Huddersfield Giants 40 Hull FC 26: Jermaine McGillvary stars as Giants end losing run

FOR the briefest of times tonight it was hard not to wonder whether world champions Australia would be lighting up this ground in a few months’ time.

However, then Will Pryce, the Huddersfield Giants tyro, lit up the John Smith’s Stadium in the here and now with a brilliant solo score instead and England winger Jermaine McGillvary claimed an unlikely quartet of tries.

All of a sudden it was easy to forget all the World Cup turmoil which had dominated the rest of the day.

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The Kangaroos were clear favourites to secure a 2021 World Cup quarter-final spot at the West Yorkshire venue as Group B winners on November 12.

That is, of course, until their myopic club game’s powerbrokers decided to pull them from the tournament this morning for reasons only they will truly understand.

It remains hopeful that, with the likes of vaunted Sydney Roosters head coach Trent Robinson and iconic Kangaroos full-back James Tedesco trying to make them see sense Down Under - backed by some Government pressure here - there will be a U-turn.

In the meantime, on a warm, bright evening in Kirklees, with crowds back in enjoying themselves under no Covid restrictions, two of Super League’s clubs put on a show of their own.

Pryce’s dazzling try was the highlight of the first half, as the 18-year-old produced a ‘show and go’ straight out of his dad Leon’s playbook to leave his father’s former Hull team-mate Danny Houghton trailing.

Huddersfield Giants captain Leroy Cudjoe scores on his 300th club appearance against Hull FC. (JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

With an instant dash, full-back Adam Swift was also left in his wake from 20m out and Giants - on a six-game losing run - were well-deserving of their 22-16 interval lead.

When Sam Hewitt, Nathan Peats, Owen Trout and Luke Yates gang-tackled Swift to force him five metres back behind his own line for a drop-out, Huddersfield looked anything but a side in such dismal form.

Indeed, Olly Russell, their young scrum-half tasked with leading the side following Aidan Sezer’s injury and looming exit to Leeds Rhinos, showed real confidence to dink a grubber in early in the tackle count from the resultant drop-out.

McGillvary was on the same wavelength, motoring up out wide to claim his hat-trick.

Hull FC's Andre Savelio is under close watch from Huddersfield Giants. (JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

It was quite the turnaround for the 33-year-old; earlier in the evening, he had come under such pressure with Marc Sneyd’s kicking game that coach Ian Watson moved him from the right flank to the left, switching rookie Louis Senior in his place instead.

McGillvary certainly responded well and - with Hull down to 12 men after Ligi Sao’s rash high tackle on Hewitt - he added a fourth following a wonderful pass from Russell who delivered his best display of the campaign.

There was even still time for Leroy Cudjoe to gain the biggest cheer of the night, the veteran centre shrugging off tired defence to weave his way over for a try on his 300th appearance with his hometown club.

It was a relief for Cudjoe, too, given he had spilled Pryce’s lovely floated pass just after the hour mark to allow Hull’s Mitieli Vulikijapani to race in for his second try, Sneyd’s conversion leaving the visitors trailing just 28-20.

Huddersfield Giants' Jermaine McGillvary slides in for one of his four tries. (JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

When Sneyd directed one of his trademark 40/20s in the next set, Giants could have crumbled but Ash Golding and Chris McQueen denied Carlos Tuimavave.

Chris Satae got a late consolation but, by then, Huddersfield had taken firm control.

Tuimavave had opened the scoring before tries from McGillvary and the excellent Peats for Giants in front for the first time.

When McGillvary spilled Sneyd’s kick, Vulikijapani rose above him for the Fijian’s first try and then Mahe Fonua got in front of the Huddersfield winger to palm down for Jordan Lane’s score.

Watson made his inspired switch and, after the excellent Luke Yates and Pryce both crossed, McGillvary latched on to the first of Russell’s splendid kicks to see them in front at the break.

Giants showed great resilience to earn their success, the only negative being the sight of Josh Jones being red-carded for fighting with former Hull team-mate Andre Savelio who was also sent-off after a melee exploded just as the final hooter sounded.

Savelio tried to continue matters down the tunnel and needed to be held back.

Hull had not played for four weeks but coach Brett Hodgson had no excuses for the display.

And hopefully the World Cup will be back here in November - with or without the world champions.

Huddersfield Giants: Golding; McGillvary, Jake Wardle, Cudjoe, L Senior; Russell, Pryce; Yates, Peats, Wilson, Jones, McQueen, Trout. Substitutes: Wood, Hewitt, Stevens, Peteru.

Hull FC: Swift; Vulikijapani, Fonua, Scott; McNamara, Sneyd; Satae, Houghton, Sao, Savelio, Lane, Fash. Substitutes: Johnstone, Bowden, Brown, Burrell.

Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield)