Live Commentary: Huddersfield Giants 8-22 Wigan Warriors - as it happened

Live Commentary: Huddersfield 8-22 Wigan - as it happened
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Sports Mole brings you live coverage of the first Super League qualifying playoff as the Huddersfield Giants take on the Wigan Warriors.

The Wigan Warriors moved within 80 minutes of reaching the Super League Grand Final this evening courtesy of a 22-8 win over the Huddersfield Giants.

The Giants, who came into the match having topped the regular season table, started brightly and took an early lead through Danny Brough's fine solo effort.

Wigan slowly fought their way back into the match and Josh Charnley scored a Super League record 40th try in all competitions to level things up. A penalty from either side made it 8-8 at the break.

It was all Wigan in the second half, and Charnley added another try to his bulging tally before Blake Green put the match beyond doubt by going over in the 69th minute.

Matty Smith added two drop goals to complete the scoring as Wigan advanced to the qualifying semi-finals, while Huddersfield will need to progress via the preliminary semis if they are to keep their Grand Final dream alive.

You can read how an exciting 80 minutes of playoff rugby unfolded with Sports Mole's live coverage below.


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7.30pmGood evening! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for the first night of the post-season campaign in rugby league as the Huddersfield Giants take on the Wigan Warriors in a qualifying playoff.

7.32pmLet's start by looking at our hosts tonight, and what a season they have had. The Giants topped the regular season table for the first time since the Super League began this season, and they did it in style.

7.34pmThe Giants were in impeccable form for the vast majority of their season and will be looking to carry that on during the playoffs as they go for their first ever Super League Championship crown. Their last outing was an anomaly as they lost 58-6 to the Bradford Bulls, but Paul Anderson's side was missing a number of key first team players, most of whom will return today.

7.36pmIn fact, just four players have been retained in the squad from that defeat on the final day of the season as Anderson brings his big guns back in. Among them are the five Huddersfield players who made this year's Super League dream team - Leroy Cudjoe, Danny Brough, Shaun Lunt, Eorl Crabtree and Brett Ferres.

7.38pmDanny Brough is a man to keep a particularly close eye on. He was the top scorer in the entire Super League last season, picking up 281 points thanks largely to 127 kicks he made during the campaign. He was also something of a creative force this season, picking up 30 assists - a tally that puts him second in the league behind Rangi Chase (35) of the Castleford Tigers.

7.40pmWigan have plenty of weapons in the arsenal as well, though. Most notable of the lot is Josh Charnley, who has been in imperious form so far this season. He leads the Super League in tries scored for the second consecutive season, picking up 30 tries.

7.42pmJust behind him in the try-scoring charts is the one and only Sam Tomkins. He has scored 23 tries this season, but he is also a creative threat as well, picking up 19 assists. Tomkins was last year's Man of Steel, and his performances during the current campaign have certainly shown why.

7.44pmCharnley and Tomkins are two of four players in the Wigan side who were named in this year's Super League dream team. Captain Sean O'Loughlin - who is missing today due to an Achilles injury - and Matty Smith make up the other two. Interestingly, the trio of Charnley, Tomkins and O'Loughlin are the only survivors from the 2012 dream team.

7.46pmThe Warriors also lost their last match, going down 20-6 to the Leeds Rhinos is a straight shootout for third place. Wigan's loss meant that they dropped to fourth and set up this match against Huddersfield. They will be looking for their third Super League Championship.

7.48pmWigan will also be looking to pick up the double this year, having triumphed in the Challenge Cup. They beat Hull 16-0 in the final, setting up a chance to become the first side to pick up both the Challenge Cup and the Super League Championship in the same season since St Helens managed it in 2006.

7.50pmAll of that builds up to a mouth-watering clash this evening. Seven points separated these two in the final league standings this season, but Wigan will still fancy their chances of progressing to the qualifying semi finals tonight.

7.52pmFor the losers, they will still have another chance to make the semi-finals due to the fact that they finished in the top four during the regular season. While the winners go through to the qualifying semi-finals straight away, the losing team will go into a preliminary semi-finals against the winners of the elimination playoffs, and the winners of the preliminary semis go into the qualifying semis.

7.54pmThere are plenty of sub-plots to this match which should make it even more of a spectacle. Nine of the 13 members of the Super League dream team come from these sides, it will be the 2012 regular season table-toppers against the 2013 regular season table-toppers and it will also pit the best attack in the Super League this season (Huddersfield - 851 points scored) against the best defence (Wigan - 460 points conceded).

7.56pmWigan have experience on their sides having reached the playoffs numerous times before, but nobody has experience of this match in the playoffs. These two sides have never met at this stage before.

7.58pmIn the regular season, it was Huddersfield who had the better of things this year. They beat Wigan 22-10 when they came here to the John Smith's Stadium in February before winning the reverse fixture 30-12. Wigan do edge the overall record between these two sides, but that will mean little today.

