OH, what a night!
Huddersfield Giants made a triumphant return to the Galpharm Stadium after a two-month absence to get there Super League campaign firmly back on track.
But there was obviously far more to the Giants’ night in the sun than this.
With coach Nathan Brown’s men producing an eight-try blitz to beat the Robins, Giants chairman Ken Davy couldn’t have chosen a better time to announce the club’s almost unbelievable season-ticket offers for 2012.
Incredible £50 deals for the whole of the Super League XVII campaign had the fans purring with delight when the proud Giants owner unveiled the details at half-time.
And his players then put the icing on the cake by rattling up a big top-flight win on the luscious new Galpharm turf to send the claret and gold faithful home in the most upbeat of moods.
There were times during the contest when it looked that things might not be going according to plan, with the stubborn Rovers putting up brave resistance throughout.
But in the end, the Giants romped away to a victory that was even sweeter given the make-up of the side on show.
A total of seven established front-line stars were ruled out in the build up to the game in Kevin Brown, David Fa’alogo, Shaun Lunt, Keith Mason, Luke O'Donnell, Jamie Simpson and Joe Wardle.
Then during the final run-through the day before, Dale Ferguson (back spasm) and Michael Lawrence (ankle) also bit the dust to leave the Giants down to the bare bones.
Yet that didn’t seem to matter at all.
While the senior players led by example, the Giants youngsters manfully rose to the occasion.
Jacob Fairbank marked his Super League debut with an assured performance in the loose-forward role, Kyle Wood put in another great stint off the bench and young prop Adam Walker took the ball up strongly during a rock-solid final 10-minute spell.
In fact, all four of the Giants substitutes proved their weight in gold, with Larne Patrick back to his explosive best and Andy Raleigh making the most of a rare recent appearance to stake a very serious claim for a more regular run-out.
Having said that, when the Giants travel to St Helens for their next game on Friday week, all 17 who faced Rovers could feel a little aggrieved if they don’t hold onto their spots.
That’s because every single Giants player contributed 100% to the cause.
Defensively, it was far from perfect, but on attack there were so many positives, with great approach work paving the way for four first-half scores and a further four after the interval.
After conceding an early try to Scott Taylor, converted by Michael Dobson, and then being forced to drop out in the 11th minute, the Giants began to settle to the task.
By the 16th minute they had drawn level when Luke Robinson kicked high to the corner on the sixth tackle for Leroy Cudjoe to out-jump his marker and touch down.
Scott Grix converted and added a second three minutes later.
That came after a Danny Brough ‘bomb’ had been fumbled by the Hull KR defence and from the subsequent scrum David Faiumu shot over from dummy half close to the line after a strong Danny Kirmond charge.
Yet such was the nature of the opening exchanges that it was no great surprise when the visitors drew level as Josh Hodgson took full advantage of a Clint Newton break to score under the posts.
Dobson goaled and then slotted over a penalty to give the Robins a two-point lead in the 26th minute, and the Giants were up against it once again.
Fortunately, however, Huddersfield had more than enough in reserve to finish the half strongly.
After Patrick had been denied a try by video referee Richard Silverwood, the Mirfield official gave the home side the green light four minutes before the break when fellow bench-man Raleigh’s strong charge to the line forced the ball to be ripped out and the alert Grix was on hand to take full advantage and ground the loose ball.
Grix converted but two minutes later his involvement appeared to have come to the end when he was forced to leave the field holding his right arm clearly in some discomfort.
But that failed to prevent the Giants finishing the half on a high as Brough’s high kick was allowed to bounce by the Rovers’ defence and Graeme Horne took full advantage to tip the ball out of a defender’s grasp, re-gather and cross with ease.
New goalkicker Cudjoe made no mistake adding the extras and the hosts had a 10-point advantage.
That was reduced within two minutes of the re-start when the ball was kept alive on the sixth tackle for Ben Fisher to cross for his side’s third converted score, and it was game on once again.
Former Hull FC man Horne, who was relishing a run-out back in the centres, then proved why he had been such an effective three-quarter earlier in his career when he showed great footwork and strength to split the Rovers’ defence 40m out and then charge over the unfortunate Louis Sheriff to touch down in the corner.
Although Cudjoe landed an excellent touchline conversion, the men from the east coast refused to wave the white flag as Jake Webster raced in from halfway to keep the contest very much alive.
But in the final quarter the Giants were able to find another gear and finished the contest exceptionally strongly.
Sheriff had another nightmare moment as he knocked on close to the line and Kirmond capitalised from the subsequent scrum to dive over, and that was to signal the beginning of the end of the visitors’ challenge.
By the 65th minute the Giants had extended their lead with the try of the game as Wood released Jermaine McGillvary to race clear from inside his own half and kick ahead for the returning Grix to follow up to score a move which he had initially started.
Grix then added his own conversion and banged over his fifth of the game after Faiumu’s short pass sent Eorl Crabtree crashing over from close range.
Hull KR’s evening was summed up when Newton was sin-binned for dissent in the wake of the score, although they did escape the indignity of suffering a second successive 50-point defeat when McGillvary had an effort ruled out by the video referee for an illegal challenge on Peter Fox.