Brough unwraps an Easter treat as Giants beat Hull

DURING the intensive Easter period, when aching legs and bodies are tiring fast, players like Danny Brough are simply worth their weight in gold.

The England hopeful proved just that yesterday as he helped Huddersfield Giants overcome a mistake-ridden performance to strengthen their position at the top of Stobart Super League and inflict only a second defeat of the season on Hull FC.

Their spirited opponents could have usurped them in pole position with victory themselves and had their noses in front 4-2 on the hour mark.

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But depleted Hull, missing seven regulars, were eventually made to pay for a draining first half where they spent most of the time camped on their own line.

Their well-organised defence – the best in Super League – held up manfully during that sustained period, underlining the quality Peter Gentle has engendered this term.

With only one change to the squad that defeated Hull KR on Good Friday, though, it was inevitable fatigue would finally set in and, after Eorl Crabtree plunged through on 62 minutes, it was Brough who took control amid the rain at Galpharm Stadium.

The dynamic ex-Hull FC scrum-half converted, hoisted up a massive spiralling bomb which led to another two points and then brilliantly scampered away 50m to set up Joe Wardle’s clinching try.

“He was the stand-out player on the field,” enthused Giants coach Nathan Brown.

“Broughy had a great all-round game. In those conditions, some blokes’ attacking games were down though defensively they were great but Broughy ticked all the boxes.”

The sides meet again in the Challenge Cup fourth round on Sunday, only this time at KC Stadium.

Given the depth of Huddersfield’s squad – they were able to rest four players yesterday but still boasted a bench including three internationals and easily overcame Tommy Lee limping off injured after just three minutes – it is hard not to envisage them repeating the result.

Hopefully, with both squads able to get some well-earned rest beforehand, it may be a better spectacle than this affair which, not surprisingly, did not live up to first versus second billing.

The error count was massive and, until Giants sorted themselves in that final quarter, the game often descended into farce. There was some surprise when Hull told Danny Tickle to kick a penalty as early as the tenth minute; the fixture was predicted to be close but that was perhaps a little conservative.

However, maybe Hull realised how hard it was going to be to hold onto the ball, let alone score tries. Likewise, Huddersfield – Brough levelled with their first kickable penalty in the 16th minute.

It was almost a rugby union approach and, with 15 scrums awarded in the first half alone, it was easy to confuse it with a game from the other code. All we needed was the line outs.

The majority of those scrums came from handling errors, a sign of the game’s sheer erratic nature,

Granted, some resulted from ferocious hits – Huddersfield duo David Fa’alogo and Wardle, in particular, operated with real menace yesterday – but many were soft including countless mistakes as players tried to play-the-ball and numerous on the first tackle.

And so it was, after a terrific double effort from Danny Houghton and Brett Seymour had denied Huddersfield’s Scott Grix a certain try, Tickle’s second penalty put Hull back ahead on 59 minutes.

However, just three minutes later, Crabtree reminded his Huddersfield colleagues what could be achieved if they just held the ball and ran with purpose, the England prop stretching through Jay Pitts to score.

Brough improved then Luke Robinson darted over for the Giants’ second try which was again converted.

After the erring full-back Wade McKinnon failed to deal with that towering kick, Hull went high on the talismanic scrum-half who duly slotted his second penalty.

Straight after, his electric pace was too much for the tiring Hull defence as he dummied clear of the ruck to surge through centrefield, Wardle finishing off with Brough adding the kick.

Gentle, who lost his fifth prop when emergency front-row Martin Aspinwall suffered a groin problem, conceded: “We were out on our feet at the end.

“Conditions didn’t really suit either side and backing up on Monday is tough on the boys.

“Everyone has to do it but I can’t see the value of it; it was a slow, messy game.

“We haven’t got the depth of squad to be able to rotate people or rest them but it was disappointing to let in two soft tries.

“Their field position wore us down but on any given day we wouldn’t have conceded those and our defence is something we pride ourselves on.”

Huddersfield: Eden; Murphy, Cudjoe, Wardle, McGillvary; Grix, Brough; Mason, Lee, Mason, Lawrence, Molloy, Brown. Substitutes: Patrick, Chan, Crabtree, Robinson.

Hull FC: McKinnon; Sharp, Turner, Yeaman, Briscoe; Ellis, Seymour; Radford, Houghton, Lynch, Manu, Tickle, Whiting. Substitutes: Bowden, Aspinwall, Pitts, Kent.

Referee: J Child (Dewsbury).