8pmHuddersfield are not used to coming into this stage of the season as favourites, and it will be interesting to see how they cope with that. Huddersfield have made just 10 playoff appearances compared to Wigan's 39. Wigan have also reached the Grand Final five times, winning twice.

8.02pmWigan have only won one match in their last five outings, however. That came in the Challenge Cup final, but it is fair to say that they have lost their way a little beat in recent weeks. Still, they know how to win at this stage.

1 minKICKOFF: Here we go then! The 2013 Super League playoffs are underway, and the Giants have the ball.

2 minThe Giants make a blistering start to the match and are awarded an early penalty. They make great progress down the field before their first kick results in Pat Richards being pushed out behind the try line.

4 minCharnley has been making headlines for his attacking prowess this season, but that is brilliant defending from him there. He bats a Brough kick out of play, resulting in a second goal-line dropout already.

4 minTRY! Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants)

4 minMagnificent from the Huddersfield captain! After a brilliant start from his side he leads by example to slip through a gap before beating the fullback and touchdown. Just magic from Brough, who is unstoppable this season. He could be on his way to a second consecutive Man of Steel award.

6 minGreat noise from crowd is accompanying this superb start from Huddersfield. Brough hoists a high ball upfield and Tomkins collects it under very heavy pressure. Wigan have the ball for the first time tonight.

8 minWigan's spell in possession results in an up-and-under that is safely caught by the Giants, who prepare to launch yet another attack before Brough sends a fine kick into touch.

10 minA Wigan kick is collected well by Grix, but the visitors get the ball back soon enough after a huge tackle, and now have the ball within five metres of the Huddersfield line.

11 minThat Giants defend valiantly and Wigan are forced to send a grubber kick through that trickles out of play. Very sturdy defending from Huddersfield there.

13 minFlower wriggles away from a Crabtree tackle before running straight into Grix, who holds firm to bring him down. On their last tackle they send another grubber kick through that is touched down by the Giants, resulting in a goal-line dropout. Wigan are starting to respond to Huddersfield's blistering start.

14 minMcIlorum is receiving treatment for a bleeding lip now having gifted the ball back to the Giants with a sloppy forward pass. That was a mile forward, no question about it.

15 minCharnley fails to collect a high kick and Wigan are penalised for a knock on, which occurred after Charnley's fumble. Huddersfield have a scrum in the opposition 22 now.

16 minBrett Ferres heaves himself through three challenges and claims for a try, but it was a tough one to see. We will go to the video ref for the first time tonight...

16 minNO TRY! The replay shows that Ferres did not get the ball down after some very good defending from Tomkins, who got his knee under the ball. Huddersfield resume just short of the line, but a poor pass allows Wigan to get the ball back and that is a big opportunity missed for the hosts.

17 minGrix comes to the rescue there! Green sends a kick through towards the try line and it goes right through Eorl Crabtree's legs as he tries to collect it, Massimo Taibi style. Grix is well-positioned to knock it behind, though. Another goal-line dropout to come.

19 minGreen hoists a high crossfield kick towards Pat Richards, but the big winger jumps too early and misses the ball when a well-timed leap would have given him a very good chance. That is another missed opportunity for Wigan, and they need to start coming away with points from these visits to the 22.

20 minThese conditions are taking their toll now. It is pouring down at the moment, and Wigan fumble inside their own 22 which gifts the ball right back to Huddersfield in a very good position. Too many unforced errors at the moment.

22 minWigan are penalised for a harsh ball steal, and Huddersfield's tackle count is restored just inside the Wigan half.

23 minKopczak is the latest to spill the ball, which is the 11th handling error in the opening 23 minutes. Huddersfield have had six and Wigan five as the players try to get used to these awful conditions.

24 minTRY! Josh Charnley (Wigan Warriors)

24 minThat is exactly why he is the top try scorer this season. Charnley's pace allows him to beat his man on the outside before he slid in from the five-yard line, using the slippery conditions to take him over the line. That is his 40th try in all competitions this season and he becomes the first man in Super League history to reach that tally, beating Lesley Vainikolo's record. The kick is made, and we are all square now.

26 minGreen gets away with that one. He fumbles a kickoff but has reached his foot out of bounds so, although he dropped the ball, Wigan will have a penalty back on the halfway line. Interestingly, Pat Richards is going to go for goal from here.

27 minPENALTY! Wow, that is impressive. Richards makes the kick with a good 15 yards to spare, and there is no question about the accuracy either. Wigan take the lead.

28 minOh after all that hard work getting back into this match Wigan have just made three handling errors in quick succession to give the ball right back to the Giants.

30 minWigan get away with it courtesy of another mistake, though. This time it is Kyle Wood who knocks it on, and Wigan have the ball back. We saw how the conditions could be used to a team's advantage with Charnley's try, but it is certainly causing them more problems than not right now.

