The Merseyside outfit fell victim to a shock semi-final defeat at the hands of Huddersfield two weeks ago, and even with next Saturday’s Challenge Cup final looming, St Helens only just edged out winners here.
Huddersfield clearly had eyes on next Saturday’s Wembley Cup final with their team selection, but the visitors stunned the hosts within the first two minutes. A clever try from 22-year-old stand-off Shaun Lunt was converted by Leroy Cudjoe to open up an early 6-0 lead.
Seven minutes later, Cudjoe was again on the scoreboard, this time grabbing a superb try of his own in the corner under the attentions of Saints tacklers. He latched well onto a brilliant flick pass from reserve full-back Elliott Hodgson, before his conversion attempt collided with the post to leave the score at 10-0.
Midway through the first half, utility back Danny Kirmond turned awkwardly on his knee and, after several minutes of stoppages, had to be stretchered off the pitch. Within a minute of Kirmond’s departure, wingman Ade Gardner had connected with a Sean Long chip to pull it back to 10-4.
The half ended with the pathetic sound of the home crowd booing, when really their team had endured a fairly intense battle with a group of youngsters keen to prove themselves on the big stage.
Six minutes after after restart, winger Matt Gidley rounded two Huddersfield tacklers to slide over in the corner, before Jo Lomax’s second conversion attempt hit the post almost identically to Cudjoe’s first half conversion effort.
The score remained at 10-8 to the visitors, with the young Giants side absorbing several consecutive goal-line drop-outs, and it took the home side 64 minutes to nudge ahead for the first time.
Francis Meli crashed over in the corner after neat lateral passing, narrowly avoiding touch with his trailing ankle, before Lomax missed his third conversion. The home side a narrow 12-10 advantage.
Huddersfield looked tired in the dying embers, but will take pride into the Cup final next weekend with this spirited defeat.
St Helens – 12
T: Gardner (20); Gildey (47); Meli (64)
Huddersfield – 10
T: Lunt (2); Cudjoe (9)
G: Cudjoe (2)
Ref: I Smith