Huddersfield Giants v Hull FC Super League match report
THERE was a time not that long ago when the Giants were unable to win a Super League arm wrestle.
They would compete bravely for the opening hour before finally succumbing to the pressure of the opposition.
Huddersfield just didn’t have the skill and – just as importantly – the battle-hardened know-how to come out on top. The players in their arsenal just didn’t have the necessary firepower.
But that’s now in the past, and the Giants’ hard-fought triumph over battling Hull FC couldn’t have underlined that fact more emphatically.
Head coach Paul Anderson’s men had been involved in a similar war of attrition at home to Wigan a month earlier, and just about did enough to hold on.
And now Huddersfield have shown that wasn’t a one-off by backing it up against the Black and Whites, whose defensive resolve was a real credit to coach Peter Gentle and his men.
Fortunately for the hosts, they too were in a mood to tackle, as they were forced to show all their many qualities in defence to grind out what has to be described an ugly win.
The nature of this victory again suggested Huddersfield Giants have all the makings of a ‘champion team’ – not that Hull were bothered about that.
Buoyed by last weekend’s 52-0 rout of Castleford, Hull threatened to inflict a second consecutive home defeat on the leaders when they led 10-6 early in the second half, but the Giants finished the stronger side to claim a sixth win from seven attempts to move three points clear at the top of the Super League XVIII table.
Huddersfield dominated the opening quarter but only had an opportunist try from hooker Shaun Lunt to show for their efforts.
He dummied his way past a sprawling Chris Green for the opening try after 18 minutes and Danny Brough added the conversion to put his side into a 6-0 lead.
Lunt and strong-running centre Leroy Cudjoe were both held up over the line as Hull defended stoutly.
After his superb kicking game that tormented champions Leeds a week earlier, Brough varied his tactics and three times the Giants turned the ball over on the last tackle close to the Hull line.
Eventually, the visitors gained a foothold in the game and stand-off Daniel Holdsworth was able to start applying some pressure on the Huddersfield defence with some attacking kicks.
The home side were indebted to left winger Aaron Murphy, who demonstrated safe hands to take care of most of the high kicks from Holdsworth, and they were grateful for the half-time whistle for some respite.
Hull’s only first-half try came from second-rower Ben Galea, who took Danny Houghton’s short pass on the burst to crash through the Huddersfield defence.
Holdsworth’s conversion attempt rebounded off an upright but Hull thought they had scored again five minutes before half-time when centre Ben Crooks touched down a Holdsworth kick.
Referee Phil Bentham initially disallowed the try for offside before handing over the decision to video official Richard Silverwood, who ruled a knock-on by Crooks.
However, there was no denying Crooks five minutes into the second half when he followed up a grubber kick by full-back Shannon McDonnell to touch down after the bounce of the ball deceived Huddersfield defender Jermaine McGillvary.
Holdsworth’s goal made it 10-6 but the lead was short-lived as Huddersfield finally slipped into gear.
Murphy scored the Giants’ second try, touching down strongly in the corner after collecting centre Joe Wardle’s magnificent tip-on from Brough’s long, looping cut-out pass.
Brough’s touchline conversion edged his side back in front, but Hull stepped up their efforts and it took some resolute defence to keep them out, with Richard Horne and Houghton both coming close to scoring.
Huddersfield extended their lead after 65 minutes when Wardle finished off the best move of the match.
It all started on the halfway line when half-backs Brough and Luke Robinson shifted the play from right to left, for full-back Scott Grix to come into the line.
He immediately flicked the ball on to Wardle who showed great pace to race away before finding the supporting Brett Ferres.
The second-rower immediately returned the favour for Wardle to finish off, although Brough was off target for the conversion.
But the captain made no mistake five minutes later with a 40m penalty to put his side two scores in front.
Hull battled to the end, however, and had a try from England winger Tom Briscoe disallowed for a forward pass before Cudjoe broke free of his markers to send Grix over for a deserved 100th career try.
Brough again goaled to give the final scoreline a look that didn’t reflect the contest.
Huddersfield’s Under 19s secured an excellent 28-14 home Academy triumph over Hull. Full details tomorrow.