PANTHER PRIDE | A big win for the mountain men tonight has them firmly entrenched in the top eight, ...
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Beaten Powergen Challenge Cup finalists Huddersfield Giants quickly got over their Twickenham blues to secure a precious 24-18 win over Salford City Reds that virtually banishes any danger of relegation from the engage Super League.
Evergreen half-half Robbie Paul was the Giants? hero, finishing off a break by prop Eorl Crabtree to score the match-winning try a minute from the end of a tense clash at the Galpharm Stadium.
A third win of the season over Salford lifted the Giants into eighth place, four points clear of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, who will be relegated if they fail to beat Bradford Bulls next weekend.
The Reds looked to have claimed a share of the spoils by scoring two tries while their opponents were down to 12 men, but they now still need a point to make sure of a first-ever play-off.
Playing into a stiff breeze, Huddersfield got off to the best possible start, with influential hooker Brad Drew following up his own grubber kick to touch down after five minutes.
The Reds drew level seven minutes later when their most impressive player, prop forward Andy Coley, tore through the Giants? defence for a solo try and then went in front on 20 minutes when neat handling created an overlap for winger John Wilshere to cross at the corner.
David Hodgson was wide with both conversion attempts while Huddersfield?s Michael de Vere made up for his early miss by putting over two penalties and the home side went back in front 10 minutes before half-time when centre Chris Nero took stand-off Kevin Brown?s pass to scythe through for a try.
De Vere?s third goal made it 14-8 at the break and that is the way it stayed until the 59th minute. Nero came up with a half-break and the supporting full-back Paul Reilly took his pass to force his way over for his side?s third try.
Salford ought to have made more of a clean break by prop Sean Rutgerson but they took advantage of the sin-binning of Nero for holding down in the tackle when full-back Karl Fitzpatrick jinked his way over on 65 minutes.
Chris Charles? conversion cut the deficit to just four points and, in a dramatic finish, both sides had chances to clinch the points.
Reilly followed up Chris Thorman?s kick to the line but failed to control the ball and then Huddersfield winger Stuart Donlan pulled off a superb try-saving tackle to deny Hodgson in full flight.
There was no stopping Hodgson moments later, however, as Salford worked an overlap for the ex-Wigan Warriors winger to touch down at the corner.
Charles was wide with the goal kick to leave the scores tied but Huddersfield had the final say when a magnificent burst from Crabtree split the Salford defence and gave Paul a clear run to the line.
Huddersfield Giants (14) 24 Tries: Drew, Nero, Reilly, Paul. Goals: De Vere 4.
Salford City Reds (8) 18 Tries: Coley, Wilshere, Fitzpatrick, Hodgson. Goals: Charles.
Huddersfield Giants: Reilly, Aspinwall, Nero, De Vere, Donlan, Brown, Paul, Jackson, Drew, Gannon, Smith, Raleigh, Wild. Replacements: Thorman, Crabtree, Jones, McDonald.
Salford City Reds: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, McGuinness, Moule, Wilshere, Dunemann, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Rutgerson, Brocklehurst, Littler, Finnigan. Replacements: Highton, Adamson, Lima, Charles.
Referee: S Ganson