So far, so good. As February comes to a close, the Giants find themselves the only unbeaten side in Super League, positioned nicely at the top of the table, despite playing one fewer game than their closest competitors. Three away victories give the Huddersfield their best start to the season since the famous 2013 campaign, and while trophies aren't handed out in the first few weeks, it's hard to argue that things are certainly looking good for the club in the early stages.
At the very least, it's a significant improvement over the past few years. Last year it took us 8 games to get three wins. The year before it took 14 games - half the season. To get the first three wins sorted this early is not only a sign that the 2020 Giants are a stronger outfit than we've seen since in recent years, but it changes the team mentality going forwards. We're no longer playing catch-up, praying other results allow us out of the relegation zone. We're laying down a marker and trying to keep ourselves close to that top spot. The affect that has on the players cannot be underestimated, and really underlines all the talk we heard in the preseason, about our attitudinal changes and commitment to the coaching philosophies.
We'll be analysing the squad in another article this week, but for now let's look at the games so far.
Despite a strong pre-season, an excellent set of signings and some smart behind-the-scenes changes, nobody gave us a chance going into this game. Several established names were backing us to finish bottom, with Catalans expected to be making the play-offs. Unfortunately, nobody told Simon Woolford's side. Aidan Sezer got his debut try in round 1, setting up two more and kicking six goals in a man of the match performance. Our wingers (McGillvary and Louis Senior) got a combined 263 metres, 8 tackle busts and 7 clean breaks. But this wasn't, as some have since tried to claim, an easy victory against a poor side. Perpignan is the hardest away day in the game, and the Dragons' only other fixture this year saw them annihilate Castleford 36-18. It was our best performance of the three, in my opinion, and will hopefully set the tone nicely for the season ahead
When your worst result of the season so far is a win away at last season's Grand Finalists, you know something has gone right. But the Fartown faithful were made to sweat for it. While on balance it's hard to argue we were the better side, we failed to convert a solid first half into a convincing lead, going in just two points up at half time. With the scores eventually tied in the dying minutes, we were somewhat fortunate in that Salford lost that game just as much as we won it. An abysmal drop goal attempt from the home side, was followed by two key failures of discipline. First, Kevin Brown got himself sinbinned for a nasty headbutt on Jordan Turner. Not long after, Lee Mossop dragged Gavet to the floor right in front of the sticks, allowing us to take the winning two points. A last-minute effort from Ken Sio may have struck some fear into the Giants fans, but Darnell pounced on a loose ball and it was two wins for the Claret and Gold.
The definition of winning ugly. Watching this game back on Giants TV, I couldn't take my eyes off the passing, anything further than a few feet and the wind took control of the ball, sending it up the line at a ridiculous speed. It's not surprising that this game had the most errors of our three opening games, with the teams making a combined 25 (compared to 19 and 15 the previous weeks). We lost Darnell early on, moving Louis to fullback and Wood to the wing, and at one point we were down to a one-man bench, with Gavet and O'Brien also going off with injuries. But despite this, we never really looked like losing. Hull KR seemed to be lost in attack, with a late consolation try doing very little to raise their spirits. We did what we needed to in those conditions, we kept to the basics, ran hard and tried to force errors.
With five games in March - Wigan, Saints, Hull and Toronto in the league, plus Toronto again in the cup - keeping up our undefeated streak will be a little trickier. But if we keep up the form we've seen in February, and even take home three or four wins, the excuses will die down, and people will have to stand up and take notice that the Giants are back to their best.