It was third against sixth as the Huddersfield Giants took on the Salford Red Devils for a place in the semi finals against either St Helens (should Salford win) or the Wigan Warriors (should the Giants end the game in the box seat). With Salford´s current excellent form the bookies were struggling to choose between the two sides with the home side made slight favourites for the win.
Salford won easily, by 33-16, the last time the two sides met just over a month ago, but the Giants won the encounter in July by 30-18, the game really was wide open.
It was again billed as Ian Watson against his former side, he would have spent the week telling his side that they were the focus, not him. The scene was set for a classic.
A high tackle from Chris McQueen on Shane Wright with six minutes on the clock gave Marc Sneyd the penalty kick opportunity to open the scoring for the Salford Red Devils as he knocked the ball between the uprights from fifteen metres out.
Right from the back of the scrum the Red Devils were in again on fourteen, Joe Burgess taking the pass in space down the left side to run round the edge of the Giants defence and dot down ion the corner. Sneyd added the touchline conversion for an 8-0 lead. The Red Devils were looking in full control.
Within two minutes they were in again, Kallum Watkins completing the score after a great break and pass from Brodie Croft. Sneyd was again on target for 14-0, the Giants couldn´t get hold of the ball
On twenty-one a dangerous tackle from Owen Trout gifted Sneyd another penalty goal, the Red Devils on their ´A´ game, Ian Watson´s side a poor second best, it shouldn´t have been this easy in a playoff game.
Hostilities broke out on twenty-three after a late tackle on Tui Lolohea by Ryan Brierley. Brierley was sin-binned for a professional foul, some respite for Huddersfield and an opportunity to score some points.
But Salford weathered the storm with a man down and kept the Giants pointless, but they´d lost some momentum. It had been a first half which was owned by Salford, Watson would need to give the half time team talk of his Giants career.
There was some fire in the Giants bellies at the start of the second half, but the Salford defence held firm. On forty-nine a deft grubber kick from Sneyd was pounced upon by Brierley to ground under the sticks. Sneyd added the conversion for 22-0, the game quickly drifting away from the Giants.
An awful drop goal attempt from Sneyd on seventy-seven ran down the clock.With a minute left on the clock Andy Ackers broke downfield and pulled an outrageous dummy to score under the sticks to round of the perfect game for the Red Devils. Sneyd added the conversion on the final hooter for a 28-0 win.
It was a tremendous victory for the Salford Red Devils as their season rolls on for another week as they now travel to the Totally Wicked Stadium to take on St Helens, the side who defeated them in the 2019 Grand Final at Old Trafford. The Giants season has ended in a damp squib as they failed to live up to the pre-match hype and expectation and capitulated by getting nilled by their opponents in the most important game of the season.
Huddersfield Giants: Lolohea, Senior I, Leutele, King, Cudjoe, Russell, Fages, Trout, Levi, Hill, McQueen, Jones, Yates. Subs: Pryce, Greenwood, Ikahihifo, English.
Salford Red Devils: Brierley (T, SB on 24), Sio, Lafai, Cross, Burgess (T), Croft, Sneyd (6G), Dupree, Ackers (T), Gerrard, Watkins (T), Taylor, Wright. Subs: Vuniyayawa, Atkin, Ormondroyd, Luckley.
Score Progression: 0-2, 0-6, 0-8, 0-12, 0-14, 0-16, (SB) : HT : 0-20, 0-22, 0-26, 0-28 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Salford.
Referee: Robert Hicks.