Wakefield Wildcats’ weekend to forget came to a conclusion with their heaviest Super League defeat of the season as Huddersfield Giants lifted the League Leaders’ Shield with a thumping 40-0 win at the John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday night.
Wildcats, who announced the immediate sale of influential half-back Tim Smith to help with financial problems over the weekend, were never in the contest as on-song Giants inflicted a sixth straight loss on Richard Agar’s men.
Jason Chan opened the scoring inside four minutes and the hosts never looked back. The second-rower doubled his tally in the first half, while Jermaine McGillvary also scored a brace. Former Wildcats Brett Ferres and Aaron Murphy also crossed the whitewash as Wakefield were ‘nilled’ for the first time this season.
Wakefield will just be glad the weekend is over after chairman Michael Carter released a statement on Saturday morning confirming the sale of Smith and revealing the full scale of the club’s financial woes.
It is hard to imagine that news did not impact on the players that took to the pitch and suffered a sixth straight loss - the worst run of defeats under Agar’s control.
Wildcats made four changes to the side that fell to defeat against St Helens in their last outing. Bobbie Goulding made his first Super League start at scrum-half in place of Smith, while Peter Fox replaced Liam Kay on the right wing, Oliver Wilkes stepped in at prop for the injured Kyle Amor and Frankie Mariano returned at second row following a hip injury, replacing Danny Washbrook.
Giants head coach Paul Anderson made just one change to the side that won at London Broncos last time out with Shaun Lunt coming straight back into the starting line-up at hooker. Five former Wakefield players were included in the squad, with Dale Ferguson and Luke George also watching on from the stands.
The home fans were keen for a title-winning party in their final home game of the regular season and Giants responded with the opening try just four minutes in.
Paul Aiton was penalised by referee Tim Roby for a swinging arm on Eorl Crabtree and from the next score Jason Chan scooped up a loose ball from a tackle on the Wakefield line to ease over. Former Wildcat Danny Brough added the extras.
Wildcats showed glimpses of a spirited response but they were made to pay for another error ten minutes later when Fox spilled the ball and handed Giants good position. It eventually resulted in Luke Robinson putting the rampaging Brett Ferres, another former Wakefield man, in for their next try.
There was loose play by both sides in the opening 20 minutes but Huddersfield enjoyed most of the ball, aided by a healthy penalty count in their favour, and made it count in the 25th minute when they grabbed a firm grasp of the game with their third try.
The video referee had denied Craig Kopczak a touchdown but just a minute later Chan forced his way over for his second try of the match and Brough made it three from three with the boot.
Wildcats attacks were few and far between as they looked for a way back into the match. Dean Collis produced a brilliant burst down the right to get the visitors in good position but a fumble from Frankie Mariano on the same set typified Wakefield’s recent efforts. Ben Cockayne also attempted a chip through to the Giants line but the hosts thwarted the winger.
It could have been easy for Wakefield to throw in the towel under plenty of Huddersfield pressure towards the end of the first half but the visitors at least defended stubbornly to keep their slender hopes of getting anything from the game alive at half-time.
But those hopes were all but over as Huddersfield came flying out of the traps in the second half to score minutes after the restart. It was another former Wildcats man in Aaron Murphy who touched down as Giants took advantage of another soft Wakefield error to edge closer to the title.
It was party time for the hosts six minutes later when they added their fifth try of the night. Brough was the architect with a tricky run forward through the centre and when the ball spun out to the right McGillvary was there to edge inside and pull Cockayne over the line with him.
Wakefield continued to show some spirit and got themselves in good position when Aiton forced a Huddersfield drop out but they could not make a rare push forward into dangerous attacking territory count.
As the half wore on it seemed as though both teams would settle for an early blow of the final whistle with the contest turning scrappy. Giants continued to have the lion’s share of the ball but Wakefield held firm at the back. That was until McGillvary got away on the right and took a Leroy Cudjoe pass to double his try tally for the night and rub more salt into the Wakefield wounds.
Chris Annakin went close to getting Wildcats on the scoreboard but he was held up over the line and at the other end Shaun Lunt put the icing on the Huddersfield cake with the final try of the night as the title-winning celebrations started for the hosts.
Giants: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Chan, Lawrence. Subs: Faiumu, Patrick, Ta’ai, Wood.
Wildcats: Mathers, Fox, Collis, Lyne, Cockayne, Smith, Goulding, Poore, Aiton, Wilkes, Kirmond, Mariano, Tautai. Subs: Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Washbrook, Annakin.
Referee: Tim Roby.