WATCH - Wakefield Trinity 17 Huddersfield Giants 16: Danny Brough describes winning drop goal against former team-mates
IT JUST had to be Danny Brough didn’t it?
In a fascinating game that boasted so many remarkable performances, not least fine two-try efforts from Wakefield’s juggernaut prop Dave Fifita and Huddersfield’s impressive young full-back Darnell McIntosh, it seemed obvious it would all come down to one certain man.
Brough, the veteran scrum-half surprisingly allowed to leave Giants in the off-season, did what he always does, holding his nerve to slot a 77th minute drop goal to leave his old colleagues floored and beaten.
The 36-year-old has scored plenty such efforts in his illustrious career but rarely will he have celebrated one as much as this.
Defeat was hard on Huddersfield who, protecting a 10-4 interval lead and without key duo Lee Gaskell and Joe Wardle, had defended their line manfully for much of the second period.
Indeed, they looked capable of producing a third straight win but Chris Chester’s team - despite missing injured Dream Team duo Bill Tupou and Tom Johnstone - turned things around brilliantly.
Fifita was the driving force, the gargantuan Australian prop continually hurting the visitors with his punishing drives.
He thought he had finally got over just after the hour mark but was denied by the diminutive Oliver Russell and pulled back for a double-movement.
His frustrations boiled over and he was penalised for dissent, too, but there was no denying the 29-year-old when he charged through from 30m in the 65th minute and then left McIntosh flummoxed with a brilliant sidestep.
Brough’s conversion levelled but Huddersfield scored just three minutes later with their first genuine attack, Russell’s reverse kick seeing McIntosh pop up and Russell putting them 16-10 ahead.
Still, Trinity would not be cowed and Fifita barged his way over again for Brough to level in the 72nd minute.
It looked like the absorbing West Yorkshire derby would head for Golden Point but luckless Giants youngster Innes Senior spilled near his own line to give the hosts that final chance.
Early on, Wakefield looked the more promising of the two sides, especially when giant forwards Fifita and Pauli Pauli got in full swing, casually skittling defenders as they so often do.
Indeed, they scored the opening try, Brough showing all his wherewithal to run on the last tackle in the 15th minute and create enough space for England centre Reece Lyne to capitalise.
But the Giants responded almost immediately and after receiving a contentious penalty, hooker Kruise Leeming throwing the ball at Jordan Crowther, the Trinity forward who was grounded offside in the ruck.
There was no denying the class of Darnell McIntosh’s long pass, though, to send Jermaine McGillvary in for his 200th career try.
It was also the England winger’s 150th in Super League.
Neither score was converted but Russell did add a penalty to put Giants ahead in the 25th minute.
Ironically, team-mate Michael Lawrence had spilled the ball 25m from Wakefield’s line only for Trinity full-back Ryan Hampshire to kick upfield, presumably thinking the free-play rule - disbanded ahead of this season - was still being used.
Instead, Giants regained possession and Fifita hit Matt Frawley late to concede the simple two points.
Trinity missed chances of their own, Kyle Wood sending an awful pass to Matty Ashurst and - after McGillvary had been bundled into touch - losing it when sending out a pass soon after, although their did seem to be interference from Giants at that point.
McGillvary lost the ball in his next possession but referee Scott Mikalauskas - to the ire of Wakefield players and fans alike - ruled a penalty.
The visitors capitalised, Russell showing deft hands before McIntosh cruised through a gap and sold an outrageous dummy to cross in the 32nd minute.
In defence, McIntosh did well to hunt down Hampshire when he looked to be heading clear but McGillvary then dropped a simple pass with the line begging just before the break. It would prove costly.
Wakefield Trinity: Hampshire; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Arundel, Jowitt; Miller, Brough; Fifita, Wood, Arona, Pauli, Ashurst, Crowther. Substitutes: Horo, Kopczak, Hirst, King.
Huddersfield Giants: McIntosh; McGillvary, Turner, I Senior, Uate; Russell, Frawley; English, Leeming, Matagi, Hewitt, Mellor, Lawrence. Substitutes: O’Brien, Roberts, Ikahihifo, Ta’ai.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas (Leigh)