Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Official English Super League Round 21 Report - Saturday game. Full time: Hull 34 Huddersfield 24.
Hull coach John Kear was delighted with the way his side held on to beat Huddersfield 34-24 on Saturday night after playing most of the second half with 12 men. With both sides missing key players through a mixture of injury and suspension the story unfolded into an enthralling contest, with several intriguing sub plots, the most glamorous of which was the battle between playmakers Richard Horne and Chris Thorman.
The pair are likely half-back rivals for a spot in the Great Britain side at the end of the year and both produced imperious performances. Horne celebrated his birthday by producing a performance coated in menace and guile whilst Thorman was involved in everything Huddersfield created, leaving little to choose between the two.
Hull welcomed Richard Swain back from a 15-week absence due to a broken arm, but three-quarters Shaun Briscoe and Nathan Blacklock missed out with knee injuries. Huddersfield were without full-back Paul Reilly, serving the first of a three-game suspension, whilst coach Jon Sharp handed a debut to on-loan London winger Lee Greenwood.
In the opening period, Huddersfield overturned a 12 point deficit to take an interval lead, but not before Richie Barnett had staked his claim as being one of the league?s most potent finishers. His brace took his tally to seven in five games since Gareth Raynor was injured and served notice to coach John Kear that he is worthy of a regular starting berth.
Paul Cooke was involved in both tries, first allowing Chris Chester to send Barnett free in the left corner and then feeding the former Gateshead man himself, again down the left. Cooke converted both but Hull?s discipline was costing them and they were heavily punished by referee Richard Silverwood.
On the back of a penalty the Giants made their way downfield and soon opened their account, Thorman?s superb pass close to the posts allowing Paul Smith to steam in and cross, before the former?s goal halved the deficit. Then, Motu Tony was sin-binned as a result of persistent infringement and Thorman picked up another two points courtesy of the penalty.
Tellingly, the Giants failed to score in Tony?s absence, but managed to steal the lead just as he returned to the field. James Evans broke free of the Hull line and his offload fed Greenwood. Despite having options in support, Greenwood backed himself and just crossed, which allowed Thorman to kick his side into a two-point half-time lead.
Clearly rattled by Kear?s words at half-time, the Black and Whites were quick to move back into the lead just two minutes into the second half. They made their way downfield on the back of a penalty award, and from the subsequent set of six, Paul King?s short ball allowed Horne to nip into a gap and jink his way past Marcus St Hilaire to the line. Cooke?s goal reopened a four-point lead.
The Giants then stole back in front, Chris Nero taking advantage of Tony?s error before Hull eventually pulled away, thanks in no small part to Kirk Yeaman?s brace. Cooke was involved on both occasions, feeding the centre who twice forced his way over the line, the second after consideration from the video referee. His tries sandwiched an effort from Richard Whiting, who collected Stephen Kearney?s offload to cross.
Cooke converted two of the three but none of his contributions matched his involvement in the game?s flash point which led to his dismissal. Trying to break a tackle from Brad Drew, the stand-off appeared to headbutt the hooker and, despite Drew?s retaliation which led to a brawl, Silverwood had no hesitation in handing Cooke a 67th-minute red card.
With over 10 minutes remaining Huddersfield rallied in an attempt to make the most of their numerical advantage, but they only made one further impression on the scoreboard - substitute Eorl Crabtree crashing over in the corner just minutes after his forward pass prevented Stuart Donlan from scoring himself.
Hull (12) 34. Tries: Barnett 2, R. Horne, Yeaman 2, Whiting. Goals: Cooke 5.
Huddersfield (14) 24. Tries: Smith, Greenwood, Nero, Crabtree. Goals: Thorman 4.
Hull: Tony, Saxton, Whiting, Yeaman, Barnett, Cooke, R. Horne, Dowes, Swain, Thackray, McMenemy, Kearney, Chester. Replacements: King, Carvell, Brough, G. Horne.
Huddersfield: St Hilaire, Greenwood, Evans, Clayton, Donlan, Thorman, March, McDonald, Drew, Jackson, Nero, Smith, O'Hare. Replacements: Gannon, Crabtree, Grayshon, White.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Dewsbury) Att: 7,962
Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this great article.