A disallowed Lee Smith try in the final minute thwarted Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ hopes of ending Huddersfield Giants’ unbeaten start to the Super League season.
Paul Anderson’s Giants left the Rapid Solicitors Stadium with a slender 18-16 victory to stay top of the table, thanks to a hat-trick of tries from winger Jermaine McGillvary, but the talking point was referee Richard Silverwood’s decision to chalk off Smith’s late effort for a forward pass.
The former Leeds Rhinos centre, returning from a thumb injury to feature in his first game this season, took a Tim Smith pass to dive over the whitewash and spark wild scenes of celebrations amongst Wakefield fans, only for those cheers to turn to boos when the final hooter went seconds later with the two points returning to Huddersfield.
A late winning try would have completed a fine fightback for Richard Agar’s men, who trailed throughout and were 18-8 down at half-time.
The only change for the hosts from victory at London was the return of Lee Smith from a thumb injury, replacing Reece Lyne, who missed out with a pectoral injury.
On-song Giants started the match in blistering fashion with a jittery Wildcats side allowing in-form McGillvary in for two tries inside the first eight minutes.
Wakefield responded four minutes later when superb work from Ali Lauitiiti saw the second row offload to Richie Mathers, who drew in opposite Giants number Scott Grix and passed for Peter Fox to cross the line.
Sykes did something Brough could not do with his first two attempts and convert the try to bring the hosts to within two points of their visitors.
Things became heated 15 minutes in when Poore’s big hit on McGillvary forced a scuffle involving players from both sides, but the Australian prop avoided a sin-binning.
Both sides enjoyed prolonged spells of pressure but defences were on top for the most part, with penalties breaking up the flow of the game and allowing each team the chance to kick to extend their score.
Sykes got Wakefield level when he took the two points from a penalty just after the half-hour mark, before Brough did the same for Giants, twice kicking over the sticks.
The visitors took the advantage into half-time but it could have been different had Lee Smith touched down right on the hooter. Richie Mathers kicked through and Smith looked set to touch down only for former Wildcat Aaron Murphy to produce a superb tackle to see the centre spill the ball in the challenge.
The first try of the second half was always going to be crucial and it was Huddersfield who grabbed it five minutes in.
David Faiumu was the architect, weaving his way through challenges to get his side in good position before Luke Robinson provided the killer ball for McGillvary to grab his hat-trick.
Wakefield did not throw in the towel, however, and after a superb break by Dean Collis got the hosts in a dangerous position, Ben Cockane’s kick found Lee Smith, who touched down to make it ‘game on’.
Wildcats were lifted and eight minutes later they set-up a grandstand finish when Tim Smith’s bullet-pass found Cockayne in the corner for his sixth try of the season.
Sykes could not convert the tough touchline kick and Wakefield trailed by two points going into the closing stages.
Agar’s men thought they had won it in the last minute when Lee Smith touched down but the officials pointed to a forward pass and Giants maintained their 100 per cent winning start to the season.
Wildcats: Mathers, Fox, Collis, L Smith, Cockayne, Sykes, T Smith, Poore, Aiton, Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook. Subs: Wilkes, Wood, Amor, Annakin.
Giants: Grix, Murphy, Cudjoe, Wardle, McGillvary, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Fielden, Ferres, Chan, Fairbank. Subs: Faiumu, Patrick, Cording, Mullally.
Referee: Richard Silverwood.