craven Park for yet another Giants’ Sky-televised fixture, which will now kick off at 5.45pm (not 6.15pm as initially advertised) after a change by the broadcasters.

“The game against Wigan was pretty tough physically, but everyone looks to have come through okay,” said Brown, who seems certain to maintain his start-of-the-season rotation policy for the trip to the east coast.

“Obviously, we were all hoping Robbo would come through his first game and that Grixy would be fit to continue when he was left feeling concussed.

“But they are both very tough players, and it’s great to have them available this weekend.

“For Robbo to be back last Friday following his shoulder reconstruction and major elbow surgery is a pretty incredible achievement, especially when you saw the way he played.

“He was very good as soon as he got on the field and immediately underlined his importance to us going forward as a team.

“And Grixy was also very good again.

“He’s played to a consistently high standard for us this season and we’re all delighted with the way he has taken his opportunity to be first-choice full-back.”

Although it would be a major shock if Robinson and Grix were to be left out this weekend, several changes could well be made.

source: Examiner

Huddersfield Giants prop Keith Mason has revealed that he may pull on the red shirt of Wales again in this year’s Four Nations.

The 29-year-old was recently overlooked for Steve McNamara’s England Elite Training Squad, but he hasn’t given up hope of being picked in the future.

Indeed, it is clear that Wales represent a ‘Plan B’ for him if he fails to earn a call-up for the land of his birth.

“It would probably be an option to play for Wales, because it would be nice to play in a tournament like that involving Australia and New Zealand,” he told reporters.

“So it could be an option for me.”

The forward believes that with England props such as Adrian Morley and Jamie Peacock approaching the end of their careers, his chance might yet come for England.

“It’s a long season and if I play well I might have a chance,” he added.

“Peacock and Morley have been there for years, and they’re good players obviously.

“I like to think I’m a similar player, and like to dominate as they do, but they’re getting to the back end of their careers and they’re not going to play in the World Cup, unless they’re supermen.

“It would be nice to get into the squad and show the coach what I can do.”

Mason, who also played for England ‘A’ after representing Wales in 2001 and 2002, believes that scrapping the Great Britain team in 2006 was a mistake, as it forced players such as him and club-mate Danny Brough to turn their back on the Celtic countries in order to play at a higher level with England.

“I don’t know why they got rid of Great Britain, and it shouldn’t have happened,” the forward said.

“Great Britain’s a real tradition in Rugby League and [scrapping] it has probably stopped players like Lee Briers and Danny Brough playing at that level in recent years.

“If they picked a Great Britain team then players who didn’t make it could still play for another nation [in the European Cup] and that was the best set-up.

“But when I played for England ‘A’ I got a letter from Greg McCallum at the RFL that playing for Wales wouldn’t affect my chances of playing for the full England side in the future.”

Keith was talking in this months Rugby League World.

source: Code13 RL

Huddersfield coach Nathan Brown expects his captain and namesake Kevin to provide a timely reminder of his international qualities when the table-topping Giants take on Engage Super League champions Wigan at the Galpharm Stadium.

Stand-off Brown made his England debut in last summer’s Test against France and played in two of the three games in the Four Nations Series down under but was the most notable omission when national coach Steve McNamara named his 32-strong elite training squad.

“I was very surprised,” said Brown the coach. “He is comfortably one of the better halves in the competition. It’s not for me to tell coaches who they should or shouldn’t pick but I would pick him. He’s playing some really good footie. He was probably our best player last weekend.”

He added: “As time goes on, I’m sure that the right people will see that he’s playing well and he’ll get a go with England.

“It’s all about who’s playing well at the end of the year and, if the Giants are going really well, Kev’s going to be playing well and he’ll get picked. That’s how it works.”

Brown’s former Wigan team-mate and half-back partner Luke Robinson, one of the undoubted successes of England’s disappointing Four Nations campaign, will make his comeback from injury against the champions, who are without England duo Sam and Joel Tomkins through suspension.

Friday’s match marks the 100th Wigan appearance for both prop Andy Coley and centre George Carmont, who is expecting a difficult test from the early-season pacesetters.

“Huddersfield will be a tough game for us,” said Carmont. “They have proved over the last couple of years they will be genuine contenders and we will have to be on our game.”

Source: PA