31 minHansen falls just short of the line on the fourth tackle thanks to some good last-gasp defending. The resulting kick sees Grix caught in the goal area, so Huddersfield will kick it back to Wigan now.

33 minThe Giants so nearly find a way through with a half-break which is just about closed down. Brough chips a kick over with the outside of his boot that Charnley needs to tip out again. That is the third time he's done that this evening.

34 minBrough is starting to orchestrate things here. He sends another kick off the outside of his boot and again it almost creates a try for Huddersfield. Wigan defend it well, though, with Green mopping up behind the line to set up another goal-line dropout.

36 minWigan's kick if charged down by Brett Ferres, who hung a leg out to block it. Fortunately for the visitors, however, it bounces out of play so they will get the ball back.

38 minGelling looks like he is holding Brough down and the Huddersfield skipper is not happy about it. He squares up to the Wigan man and looks like he is about to swing for him until thinking better of it. After all that, Brough is penalised for a knock on, which is a very strange decision.

39 minPENALTY! Anything Richards can do, Brough can do better. It is perhaps slightly closer than Richards' earlier penalty, but Brough has a tighter angle to cope with. Even so, he plonks it over with ease and with plenty of room to spare too.

40 minHALF TIME: Huddersfield Giants 8-8 Wigan Warriors

8.52pmWhat an exciting half of rugby that was. The two sides go in all square, and we are no closer to finding out who will reach the qualifying semi-finals and who will be forced into the preliminary semi-finals after 40 minutes of play. These two sides look very even, and this one really could go either way.

8.54pmThe tries came from the two players perhaps most likely to get their names on the scoreboard. Danny Brough gave the Giants an early lead with a fabulous solo effort that saw him weave away from two tackles before touching down and adding to his already league-leading points tally. Charnley then scored his 40th try in all competitions this season, breaking a Super League record in the process. His was a typically good finish, and he used the conditions very well.

8.56pmThat was one example of the conditions helping out tonight but, in general, they have caused havoc. The match has been littered with handling errors which, for a match containing some of the world's most talented players, is unusual. The rain has eased a little as the match has progressed, but it is still drizzling out there and the ball is still very slippery.

8.58pmHuddersfield began the match at a frenetic pace and Wigan just couldn't deal with the hosts early on. When they took a 6-0 lead it looked as if we could have a high-scoring match on our hands, but Wigan did very well to haul themselves back into the match and were even on top of large periods.

9pmPat Richards and Danny Brough have had the only two penalties of the match so far, and both have slotted them superbly. They showed great range and accuracy to make the kicks and, in such conditions and with a low-scoring total so far, penalties could well make the difference in this match.

9.02pmA reminder that there are three more playoff matches to come over the course of tomorrow night and Saturday. Hull FC take on the Catalan Dragons in the first of the elimination playoffs tomorrow night, a match you can follow live with Sports Mole, while Warrington Wolves vs. Leeds Rhinos and St Helens vs. Hull KR take place on Saturday.

9.04pmWe have the small matter of the second half of this one to come before any of that, however. This match seemed perfectly-poised before it kicked off, but that first half has whet the appetite even more. This match really could go either way and I anticipate an enthralling second half to decide this match. There is plenty to play for on both sides as they look to give themselves the best chance to reach the Grand Final on October 5.

41 minKICKOFF: We're back underway as the Giants kick to Wigan to begin the second half. What a 40 minutes we have in prospect here.

43 minRichard sends a high kick across the field and Charnley rises highest to collect it. He looks to have caught it cleanly under pressure, but it just slipped out of his grasp on the way down and Huddersfield have the ball back. Had Charnley caught that it was almost certainly a try.

45 minElectrifying stuff from Brough again as he shows great footwork to find a gap that looked non-existent from where I am sitting. He eventually kicks through and forced Charnley to knock it out of play again, so Wigan will have a goal-line dropout.

47 minBrough puts in his first poor kick of the day but makes up for it by making a tackle to halt a potential Wigan counter. Charnley then looks to be in full flow but the conditions come into play again as he loses his footing.

49 minCudjoe is on hand to knock the ball out and force yet another goal-line dropout. Wigan have started this second half very well and, much like they couldn't get their hands on the ball in the opening stages of the first half, Huddersfield are struggling to get possession now.

51 minWigan are most certainly on top right now, but it wasn't that way at the start of the first half. Here is an image of Giants skipper Danny Brough going over for his superb opening try:

Huddersfield's Danny Brough scores the opening try against Wigan during their Super League playoff match on September 12, 2013© Getty Images


52 minFor all of Wigan's dominance at the start of this half, Huddersfield have not surrendered any points. The Giants have been sturdy, stubborn and disciplined in their defence so far today, and never more so than at the start of this half.

