Superb Huddersfield thrashed Hull as they recorded their fourth successive Magic Weekend victory, 55-2 at Anfield.
It was a break out performance by Simon Woolford’s young team, who were led around the park masterfully by Adam O’Brien, Lee Gaskell and Oliver Russell against a sorry Hull outfit.
O’Brien got two tries his performance thoroughly deserved, as did full-back Darnell McIntosh, as the Giants ran in 10 tries.
Playing in a kit not too dissimilar to the football team that graces this pitch usually, Huddersfield took the lead in the eighth minute, Oliver Russell dabbing a kick through that bounced awkwardly for Jamie Shaul, who slipped and was helpless as Joe Wardle touched down in-goal.
Hull nearly responded straight away, Darnell McIntosh sloppily allowing Marc Sneyd’s kick-off to go out off his foot, and Sneyd’s kick to the corner was then parried out by Jermaine McGillvary in a way that was more goalkeeper than international wingman.
A Sneyd 40/20 set the platform for Hull to go close on 15 minutes, Albert Kelly just losing control of the ball as he stretched out for the line early in the tackle count.
At the other end, McGillvary slid a kick in-goal to force a drop-out and the Giants made the most of the repeat set with their second try, and a well worked one too.
A crashing hit-up off the drop out from Suaia Matagi set the platform, and a few tackles later Russell passed the ball out wide to Innes Senior tight to the touchline, he backed himself for the line and when the covering defence got to him, he hooked out an offload for Jake Wardle to touch down.
Hull were struggling to make in-roads down the middle and continually looked to break the Huddersfield left defence with high Sneyd kicks on the last tackle.
Two of those forced repeat sets, but then a high tackle by Mark Minichiello on Lee Gaskell piggybacked Huddersfield in to the Hull 20 metres and they didn’t need a second invitation.
Matagi took it close and then from dummy half, the excellent O’Brien bounced off a defender and spun from close range to touch down under the posts for 16-0.
Hull were shell-shocked and when Joe Westerman knocked on 30 metres from the line, they were almost punished by a Giants counter attack led by O’Brien that took them up the other end.
Russell’s kick was knocked on by winger Ratu Naulago, and a few plays later, McIntosh crashed over the line.
Huddersfield were rampant and Gaskell nearly got on the end of his own kick, forcing a drop out, that would then lead to Russell knocking over a drop goal.
A penalty on the hooter did at least enable Hull to avoid a scoreless half, Sneyd kicking from wide out for 21-2 at the interval and they had work to do.
But Huddersfield wouldn’t give them an inch, and they squeezed the life out of the black and whites with a dominant start to the second period, which resulted in their fourth try of the afternoon, O’Brien diving through a huge gap in the goal-line defence after Sneyd had spilled Gaskell’s kick.
McIntosh added his second try on 53 minutes, taking a short ball from Gaskell and bouncing through a couple of tacklers, and then Alex Mellor got in on the act, managing to get the ball down under the attention of two defenders, verified by the video referee, Russell converting for 39-2.
The pain wasn’t over for Hull, now defending the Kop end where all their fans were situated, Aaron Murphy breaking down the right hand side and putting McGillvary past the full-back to slide over in the wet.
The final hooter couldn’t come quick enough for Lee Radford’s men, but it wasn’t over yet, McGillvary returning the favour for Murphy to score in the right corner, Russell sparing Hull’s blushes by missing the touchline conversion that would have brought up the half century.
Even when Sika Manu burst through with six minutes to go, Huddersfield wouldn’t give in, Wardle scrambling back to haul him down metres from the line on the last tackle to keep Hull scoreless in the second half.
The half century did eventually come and it was a sharp long pass by Gaskell that enabled the simplest of walk-ins for McGillvary.
Three talking points
Jekyll and Hyde Hull
A week on from their excellent away win at Warrington, it was typical Hull as they crumbled to the Giants with a spineless first half performance that will have had Lee Radford trying to figure out how he could hack the Huddersfield Twitter account at half time to fire up his players. There’s no shortage of talent in the Hull team, despite their injuries, but until they can cut their inconsistency, they will struggle to compete at the top end of Super League.
Huddersfield’s young guns
The era of Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe and Michael Lawrence, amongst others, brought about great success for the Giants, and while those three have remained, it has been a tricky few years for Huddersfield as they try and return to the top half. But in the likes of Darnell McIntosh, Oliver Russell and Matthew English, the Giants have an exciting young team building and if Simon Woolford can recruit well around them, then they could well be challenging for silverware again as they were four or five years ago.
Leading from the front
The damage was done in the first half by an accomplished Huddersfield performance, with hooker Adam O’Brien leading them around the pack masterfully as Hull struggled without their regular rake Danny Houghton. But it was power forwards Suaia Matagi and Ukuma Ta’ai who set the tone with some fearsome hit-ups that got them on the front foot and Hull had no answer.
Line-ups and ratings
Hull: Shaul (5), Buchanan (6), Griffin (5), Connor (5), Naulago (4), Kelly (6), Sneyd (6), Taylor (5), Washbrook (5), Paea (5), Hadley (6), Minichiello (5), Westerman (4). Subs: Bowden (6), Green (6), Manu (6), Fash (6).
Huddersfield: McIntosh (9), McGillvary (8), Turner (6), Jacob Wardle (7), Senior (7), Gaskell (8), Russell (8), English (7), O’Brien (9), Matagi (8), Joe Wardle (7), Mellor (7), Murphy (7). Subs: Leeming, Clough (6), Lawrence (6), Ta’ai (7).
Tries: Joe Wardle, Jacob Wardle, O’Brien 2, McIntosh 2, Mellor, McGillvary 2, Murphy. Goals: Russell 7. Drop goal: Russell.
Huddersfield’s success at Magic Weekend is quite remarkable, and it’s not as if they’re given an easy ride by the fixture planners each year either.
This is their 9th win in 13 Magic Weekends, which puts them top of the league table at the annual event, albeit before Wigan’s game against Warrington.
Coach Simon Woolford may well see this display as a benchmark for his young side, who managed the game excellently.
While Hull will get criticism for their performance – they basically threw the towel in after half an hour – that shouldn’t detract from a solid display by the Giants, who in Darnell McIntosh, Oliver Russell and Adam O’Brien, could have a dynamic playmaking trio for years to come.