Huddersfield Giants put last week’s opening play-off woes behind them to produce some of the dazzling rugby that brought the a first top-of-the-table finish for 81 years.
Everything that went wrong in the 22-8 defeat to Wigan went right against Hull, with Luke Robinson leading the way with four first-half tries as the Giants simple blew their opponents away to lead 54-6 at the interval and guarantee a place in the Qualifying Semi-Final in a week’s time.
Who they’ll be visiting has yet to be decided, with Warrington Wolves having the choice in Sunday’s ClubCall who they would like to host next Thursday.
Wigan have the honour of staging the other tie the following night.
But if the Giants reproduce the quality attacking skills and strong defence that was in displayed against the outclassed and overpowered the Airlie Birds, neither Warrington or Wigan will feel totally at ease at the prospect of facing Giants head coach Paul Anderson’s Super League Leaders Shield winners.
The opening 40 minutes couldn’t have been in starker contrast to a week previously in what was a war of attrition against Wigan.
An interval advantage of 54-6 couldn’t have summed up the proceedings more accurately as the Giants simply ran riot to race in for nine converted tries.
To say it was embarrassingly one-sided would be an understatement, with the shell-shocked visitors having never trailed a game by such a big margin in the club’s history.
Until last night, a 41-0 play-off half-time deficit at Bradford Bulls a decade ago was their worst.
And it could so easily have been ‘nil’ against Hull’s name had it not been for the scoring of one of the flimsiest ever tries as Jamie Shaul touched down after Daniel Holdsworth’s high kick bounced off the top of one of the pads surrounding a post to leave the Huddersfield defenders stranded.
In comparison, many of the Giants’ tries were straight out of the top drawer, albeit at times aided by some woeful Hull defence.
Robinson led the way with an amazing four first-half tries – the second of which brought up 100 for his career – with three coming courtesy of pin-point Danny Brough’s grubber kicks and the other following a thrilling solo dart.
There was also a try from a kick for Aaron Murphy, although on this occasion Brett Ferres was the provider, while long-range efforts were finished off by the impossible-to-handle Leroy Cudjoe, Scott Grix and Shaun Lunt.
And with that Lunt try – after a thrilling Joe Wardle break – Brough added a goal which made it 148 to break the 93-year club record held by the legendary Ben Gronow.
That summed up just how special this dream 40 minutes had been.
Hull started the second half looking far more like a Super League side, with the likes of Brough and Grix having to produce some notable tackles.
But normal service was resumed in the 50th minute when Jason Chan burst through Hull’s centre to create the opening for Cudjoe to score his second try.
After the Giants had been forced to drop-out after failing to deal with the restart, Tom Briscoe crossed in the corner for his side’s second converted score.
Briscoe added his second from a Jacob Miller kick with 13 minutes remaining, but despite the Giants having eased off, Wardle produced another assist to put Lunt over for his second, and Brough significantly landed his 11th try from 11 attempts to set his second club record of the night – notching up 332 points for the season to eclipse the previous best set by Pat Devery in the 1952-53 campaign.
And the 70-point barrier was broken minutes later as Larne Patrick broke clear, Richard Horne patted the ball out of his hand and the alert Ferres was on the spot to score try No12.
Brough failed to land the goal, but made no mistake on Huddersfield’s next attack when Robinson charged to the line and fed Craig Kopczak to score by the posts to set up a Super League play-off record victory to topple Bradford’s previous mark of 71-0.
An amazing night was complete!
Leeds coach Brian McDermott has labelled his side’s first Super League play-off defeat for three years as a “dark day” but is hoping they can lift the gloom with victory over St Helens in tonight’s preliminary semi-final at Headingley. Last Saturday’s 40-20 loss to Warrington was a new experience for McDermott, who guided the Rhinos to consecutive Grand Final triumphs from fifth place in each of his first two seasons at the helm.
Huddersfield Giants await their fate after storming into Super League’s play-off semi-finals: click here to read