Huddersfield Giants 62 Widnes Vikings 6: Betts calls for change after Giants destroy his Vikings
Vikings coach Denis Betts made six changes to the side that beat Warrington 38-22 on Good Friday and saw his inexperienced line-up cut to pieces by the ruthless Giants.
Inevitably, captain Danny Brough was at the heart of Huddersfield’s impressive display, creating a hat-trick of tries for left winger Aaron Murphy and contributing 22 points on his own with a try and nine goals.
The one-time leaders, who won 66-6 in this fixture in 2012, were determined to bounce after experiencing back-to-back away defeats but they were given a helping hand by some soft defence.
The Vikings, who gave a full debut to 19-year-old scrum-half Tom Gilmore and a second appearance to 22-year-old hooker Grant Gore, trailed 50-0 before opening their account through Joe Mellor. But there was little else for the visitors to cheer.
It was one-way traffic from the moment Huddersfield prop Larne Patrick marked his first start of the season with a clean burst after less than two minutes to set up the position for Brough to get Murphy over for his first try.
Widnes briefly tested the Huddersfield defence before they were hit by two tries in a three-minute spell.
Full-back Scott Grix finished off a break by right winger Jermaine McGillvary before centre Joe Wardle sent Brough over after the visitors were undone by a delightful one-handed offload by second rower Brett Ferres.
Fellow second rower Michael Lawrence then marked his first appearance of the season with a try, crashing over from Shaun Lunt’s short pass, and Brough raced clear on 28 minutes to get Murphy over for his second.
Trailing 26-0 at the break, it got worse for Widnes when England centre Leroy Cudjoe seized on a dropped pass by Gareth Hock and sent Luke George haring 80 metres for a sixth try within two minutes of the re-start.
It was all too easy as the clever Brough carved out further tries for second rower Jamie Cording and Grix to bring up the half-century of points, while McGillivray also crossed.
There was some brief respite for the Vikings when second rower Dave Allen broke clear to get Mellor over for a consolation try on 64 minutes and Gilmore added the conversion.
But Huddersfield rammed home their superiority with two further tries in the last 12 minutes.
Another pinpoint kick from Brough enabled Murphy to complete his first hat-trick for the club before Lunt burrowed his way over from dummy half to complete the demolition job.
Afterwards Betts has joined the called for an end to the Easter double header, claiming it is “close to cruelty”, after watching his patched-up side suffer such a heavey defeat.
He said the players he left out were “beaten up” and insisted he had no regrets over his decision to field an under-strength team.
“If you’d have offered me two points a month ago from Catalan away, Wigan away, Warrington at home and Huddersfield, I would have taken them,” he said.
Betts also pointed to Hull KR’s 84-6 home defeat by leaders Wigan as further evidence of the futility of playing two games in four days in the modern era.
He said: “Easter been a part of my life since I can remember but I think you’ve got to look at this and say ‘it doesn’t work’.
“You cannot play the game the way it’s played now and expect (to get through) two games on a weekend.
“If you’ve got two big squads, you can do it but today I had four or five lads out there who had played one or two Super League games.
“I didn’t put them in because I wanted to see them play, I put them in because I didn’t have anybody else.
“Sometimes you have to let go a little bit of the tradition and move the game forward.
“The reality of the game now is that it’s a lot more physical and the collisions are a lot greater constantly.”
Betts’ comments echoed those of Hull KR coach Craig Sandercock, who condemned the hectic schedule pre-Easter, but Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson believes the double-header should be retained.
“You get one day extra from turning around from Sunday to Friday,” he said.
“We’ve known all along that we’d be playing Friday and Monday at Easter.
“I’ve got no complaints about it. You should get on with it. It’s an opportunity to rack some points up.”
Huddersfield Giants: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Patrick, Ferres, Lawrence, Ferguson. Substitutes: George, Kopczak, Faiumu, Cording.
Widnes Vikings: Briscoe, Flynn, Dean, Winterstein, Owens, Mellor, Gilmore, Joseph, White, Pickersgill, Hock, Leuluai, Cahill. Substitutes: Kavanagh, Gore, Gerrard, Allen.
Referee: T Alibert (RFL).