HUDDERSFIELD Giants opened 2011 with an 18-10 pre-season victory over Hull KR that produced far more positives than negatives ahead of the start of the Super League XVI campaign.
In the opening quarter when coach Nathan Brown fielded a strong line-up for Eorl Crabtree’s testimonial clash at the Galpharm, they looked far more powerful, sharper and fitter than their opponents.
Even without the likes of Lee Gilmour, Darrell Griffin, Larne Patrick and Andy Raleigh, who all started on the bench, and injured trio Shaun Lunt (hernia), Danny Kirmond (finger) and Luke Robinson (shoulder), the Giants looked like a side that will remain on the up.
An 18-6 lead by the 19th minute – thanks to three well-crafted tries to one Rovers’ breakaway – underlined the obvious superiority of the hosts.
It’s one thing talking about how good things are going in pre-season training, but it’s another turning those words into actions.
Fortunately, the Giants had no problems following that through.
During that highly encouraging opening, Danny Brough, for instance, was able to show everyone exactly how much he is benefiting from a first Giants pre-season.
His kicking game was immense, while his ability to take on the line and his turn of pace was a joy to behold. It was no surprise to anyone he was chosen as the man-of-the-match.
But he certainly wasn’t alone in catching the eye.
Apart from two loose passes inside his own 20 – it’s better to do them now than during the season itself, of course! – Scott Grix has wasted little time showing he could be the natural long-term successor to the departed Brett Hodgson at full-back. His ability to chose just the right moment to join the attack and his general positional sense in defence had ‘Hodgson’ written all over it.
With Grix switching from wing to full-back, Jermaine McGillvary had the chance to prove he could be the man to create the problems wide on the right. He didn’t disappoint.
Time and again he came inside looking for work and was strong as an ox when taking on the big Rovers forwards.
In contrast, the Giants pack looked very comfortable dealing with the attacking threat of their opponents.