54 minTRY! Josh Charnley (Wigan Warriors)

54 minThis man just can't stop scoring at the moment! Tomkins is the creator as his pass sets the try up on a plate for tonight's record-breaker, and Charnley is never going to be caught from 10 yards out with a clear run. He goes over, and Richards adds the extras to extends his side's the lead.

56 minGreen is baffled by the official's decision to award a knock-on from the restart, but the replays show that is was the right decision, so Huddersfield have a great chance to respond immediately here.

57 minYet another goal-line dropout as Wigan scramble a Brough kick out of bounds just in time with Luke Robinson in close attendance. More good defending.

59 minHuddersfield fall just short of the line on the fourth tackle, and Brough sends a high kick over to the opposite wing that Pat Richards knocks on. The Giants fail to take advantage of their free play, but they will get the ball back within the Wigan 22.

61 minThis is brilliant defence from Wigan. Huddersfield have been camped on their line for quite a lot of time now but Wigan simply aren't giving up any ground. Even the Giants' giant Eorl Crabtree is being stopped dead in his tracks. They go for a big play on the final tackle instead of the kick, but a knock on gifts the ball back to Wigan.

63 minMore and more mistakes are creeping into the Giants' game now. The difference in playoff experience between these two sides is starting to show in this second half, and things just aren't clicking for the hosts.

65 minMatty Smith goes for a drop goal which Ferres does well to charge down. For the second time today, though, Ferres is unlucky with his block as it falls back to Wigan and resets the tackle count.

66 minDROP GOAL! Matty Smith adds an extra point on the fifth tackle with a successful drop goal attempt this time. There is just under 15 minutes left, and Smith has just taken his side's lead to two scores rather than one. Clever play from the scrum half.

68 minAnother drop from the Giants wastes another good chance for them. Wigan simply aren't making those sorts of errors in this second half, and the Giants will need to cut them out of their game if they are to get back into this one.

69 minTRY! Blake Green (Wigan Warriors)

69 minThat could well be game over! Green goes for it on the fourth tackle, selling a dummy before relying on his pace to take his around the fullback and over the line. That is a very good try, and Richards has an easy kick to add the extras, extending Wigan's lead to 13 points.

71 minWigan have simply blown Huddersfield away in this second half. They were outplayed in the first 15 minutes of the first half but, since then, they have been the better side and deserve their lead.

73 minThe Giants have barely made it out of their own half in this second half. They had one spell of dangerous possession when they threatened to cross Wigan's line, but the Warriors held out there.

75 minHuddersfield have a penalty just inside the Wigan half now as McIlorum held Brough back when the captain was looking to collect his own kick. There is perhaps time to launch an attack now, but surely they have left it too late to comeback from the 13-point deficit?

77 minWigan certainly know how to get things done at this stage of the season. They were in poor form at the end of the regular season but, as soon as it hits the playoff stage, they seem to find another gear. It has been a playoff masterclass today.

79 minBrough has had a relatively poor second half, which is a big reason behind the Giants display. His kicking game has been good, but he hasn't created much in the second half and his passing game has been below par.

80 minDROP GOAL! Matty Smith rubs salt into the wound with a drop goal in the last action of the match, slotting it between the posts off the back of a scrum.

80 minFULL TIME: Huddersfield Giants 8-22 Wigan Warriors

9.52pmWigan's passage into the qualifying semi-finals is confirmed by the referee's whistle after a superb second half from the visitors. They completely dominated the second period, preventing Huddersfield from scoring any points while adding 14 to their own total. Textbook playoff rugby from Wigan.

9.54pmHuddersfield's time in the playoffs is not over yet, however. They will now go into the preliminary semi-finals, which will give them another chance to reach the qualifying semis. That match will take place in the week commencing September 16, which Wigan now have a week off before their match. They are 80 minutes away from the Grand Final.

9.56pmIt all started so well for the Giants. They were completely in control in the early stages but were limited to just six points from their spell of dominance. Wigan fought their way back into the match and the half-time score of 8-8 was fair.

9.58pmIt was all about Wigan in the second half, however. They controlled the ball and were resolute in defence when they needed to be too. No side has ever won the Super League Championship having finished fourth in the league, but that Wigan performance puts them right in contention to be the first team to do exactly that.

10pmRight, that's all we have time for tonight! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for what was a brilliant way to begin the Super League playoffs as Wigan taught Huddersfield a lesson in rugby at this stage of the season, winning 22-8. Be sure to stick around for our match report, which will be on site shortly, and we will have more live rugby league action for you tomorrow night as Hull FC take on the Catalans Dragons. Until then, goodbye!

Shaun Lunt of Huddersfield during the Super League match between Huddersfield Giants and Bradford Bulls at John Smith's Stadium on March 3, 2013
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