4 days ago
Hull FC?s quest to secure a maiden second-placed finish in the engage Super League was given a huge boost courtesy of a 26-12 win over Huddersfield Giants at the Galpharm Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Peter Sharp?s side are now four points clear of third-placed Leeds Rhinos thanks to the win - their 15th in 16 outings, a run which started on this ground back in April.
Their performance on Sunday was watertight in defence, a hallmark of Sharp?s reign, although their efficiency in attack left something to be desired at times.
For their part, Powergen Challenge Cup finalists Huddersfield are now faced with juggling their Twickenham preparations with a relegation battle.
This loss leaves the hosts precariously placed at the foot of the table and an apparent injury to skipper Chris Thorman did little to raise their spirits.
For Hull, the win was set up by an outstanding opening spell, which despite yielding just eight points in 30 minutes set the tone for the majority of the clash, although two late Huddersfield tries did set their nerves jangling.
During this period, Huddersfield were forced to drop out four times and were restricted to just one attack of note, which came to an end when Thorman knocked on with the line at his mercy.
Motu Tony posted the opening try of the game in the third minute, darting over from dummy-half to take advantage of poor marking.
Although 24 minutes then elapsed before Paul Cooke kicked a penalty to put Hull eight points clear, the visitors had done enough to suggest their threat to leaders St Helens is a significant one.
Nathan Blacklock wasted a chance for a further score as did Danny Washbrook and, although Sharp will have been disappointed with the lack of a cutting edge, the performances of Richard Horne, Cooke and Richard Swain, the side?s chief playmakers, will have no doubt been pleasing.
Sharp?s mood will have been lightened too by Shayne McMenemy?s try three minutes from the hooter, capitalising on good work from Gareth Raynor whilst Cooke?s goal extended the lead to 14-0, a fairer reflection of the half.
McMenemy?s try came with Brad Drew in the sin bin for the home side after showing dissent to referee Phil Bentham.
The second-half began in similar fashion for both sides.
Three minutes in, Raynor made a nuisance of himself chasing Cooke?s kick and caused enough panic in the home defence to let Graeme Horne in and ground.
Richard Whiting was held up over the line by Stephen Wild as Hull pressed for more tries but, unfortunately, the game temporarily degenerated into a succession of knock-ons and failed interceptions.
The disruptions suited the Giants though, and they were able to gain some field position as a result.
Stuart Jones crashed onto Kevin Brown?s pass to open their account for the afternoon with Michael de Vere?s goal reducing the deficit to 14 points.
Huddersfield were buoyed by Jones? effort and, when Andy Raleigh barged his way over with eight minutes remaining, they began to reap the rewards for their second-half efforts.
De Vere?s touchline goal still left them needing two scores though, which became three when Shaun Briscoe crossed for Hull to secure the points.
Cooke added the goal for to complete a perfect afternoon with the boot, while Paul King was placed on report in the last minute for a dangerous tackle on Paul Reilly.
Huddersfield Giants: Reilly, Aspinwall, Brown, De Vere, Donlan, Thorman, Paul, Mason, Drew, Gannon, Nero, Jones, Wild Replacements: Crabtree, Smith, McDonald, Raleigh
Hull FC: Tony, Blacklock, Whiting, Domic, Raynor, Cooke, R. Horne, Dowes, Swain, Carvell, McMenemy, G. Horne, Washbrook. Replacements: Wheeldon, Higgins, Briscoe, King
Huddersfield Giants: (0) 12 Tries: Jones, Raleigh Goals: De Vere 2
Hull FC: (14) 26 Tries: Tony, McMenemy, G Horne, Briscoe Goals: Cooke 5
Referee: P Bentham (Warrington)