The Airlie Birds of Hull FC marked their return to post-Covid rugby action with a clear, if bruising, win over Huddersfield in a game which saw Marc Sneyd injured and leave the stadium on crutches while players from each team had to leave the game when they failed a head injury assessment after a crunching contact.
Hull came close to opening the scoring in the right corner a couple of times in the opening 10 minutes, but the Huddersfield defence held firm. Nevertheless, it was the Black and Whites’ half back Albert Kelly who marked his 100th Super League game by dotting down under the sticks on 10 and a half minutes, with ever-reliable goalkicker Sneyd converting for a 6-0 lead.
Sneyd then added a try of his own a couple of minutes later, picking up a loose Huddersfield ball in his own half and sprinting away to put the ball over the line. With Fartown fullback Ash Golding in close attendance, he couldn’t come infield to improve the angle of his own conversion attempt and produced a rare miss when he kicked for goal, leaving the score at 10-0.
He could have made it 12 when Hull won a penalty in front of the sticks, but the team opted to tap and run – and at the end of the set, left centre Josh Griffin found himself on the end of a cross-field kick for a try.
Sneyd added the extras and Hull led 16-0 after just over 20 minutes.
That was has last contribution to the match though. With 15 minutes to go to half time, he landed awkwardly after catching a dangerous Huddersfield ball near the Hull line and was substituted with an ankle injury.
But Hull did not let the blow put them off. Restarting after the break, they marched upfield and young forward Jack Brown broke the Huddersfield line to place the ball on the line for a try, after a quick check by the video ref.
Griffin took over the kicking duties from the absent Sneyd and his goal saw Hull, who had spent the last two weeks in COVID isolation, led 22-0.
Minutes later Mahe Fonua clocked up the Black and Whites’ fifth try, running onto a neat grubber, and Griffin’s second conversion opened the lead out to 28-0.
But the zero side of the scoreline wasn’t destined to last long. On 35 minutes, Ash Golding broke through the Hull Line for his first try in Huddersfield colours Oliver Russel’s conversion made for a more respectable 28-6 score, where it stayed to the break.
Hull kept up the pressure in the opening stages of the second half, but there was no new score – from either side – for the first 20 minutes. Instead both teams seemed to engage in a tit-for-tat game of dropping or losing the ball.
In the end, it was Huddersfield who broke the deadlock, with Jordan Turner grabbing a try after the team in claret and gold started a set in Hull’s 20 following a rare mistake by Jamie Shaul who failed to collect a high ball.
Russell’s conversion moved the scoreline to 28-12.
They were given more chances when Mahe Fonua was sin-binned on 63 minutes for dangerous contact with the head of Darnell McIntosh. But the only score during his 10 minutes in the bin came for Hull, who mounted sustained attacks on the Fartowners’ try line and when they got a penalty for interference at the ruck, the Black and Whites opted to kick for goal.
Griffin stroked it between the posts and with less than 10 minutes to go, extended their lead to 18 points thanks to a 30-12 score. Not content with that though, fullback Shaul kicked a drop goal just to make sure in the 76th minute
Huddersfield Giants: Golding (T), McGillvray, Wardle, Turner (T), McIntosh, O’Brien, Matagi, Edwards, Lawrence, English, Cudjoe, Holmes, Russell (2G). Substitutes: Gavet, Wilson, Hewitt, Wood.
Hull FC: Shaul (DG), Faraimo, Tuimavave, Griffin (2T, 2G, 1 Pen), Sneyd (T, 2 G), Ma’u, Kelly (T), Cator, Johnstone, Fash, Lane, Ellis, Nualago. Substitutes: Houghton, Satae, Fonua (T) (SB 63), Brown (T).
Referee: Chris Kendall
Full Time: 12-31
Ground: Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington