TWO tries from Wales international Larne Patrick sent Huddersfield Giants to within two points of Super League leaders St Helens last night.
Hull Kingston Rovers and the Giants were locked at 16-16 at half-time, and with the sides drawing 24-24 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, there was again little to choose between them.
But the Giants stepped up a gear after the break, to the frustration of the majority of the 8,953 crowd, with 25-year-old Patrick the visitors’ match-winner with two second-half strikes.
Victory sees Paul Anderson’s Giants climb above Warrington Wolves and Castleford Tigers into fourth, a point behind Leeds Rhinos and two behind Saints.
The Robins – wearing a special kit on a fundraising night for the Yorkshire Regiment Benevolent Fund – were first to trouble the scorers.
It was former Giants winger David Hodgson who caught the visitors sleeping to crash over on the left flank for a try converted by Travis Burns.
Hull KR assistant coach Chris Chester had warned of the need to muzzle the attacking threat of Danny Brough – the general in the Giants’ attack with his supreme goal kicking.
And it was Brough who created the opening to level the scores at 6-6.
The Rovers’ defence seemed to stand still when the ball was hoisted high, leaving winger Jermaine McGillvary to collect the ball before passing inside for the supporting Leroy Cudjoe.
Brough added the extras after the video referee cleared the try despite home claims off offside.
If that decision angered Robins fans, they were left cheering the big screen twice within a couple of minutes.
First McGillvary had a ‘try’ ruled out after television replays showed a knock-on in the build-up.
Then, Kris Welham’s try was confirmed at the other end, to leave Hull KR leading 10-6 after 20 minutes.
Both defences were proving to be fragile, a score looking likely on every attack, and it was no surprise to see Ukuma Ta’ai bulldoze through some tame home tackling to level the scores.
The only surprise was seeing both Burns and Brough – the latter Super League’s leading goalkicker – miss their respective conversion attempts from positions where they are usually so assured.
The video referees Richard Silverwood and Steve Ganson were earning their corn and another review was sent their way before the interval.
This time Kris Keating’s kick came off a clutch of hands before bouncing kindly for Ade Gardner – making his 350th career appearance – who swept over the line. The try was confirmed, but Burns again missed the conversion.
England international Eorl Crabtree then powered through the heart of Rovers’ defence for a try, Brough adding the extras to give Huddersfield a 16-14 lead.
It could have been worse for Craig Sandercock’s side, but referee Ben Thaler hauled play back for a forward pass as McGillvary raced clear away down the right flank.
Burns levelled the scores on the stroke of half-time – after Mick Weyman earned a penalty – to send the sides in locked at 16-16.
Both coaches would have had stern words about their poor defences, and the second half showed a marked improvement.
Huddersfield were penalised a couple of times for forward passes to end promising moves, while David Hodgson saw a ‘try’ ruled out for obstruction as Keating kicked for the gap.
It was the visitors who broke the second-half deadlock on 55 minutes. Gardner looked favourite to retrieve a hopeful punt forward, but the ball bounced awkwardly allowing the chasing Patrick to scoop it up to score.
Brough was not having the best night with his kicking, missing the conversion.
But he made amends when he added the extras to Blackpool-born Patrick’s second try of the night on 68 minutes.
At 26-16 down, Hull KR – who knew victory would have taken them into the play-off berths –needed a response and David Hodgson came closest but failed to ground the ball when he was squeezed out in the corner.
Hodgson finally snatched his second try in the final minute –Burns converting – but Huddersfield managed to play out the final few seconds to take the points.
Hull KR: Eden, Gardner, Welham, Hall, D Hodgson, Burns, Keating, Walker, J Hodgson, Netherton, Horne, Lovegrove, Ollett. Substitutes: Karlile, Cox, Weyman, Green.
Huddersfield Giants: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Broughton, Brough, Wood, Johnson, Robinson, Kopczak, Ferres, Ta’ai, Lawrence. Substitutes: Crabtree, Bailey, Patrick, Faiumu.
Referee: B Thaler (RFL).