Will Pryce kicked a penalty in extra time to earn Huddersfield a dramatic 16-14 victory over Wakefield in their last match of the regular Super League campaign and clinch a third-place finish.
Trinity were on course to end the season with a fifth straight win when second rower Matty Ashurst scored their third try after 66 minutes to give them a 14-12 lead.
But Pryce’s penalty 10 minutes later levelled the scores and, after a flurry of failed drop-goal attempts by both sides, he struck the winning blow in added time to ensure Huddersfield go into the play-offs next Saturday on a winning note.
Bottom of the table after 20 rounds, Willie Poching’s Trinity at least ended the season on a positive note with skipper Jacob Miller and forwards David Fifita, Tinirau Arona and Yusuf Aydin all catching the eye on their final appearances for the club.
Huddersfield coach Ian Watson, whose side will face Salford, Leeds or Castleford at the John Smith’s Stadium next Saturday for a place in the semi-finals, opted to rest forwards Chris Hill, Joe Greenwood and Luke Yates and will look for an improved displays if he is to take his team all the way to Old Trafford.
There was little to choose between the sides throughout and defeat was tough on the visitors, who outscored their hosts by three tries to two.
Pryce showed his danger as early as the third minute, putting prop Nathan Mason through a gap, and from the next play full-back Tui Lolohea got over the line but without being able to ground the ball.
At the other end, Wakefield prop Eddie Battye lost control of the ball as he attempted to go over the line and it was against the run of play that Huddersfield opened the scoring from a scrum near their own line, centre Ricky Leutele offloading from the tackle to lay on a 70-metre try for winger Innes Senior.
Wakefield were quickly level after outgoing prop Aydin was put through a gap by hooker Jordan Crowther to score their opening try, which was converted by Mason Lino.
Pryce then nudged his side back into the lead with a penalty but the visitors struck again five minutes before the break when second rower Kelepi Tanginoa showed a rare turn of pace after being put through by Lino.
That came from a touch of enterprise, with talented winger Lewis Murphy regathering possession from a goal-line drop-out, and illustrated Wakefield’s attacking intent.
HT: Huddersfield 8-10 Wakefield
They were also up for the game defensively, with Miller getting back to prevent Giants winger Ashton Golding scoring a try early in the second half.
Both sides experienced disruption with Leutele forced off seven minutes into the second half and Tanginoa hobbling from the field four minutes later.
Watson also opted to withdraw Lolohea and hooker Danny Levi but they still managed to retake the lead on the hour courtesy of another flying finish from Senior.
This time the lead lasted just six minutes as Ashurst won the race to Miller’s grubber kick to touch down. However, Lino was unable to add the goal and Pryce brought the scores level with a second penalty four minutes from the end of normal time.
In a frantic finale, Pryce and Miller both had drop-goal attempts charged down while Oliver Russell and Fifita were both off target with other kicks as the scores remained level after 80 minutes.
Price then maintained his composure when Wakefield were pulled up for obstruction in the third minute of extra time by kicking his third penalty to clinch victory.