Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Huddersfield made comfortable progress into the fifth round of this season?s Powergen Challenge Cup with a routine win over National League One outfit Halifax by 40-8.
Their victory at a rain-soaked New Shay follows two straight wins in the engage Super League and adds credence to a growing train of thought that they could make an impact in either competition this season.
The star of the show for Jon Sharp?s men was scrum-half Robbie Paul, a man with more fondness for the competition than most.
Paul was the youngest winner of the Lance Todd trophy in 1996 and lifted the cup twice during his decorated spell with Bradford.
The Kiwi?s imperious performance this afternoon suggests he has rediscovered his hunger for success.
Despite a spirited effort, Halifax were unable to close down the kicking game of both Brad Drew and Paul, whose vibrancy, most notably at the ruck area, proved a key difference.
Anthony Farrell?s men were all too often guilty of relying on stand-off Dean Lawford to kick them out of trouble, although their dogged efforts against higher opposition will offer encouragement ahead of the forthcoming National League season.
After taking an early lead through a Lawford penalty, the home side were spectators for a large part of the first half and trailed 24-2 at the break.
After Andy Kirk went close to opening the try scoring for them, they had to watch as Matt Gardner, Paul and Andy Raleigh with a brace, crossed their line.
First Gardner collected a Michael De Vere pass to slide in at the corner before Raleigh stepped out of a tackle to canter to the line for his first Huddersfield try.
Raleigh brought the curtain down on the first half with another burst to the line, although not before Paul collected a ball against the head from a scrum to jink his way over.
De Vere, handed the kicking duties in the absence of the injured Chris Thorman, landed all four conversions.
The second period almost began in similar fashion but Paul spilled the ball just short of the line after a tremendous flowing move.
Yet Halifax posted a try just moments later when Dominic Brambani pounced on a loose ball to scoot over. Brambani converted to cut the lead to 16 points at 24-8.
Huddersfield probed for further scores to counter any possible comeback, with powerhouse forward Eorl Crabtree posing a serious threat to the home line, although it was Martin
Aspinwall who eventually made the pressure tell, collecting Stephen Wild?s ball to dive over. Crabtree was then denied a deserved try by a forward pass, although he was only thwarted for a matter of minutes as he pounced on Jonny Simpson?s knock-on to crash over from close range.
Wild chimed in with an effort of his own with just minutes remaining with De Vere adding the extras to underline the win.
Halifax: Attwood, Haley, Kirk, Blackwood, M. Barlow, Lawford, Penny, Simpson, Hoyle, Boults, Hirst, Heckenberg, Ball. Replacements: Brambini, Hayes, Sheriffe, Neirinckx.
Huddersfield: Reilly, Aspinwall, Nero, De Vere, Gardner, Evans, Paul, Crabtree, Drew, Jackson, Smith, Jones, Wild. Replacements: Snitch, Donlan, McDonald, Raleigh.
Referee: R Laughton (Barnsley)