Man of Steel favourite Danny Brough was in record-breaking form as Huddersfield Giants routed sorry-looking Hull FC to move to within 80 minutes of a maiden Grand Final.
The Giants ran in 13 tries, nine of them in the first half of their preliminary semi-final at the John Smith’s Stadium to bounce back in sensational style from their opening 22-8 play-off defeat by Wigan.
It was a performance that will give Warrington plenty to ponder as they prepare for Sunday’s ClubCall when they must either pick the Giants or the winners of the second preliminary semi-final between Leeds and St Helens as their last-four opponents.
Huddersfield went into the game with just two wins from their previous 10 play-off ties but demonstrated their new-found resolve to produce a comprehensive display.
It was certainly sweet revenge for their 46-10 play-off defeat at the KC Stadium 12 months ago as Hull were condemned to the worst opening 40 minutes in the club’s 148-year history.
They trailed 54-6 at the break, eclipsing the 41-0 half-time deficit from their 71-0 play-off defeat at Bradford in 2005, although they managed to restore a little pride with a vastly-improved second-half display.
Huddersfield scrum-half Luke Robinson scored four tries, all of them in the first half, while Brough succeeded with 12 of his 13 conversion attempts to smash two long-standing club records.
He broke Ben Gronow’s record of 147 goals, set in the 1919-1920 season, and overtook the 332 points scored by Pat Devery in 1952-1953.
Hull suffered a blow with the late withdrawal of utility man Richard Whiting with a calf injury and little went right for them all night.
It was an unfortunate way for Hull centre Kirk Yeaman to mark his 300th appearance while Tom Briscoe, Andy Lynch and Danny Tickle bowed out of the club on a dismal note.
It was all one-way traffic from the moment hooker Shaun Lunt, on his 100th appearance, broke clear on halfway inside the first set of tackles to set up the position for England centre Leroy Cudjoe to stride majestically over for the first try.
Robinson got on the end of a trademark Brough stabbed kick for his first try and full-back Scott Grix got the first of his two after centre Joe Wardle scooped up a stray pass from Tickle 10 metres from his own line.
As Hull struggled to get a foothold in the game, Robinson dummied his way over from 20 metres out for his 100th career try on 12 minutes, left winger Aaron Murphy produced a clinical finish for his 20th try of the season after second rower Brett Ferres kicked ahead on a free play and another Cudjoe break gifted Grix his second.
With Brough kicking immaculately, the Giants led 36-6 after 21 minutes before Hull interrupted their flow with a try from full-back Jamie Shaul, scored in fortuitous fashion after Daniel Holdsworth’s towering kick landed on top of the post padding.
Tickle added the goal but normal service was quickly resumed, with Robinson following up Brough’s delicate kick to complete his hat-trick on 32 minutes.
There was no respite for the visitors as Wardle’s break from deep got Lunt over for his 22nd try of the season and Robinson profited from another Brough kick to score his fourth on the stroke of half-time.
Trailing 54-6, Hull rediscovered their spirit after the break, although they lost Shaul with a leg injury five minutes into the second half and fell further behind when Huddersfield second rower Jason Chan refused to be tackled and set up the position for Cudjoe to score his second try.
Brough’s 10th goal took him level with Devery’s points record and edged in front when he converted Lunt’s second try on 71 minutes.
Briscoe grabbed a couple of consolation tries on his farewell appearance, taking his total to 90 for the club, and Tickle added both goals.
However, Huddersfield got their second wind and forwards Brett Ferres and Craig Kopczak added further tries in the last six minutes, with Brough taking his goal tally to 12.