SUPER Huddersfield Giants produced a performance that had ‘Wembley return’ written all over it as they turned on the power to destroy Hull KR and progress to the fifth round of the Challenge Cup.
Coach Nathan Brown’s in-form side dominated from start to finish to storm over for seven superb tries against their shell-shocked Super League rivals.
At the heart of their destruction was New Zealand second-rower David Fa’alogo, who is already proving to be one of the signings of the season.
The 29-year-old may not have been in the Giants side beaten 25-16 by Warrington Wolves in last year’s Wembley final.
But given the way Fa’alogo and Co went about their business against the Robins, it would surprise no-one if the former South Sydney star from the Australian NRL was joining his teammates for a trip to the capital in August this year.
Hull KR simply had no real answer to the power and pace of Fa’alogo out on Huddersfield’s right side, and his runs during the highly-competitive opening exchanges clearly had the desired effect of ‘softening’ up the Rovers’ defence.
With Fa’alogo the dominant force in a Giants’ forward pack that was by far the most explosive of the two on show, it wasn’t long before the home side were in complete command.
Huddersfield did come close to opening the scoring twice in the first 10 minutes.
Jamahl Lolesi was denied when Leroy Cudjoe’s tryscoring pass was ruled forward, and then Kevin Brown was adjudged to have been offside after following up a Danny Brough ‘bomb’.
To be fair, Hull KR did come close themselves after 13 minutes when it took an outstanding Luke Robinson tackle to deny Joel Clinton under the posts.
But from that moment on, the first half was all Huddersfield.
Within a minute of that Rovers’ scare, the Giants were crossing for the first of their four tries on the way to opening up a 22-0 interval advantage.
The increasingly-influential Brown started the ball rolling, lofting a high kick to the corner for Cudjoe to pat back to Lolesi to score in the corner.
Brett Hodgson added the touchline conversion – the first of his six successes on the day – and the Giants had a lead they never looked like losing.
Two more attacks almost brought their reward before try No2 came along after 25 minutes.
On the sixth tackle, Huddersfield elected to keep the ball alive and worked the position for Fa’alogo to collect out wide and dummy his marker to glide over.
Then three minutes later the hosts were over again, with Brown working his magic to release David Faiumu with a delicate inside pass, enabling the New Zealander to race away before feeding the supporting Robinson to finish off.
With Hodgson again converting, Hull KR were already facing an uphill battle.
And it got even tougher for the outplayed Robins five minutes before the break as Brown’s wonderful long cut-out pass gave David Hodgson a walk-in at the corner.
Click below for a gallery of action from the game.Related content
Namesake Brett was unable to convert on this occasion, but with a 22-point lead the Giants were already out of sight and Hull KR were suffering a quick exit from the rugby league’s most famous knockout competition.
Even though Rovers did eventually break their duck with a Jake Webster try and Michael Dobson goal after 55 minutes to make it 22-6, it hardly set the alarm bells ringing.
And any hopes the men from Craven Park may have had of closing the gap still further were well and truly dashed 11 minutes later when Brough intercepted a pass on his own 20 and outpaced the cover to sprint over by the posts.
The Giants did then concede a second try in the 68th minute when Brown waited for the ball to run dead from a Scott Murrell grubber and Shaun Briscoe shot through to get the vital touch.
But, fittingly, it was Huddersfield who finished the tie the stronger with two tries in the final six minutes.
From a somewhat fortuitous scrum close to the Robins’ line, the position was created for Fa’alogo to collect the ball from 15m out and charge through several very reluctant markers to crash over.
Then in the closing moments, Martin Aspinwall shot onto Brett Hodgson’s short pass to plunge over the line to complete an excellent day’s work.