Huddersfield Giants 24 Saints 26 Report by Denis Whittle HOPES of a place in Super League's Grand Final at Old Trafford were high for Saints pre-season, but the advice after this sorry display must be - forget it!

They will be lucky to qualify for a top-five spot if there is any repetition of this abysmal form. For what other side in the cut-throat world of modern-day rugby would rocket into an 18-0 lead in 12 minutes then escape by the skin of their teeth?

The answer sadly is Saints. They were yet again guilty of failing to deliver the killer punch and, were grateful to the immaculate boot of Bobbie Goulding.

Huddersfield deserved a better fate, and none tried harder to achieve this than mastermind Phil Veivers who, along with Danny Arnold, Paul Loughlin and Jonathan Neill lacked nothing in motivation in being ex-Saints.

But Saints will take the view that the bottom line is the earning of another two points.

On a more optimistic note live-wire Sean Long was Saints' man-of-the-match by a street; Chris Joynt and Julian O'Neill grafted mightily up front; teenager John Hamilton confirmed his undoubted promise, while one pined for greater opportunity for the flying Anthony Sullivan. Saints opened the scoring within five minutes.

The try came from via a break from Karle Hammond, whose pass sent Long between the uprights for Goulding to convert, then Bobbie chipped through for the stand-off to notch his second six-pointer while, from a defensive angle young Hamilton saved Saints' bacon with a tremendous try-saving tackle on Weston.

Huddersfield, however, kept up the pressure and were camped on the visitors' line when Adrian Belle lost the ball, and the predator Sullivan swooped to race 80 yards to score between the posts and Saints were on their way - or so we thought!

For the resilient Giants then emulated a shell-shocked Saints in scoring three tries in a dozen minutes, with the first coming from Arnold, courtesy of a shrewd pass from Russell, while the Saints then squandered a gilt-edged chance when Paul Atcheson broke away in barnstorming fashion but unaccountably failed to pass to the unmarked Paul Newlove and Sullivan.

Loughlin then raised the siege for the Giants with a strong run, and from the position gained Chris Orr sent Matt Sturm over with Weston adding his second conversion and, with 30 minutes on the clock, Huddersfield inched within an hairsbreadth of Saints when Veivers and Loughlin put Ben Barton in at the corner. Hammond and Long again opened up the home defence only for Goulding to be recalled for a forward pass, and Long then halted the ever-dangerous Dean Hangar otherwise Saints would have turned round in arrears.

As it transpired Huddersfield drew level on 45 minutes when Weston landed a penalty when Sullivan was penalised at the play-the-ball, and the scoreboard then remained undisturbed until the 67th minute when Goulding was obstructed by Hangar and kicked the resultant penalty.

Newlove then claimed a blockbusting touchdown to which Goulding again added the goal and Saints appeared home and dry until Weston's chip-ahead was fumbled by Damien Smith and the Giants' star regathered to score and land the conversion.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.