Huddersfield Giants will take on Wigan Warriors at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the Betfred Challenge Cup final after beating Hull Kingston Rovers in Leeds. The Giants were rewarded for their quality and hard work as they dominated the pitch to run out 25-4 winners over Tony Smith's Rovers.
It was a full throttle start, with Huddersfield Giants looking to have the territory over the Robins in the first ten minutes. Jordan Abdull used his bombs to test his opposition fullbacks and try and find an error in the catch but they maintained their composure. An early crossing of the line for Huddersfield’s Ricky Leutele was ruled out for obstruction and it was a vital reset for Hull KR as they looked to regain some ground and force themselves up the pitch.
Ollie Russell and Josh Jones combined just after the ten minute mark to open the scoring, with Russell breaking the line before finding a simple pass to his second row teammate who crossed the line unchallenged. The kick from Russell was easy enough and Huddersfield’s fast start was applauded by head coach Ian Watson.
Just as it looked like Rovers were getting somewhere in Huddersfield’s 20 metres, Jordan Abdull’s high kick was plucked out of the air by Leutele who threw it over to Innes Senior who covered the whole pitch for the second try of the game. Russell converted again and the Rovers’ fans who had dominated the air were silenced.
Hull KR had the ball in hand for the next ten minutes, but the Giants stood firm, and the increasingly greasy grass was ending any hopes of some fancy footwork to negotiate a way over the line. The keystone to success for Watson’s side was strong defensive motions on their own try line, snuffing out the playmakers in the Rovers side before they could release the likes of Ryan Hall.
The first half ended with Hull KR trying to force their way down the wings with no avail, before Tuimoala Lolohea managed to regain possession for the Giants and started a bit of a counter-attack, but the ball ended up petering out.
It didn’t take long for the play to continue on the tracks that lay before it, as Huddersfield winger Jermaine McGillvary had a run down the wing where he fended off Ethan Ryan on the recovery, to slam the ball down and compound Rovers’ misery further. Russell left his kick just shy of the posts to keep it 16-0, but he got the chance to redeem himself shortly after, when the Robins were caught offside, which he converted from 25 metres out.
The one that truly sealed the deal was the forward, Owen Trout, powering through a fatigued Robins defence and comfortably adding another four points before Russell’s extra two. Damage limitation may have been the only option for Tony Smith’s men with what remained of the second half, after conceding so freely. Veteran winger Ryan Hall was dumped out of play after a solid catch by McGillvary in what seemed like a summary of the game we’d seen so far. On the following goal line drop out, notched an extra point with a drop goal and it was seemingly done and dusted.
Tony Smith’s gamble to try Kane Linnett had failed and without star fullback Lachlan Coote, it was an uphill battle from minute one for the Robins. More injuries arrived in the game, with Elliot Minchella passing a head injury assessment but leaving the pitch shortly after with an ankle injury.
A late scramble from Shaun Kenny-Dowell saw him get the ball down in the corner against the odds after it appeared like he dropped it, but it means that Hull can say they leave the ground with four points to their name. Jordan Abdull failed to convert as he smacked the post with a solid effort from the by-line.
It ended 25-4 and Huddersfield Giants sealed their spot at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the first time it will have been used as a rugby league venue, where they’ll be facing Wigan for the grand prize. It was a tough day at the office for Hull KR, where the loss wasn’t due to a lack of effort but a lack of quality with and without the ball due to injuries.
It’s set to be a swashbuckling clash in the capital, with the likes of Chris Hill hoping to get his hands on silverware for the final time in his career. Set a date in your calendar, May 28th!
*18+ | BeGambleAware
Picture courtesy of swpix.com