HUDDERSFIELD Giants dug deep to tough out a hard-fought away win at Hull FC to secure their first piece of silverware of the season!
It may have been the Roy Waudby Memorial Trophy, which Hull FC play against a designated Super League opponent on an annual basis.
But what’s to say this won’t be the only time this year captain Kevin Brown will be lifting a trophy in 2011?
It’s true this wasn’t the greatest ever Giants performance, with some loose pieces of attacking play combined with some obvious defensive lapses.
However, for Huddersfield to be far from at full throttle and still have enough to beat a resurgent Hull side at the KC Stadium suggests coach Nathan Brown’s men can definitely look forward rather than back.
And when the Giants are still firmly embedded in second place in the Super League XVI table, there’s no question this side has the ability to put something more substantial than the Roy Waudby Cup in the Galpharm trophy cabinet.
That was clearly one of the reasons why head coach Nathan Brown will be sticking around for another season.
He knows this year and next could be extra special, with the Giants having to overcome several hurdles to get the better of a Hull side who made it a challenging physical battle from start to finish.
Huddersfield were forced to make two changes from the side that beat Catalan in the Challenge Cup the week before.
With Eorl Crabtree and Dale Ferguson (both back strains) ruled out through injury, fit-again duo David Fa’alogo and Andy Raleigh were able to return to the scene.
Fa’alogo, in particular, has had a wretched couple of months, with his hamstring woes from last season having made an unwelcome return.
But there was enough during his opening stint off the bench to suggest he could put those behind him with a strong contribution.
By the time he entered the fray midway through the first period, there had already been plenty of explosive midfield action, with both packs making their intentions clear.
Within two minutes in-form Giants prop Darrell Griffin was held just short, while Hull front-rower Mark O’Meley lost the ball over the line under heavy defensive pressure on the hosts’ first attack.
But minutes later the visitors had made the most of that scare as they took the lead.
Danny Brough’s fantastic high kick to the corner was gathered by David Hodgson, who immediately fed the ball to Michael Lawrence to plunge over in the corner.
Brough was unable to convert, but the early Huddersfield signs were looking promising.
By the 15-minute mark, however, the mood wasn’t quite so upbeat.
After Scott Grix had spilled a high Hull ball, the home side took full advantage from the scrum as the position was created for Ewan Dowes to crash over for his first try in three years!
Danny Tickle goaled and the black and whites had the lead.
Yet such was the see-saw nature of an at times absorbing encounter, it was no great surprise when the Giants regained the lead after 26 minutes.
Having forced Hull to drop out from under their own posts, Huddersfield worked their way to the line in five tackles.
And with the hosts waiting for a kick on the last, the ball was swept to the left for Hodgson to collect Kevin Brown’s long, looping pass and touch down in the corner.
This time Brough added the extras and the Giants lead was back up to four.
Despite applying more pressure on the Hull line, the men from West Yorkshire didn’t have enough composure to build on their lead, and on the stroke of half-time Tickle landed a penalty to make it 10-8 with everything to play for.
But Huddersfield’s start to the second half couldn’t have been any better.
After a strong opening set, they made the most of their second on the back of some superb approach play.
With Hull on the back foot deep inside their own territory, the ball was worked quickly to the left for Hodgson to collect Brough’s pass and show great finishing powers to get the ball down in the corner, with the video referee giving the winger the nod. Brough added a second excellent touchline conversion and the lead was up to eight points.
The sight of Grix being stretchered off after being caught high by a rugged Kirk Yeaman challenge in the 54th minute could have knocked his teammates out of their stride.
Fortunately, however, it didn’t affect them and they continued to boss the encounter.
Larne Patrick was held up over the line following up a Brough grubber and after two more neat kicks from the scrum half forced Hull to drop out on both occasions, Brough landed a penalty to make it 18-8.
At that stage, the Giants looked to be taking control.
But the Airlie Birds had other ideas.
After forcing Huddersfield to drop out from under their posts, the Giants conceded two cheap penalties and Mark O’Meley was on hand to crash over for another converted score.
Again it looked as if the tide could turn, but not in a game like this.
Within three minutes, the Giants had struck back again as the inspirational Brough sent another long pass out to Hodgson who skipped past Will Sharp before finishing excellently just inside the corner flag.
Brough failed to land the goal and the lead stood at eight points.
Willie Manu’s powerful effort through some questionable defence and Tickle’s goal with 11 minutes remaining suggested the most nerve-wracking of finishes was on the cards.
But the Giants made sure that never happened.
Two minutes later, Brough scooped up a loose ball on the Hull 40 and beat the cover to dive in at the corner. Brough then landed another excellent and vital touchline goal.
That seemed to knock the stuffing out of Hull and with four minutes remaining Huddersfield banged the final nail in their coffin when David Faiumu’s grubber kick was collected and touched down by Lee Gilmour.
Brough converted and the latest impressive Huddersfield win was secured.