Huddersfield Giants 12 Hull KR 24: Shake-up pays off as Willie Peters finds winning formula

For coaches, the early stages of the season are a time to test options and land on a winning formula.

Points will be dropped along the way – much to the frustration of supporters – but coaches are in the business of playing the long game.

Bevan French struggled to find a home in the first half of last year before settling in at stand-off and leading Wigan Warriors to Super League glory.

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Hull KR are a long way from Old Trafford but Willie Peters appears to be closer to landing on his best team following a convincing win at Huddersfield Giants.

After fielding countless questions in the early weeks about Peta Hiku's suitability to full-back, Peters bit the bullet and switched things up to great effect.

Hiku moved to centre and scored two of KR's five tries in a strong showing.

Niall Evalds – his replacement at full-back – set up three tries and was virtually faultless without the ball.

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Rovers fans might have been left wondering why it took Peters so long but nothing is won or lost in March and he has learnt a lot about his new group in the first month of the campaign.

Hull KR's Jez Litten thanks the fans and supporters after the win at Huddersfield. (Photo: Olly Hassell/ KR's Jez Litten thanks the fans and supporters after the win at Huddersfield. (Photo: Olly Hassell/
Hull KR's Jez Litten thanks the fans and supporters after the win at Huddersfield. (Photo: Olly Hassell/

Joe Burgess benefited from the shake-up to score his first Robins try early on and set the tone for a dominant display.

Jez Litten and Ryan Hall were KR's other tryscorers as they got back on track following consecutive defeats.

Rovers arrived at the John Smith's Stadium with a fully fit squad but left with injury concerns after Mikey Lewis failed a HIA and George King injured his hamstring.

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Huddersfield lost both meetings with the Robins last season and never truly troubled Peters' men in a poor performance.

Joe Burgess celebrates his first Hull KR try. (Photo: Olly Hassell/ Burgess celebrates his first Hull KR try. (Photo: Olly Hassell/
Joe Burgess celebrates his first Hull KR try. (Photo: Olly Hassell/

The Giants were nilled by St Helens in their only previous home outing and had to wait until the 65th minute to open their account at the John Smith's Stadium through Kevin Naiqama.

Adam Swift scored a second for Huddersfield late on but it was mere consolation for the well-beaten hosts as they failed to kick on after putting 50 points on Castleford Tigers.

The first half was a tale of two Sam Halsall errors that were ruthlessly punished by the Robins.

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The winger was guilty of dropping a high kick from Mikey Lewis just two minutes in to give Rovers perfect field position.

Hull KR captain Elliot Minchella on the charge. (Photo: Olly Hassell/ KR captain Elliot Minchella on the charge. (Photo: Olly Hassell/
Hull KR captain Elliot Minchella on the charge. (Photo: Olly Hassell/

KR caught Huddersfield cold from the scrum, Tyrone May and Evalds showing slick handling to give Burgess the chance to slide over in the corner.

Litten sent the touchline conversion wide to continue a worrying early-season theme for the Robins – but he atoned for the miss in the 23rd minute.

Rovers had the Giants penned in and ramped up the pressure as Halsall carried the ball away from his own line.

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The visitors turned the tackle into a union-style rolling maul and Litten was on hand to touch down after the ball came loose.

While conceding a try in possession is one of rugby league's cardinal sins, it was a reward for a tenacious defensive effort.

Stung by conceding five tries against Warrington Wolves in their previous outing, the Robins defended with intent throughout to limit Huddersfield's opportunities.

The Giants were guilty of forcing passes in their desperation to make things happen.

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Any time Huddersfield sensed an opening, Rovers slammed the door shut.

Kelepi Tanginoa came up with an important tackle to deny Giants captain Luke Yates just short of the line and Oliver Wilson was held up in another strong defensive effort.

Rovers were celebrating turnovers with vigour and breaking Huddersfield's spirit.

The Robins held a slender 8-0 lead at the interval but there was a sense they had done the hard work.

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If there was any doubt about the outcome, it was swiftly removed in the early stages of the second half as Hiku produced a classy finish from Lewis' lofted kick.

Litten made no mistake from the tee and Rovers could enjoy the remaining minutes, even if there was the best part of a half left to play.

Huddersfield were struggling to create opportunities and the Robins appeared in the mood to cut loose.

The impressive Evalds demonstrated his blistering pace to break clear from halfway and the Giants could not recover despite Tui Lolohea's best efforts.

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The Huddersfield playmaker got a hand to Evalds' pass back inside but could only knock it to the ground and it bounced up perfectly for Hiku to finish.

After enduring an injury nightmare towards the end of his time at Castleford, Evalds proved his quality at the John Smith's Stadium.

The full-back created KR's fifth try, taking the ball to the line before getting his hands free to offload for Hall to finish in the corner.

James Batchelor made it five misses from five attempts in 2024 after taking over the tee temporarily but the points were in the bag for the Robins.

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Huddersfield kept going and belatedly opened their home account with two late tries.

Esan Marsters crabbed across the field to open up a hole for Naiqama to burst through before Swift benefited from fast hands to go over in the corner.

Litten sent a last-gasp penalty wide but KR will worry about their goalkicking issues another day after getting back on track with an accomplished performance.

Huddersfield Giants: Connor, Swift, Marsters, Naiqama, Halsall, Russell, Clune, Hill, Milner, Ikahihifo, Murchie, Hewitt, Cudjoe. Substitutes: Lolohea, Yates, Rushton, Wilson.

Tries: Naiqama (65), Swift (76)

Goals: Connor 2/2

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Hull KR: Evalds, Burgess, Hiku, Gildart, Hall, May, Lewis, Sue, Litten, Whitbread, Hadley, Batchelor, Minchella. Substitutes: King, Parcell, Luckley, Tanginoa.

Tries: Burgess (3), Litten (22), Hiku (43, 53), Hall (61)

Goals: Litten 2/5, Batchelor 0/1

Referee: Tom Grant.

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