IN-FORM Huddersfield Giants powered back to the top of the Super League XVI table by destroying Bradford Bulls.
Until the last few seasons the men in claret and gold were being completely out-muscled and out-played by the Bulls. They were simply no match for one of the game’s modern super powers.
But not any more!
It’s now the Giants who are the bullies, producing the power and pace that Bradford are simply unable to match.
When the sides met at Odsal last June, Huddersfield powered to a 52-6 win.
And now the Giants have rattled up a second successive half-century of points to secure the easiest of victories.
An opening blitz made it all possible, with the home side crossing four times in the opening 15 minutes to race into an unassailable 18-0 lead.
That advantage had been stretched to 30-6 at the break before they took their foot off the gas in the closing stages to allow the Bulls to score two late tries for a final scoreline of 50-16 which, in truth, hardly reflected the dominance of the Giants.
Besides the nine tries Huddersfield did score, the Giants ‘bombed’ at least three others in the second period and also had no trouble whatsoever dealing with the 48th-minute sin-binning of Luke O’Donnell for interference.
In fact, Nathan Brown’s men were still the better team when they were reduced to 12 men, such was their superiority on the day.
Yet what was also so satisfying about this big win was it was achieved with a whole host of ‘stars’ sitting in the stands.
With new recruits Dale Ferguson and Jamie Simpson making their presence felt and youngster Jamie Cording making a highly effective late cameo role on full debut, the strength in depth of the Giants’ Class of 2011 is something else that’s shining through.
The likes of Lee Gilmour, Darrell Griffin, David Hodgson, Danny Kirmond and Andy Raleigh were all forced to cheer from the sidelines, while the noises coming out of the Galpharm suggest it won’t be too long before England Four Nations hero Luke Robinson is closing in on a return.
It’s now thought to be weeks rather than months before the hooker or half-back is back to full fitness after major shoulder and elbow surgery.
But with the way things have been going without him, maybe that return will be later rather than sooner!
His teammates certainly didn’t appear to miss him during this latest Super League stroll.
Within a second it was clear this might not be the Bulls’ day as they were forced to drop-out from the kick-off.
From the subsequent set, the ball was taken upfield for the inspirational Kevin Brown to put Leroy Cudjoe through a hole and pass on to Jermaine McGillvary to do the rest.
Danny Brough failed to add the conversion, just as he did for his next two attempts in minutes six and 10.
Try No2 was again created by Brown, who sent Cudjoe through a gap, although this time the centre went over himself and through Brett Kearney’s attempted tackle.
Then with the third try, Brough kicked to the corner delightfully on the sixth tackle for McGillvary to collect and then dab the ball forward for David Fa’alogo to collect and charge over.
Fa’alogo, Scott Grix and Cudjoe almost added the fourth with great link-up play after 12 minutes.
But three minutes later, there was no denying Grix when he collected 10m from the line and showed tremendous strength and footwork to burst through numerous attempted tackles to cross.
Bradford did manage a try of their own on their first concerted attack midway through the half when Shaun Ainscough crossed and Patrick Ah Van converted.
But it was brief respite for the Bulls as the Giants added two more tries before the break.
In the 26th minute Fa’alogo’s short pass sent Larne Patrick charging unopposed through a huge gap and then Graeme Horne collected a Brough grubber to stroll over and complete a one-sided half.
Michael Lawrence failed to hold Brough’s tryscoring pass at the start of the second.
But it only took until the 44th minute for the hosts to extend their lead when Grix’s long pass sent McGillvary over in the corner.
The yellow card for O’Donnell for attempting to slow down a Bulls’ 20m tap may have given Bradford a lift.
But it failed to stem the tide, with a Brough penalty and then a Simpson try ruled out for a forward pass the only noteworthy moments.
And within minutes of O’Donnell’s return, the Giants were over again when Ferguson plunged over for a debut try.
Brown so nearly grounded a Brough grubber kick in the 66th minute, but on their next attack Huddersfield grabbed their final try when Brown kept the ball alive superbly on the last tackle to combine with Shaun Lunt and hand Horne his second of the game.
Bradford did score two late tries through Marc Herbert and Gareth Raynor, both off Herbert grubbers.
But this day still belonged to the top-of-the-table Giants!