HUDDERSFIELD Giants are now two points clear at the top of Super League XVII after rattling up their most significant victory of the season.
A 22-4 home success over in-form second-placed Hull FC is surely further proof that head coach Nathan Brown’s men really could be the real deal.
Hull may have headed to the Galpharm having won their last six top-flight fixtures and with the best defensive record in the competition.
But at the end of a gruelling 80-minute war of attrition they proved no match for a dogged and determined Giants side who created three well-worked tries and, just as significantly, prevented their visitors from crossing their tryline.
In all honesty, it couldn’t have gone that much better as win No9 was safely banked, despite Brown making several changes to the side that had cruised to the 36-10 home triumph over Salford City Reds on Good Friday.
The Galpharm chief sprung a big surprise in his starting line-up by giving back-rower Jon Molloy a first start since featuring in the win at Harlequins 13 months ago, with former centre Michael Lawrence alongside him and opposite an impressive-looking Hull pack.
There was also a start for fit-again prop Keith Mason following minor knee surgery and winger Aaron Murphy, who had also been absent with a similar problem.
Scott, Grix, David Fa’alogo and Joe Wardle were others to return after missing the Salford game, with David Faiumu, Dale Ferguson, Luke George, Lee Gilmour, Shaun Lunt and Luke O’Donnell sitting out the contest after featuring against the City Reds.
And the start to the contest couldn’t have gone much worse as in-form Tommy Lee was forced to leave the field after just two minutes with a knee injury, although Hull were also soon down to 16 men when Martin Aspinwall suffered the same fate after a crunching tackle from Fa’alogo and Mason.
That challenge summed up what was an incredibly ferocious opening period between two incredibly evenly-matched sides keen to justify why they were at the top of the table.
With chances at an absolute premium, with the defence of both teams of the highest order, it was no surprise it was just 2-2 at the break, although the amount of spilt possession wouldn’t have pleased either coach.
Hull drew first blood after nine minutes when Danny Tickle banged over a penalty for a high shot.