AND SO Huddersfield Giants keep the dream alive again, until after Wembley week at least.
Simon Woolford’s side simply will not give hope of breaking into Super League’s top-four.
In eventually putting aside a woeful Hull FC last night, they incredulously made it 11 wins from their last dozen league games.
With Warrington Wolves losing against Castleford Tigers at the same time, it means the West Yorkshire club – bottom in May – have now moved to within four points of Warrington in fourth with five Super 8s games remaining.
It will still take a remarkable sequence of events to achieve a semi-final berth but – with loose forward Dale Ferguson in commanding form and Danny Brough breaking yet more records – they cannot be under-estimated.
Broken Hull, on the other hand, just want this season to end as they suffered a sixth straight loss and saw yet more players, prop Chris Green and half-back Jordan Abdull, aided off the field injured.
They were level 0-0 at half-time and so, then, for all their wretched play, still had a chance of emerging from that troubling sequence.
However, Brough found a telling pass for Alex Mellor to score in the 43rd minute and when the tireless Adam O’Brien broke clear in the next set, Lee Gaskell supported to quickly put the hosts on their way.
With his second conversion, Brough moved up to seventh in the all-time leading scorers list, replacing Cyril Kellett, the former Featherstone Rovers and Hull KR full-back who retired in 1974.
The former Scotland captain now has 3,691 points to his name with only Neil Fox, Jim Sullivan, Kevin Sinfield, Bev Risman, John Woods and Mick Nanyn above him.
Furthermore, with the same kick, Brough also reached 1,000 Super League goals.
Obviously, the veteran half-back’s most famous kick was the conversion of Paul Cooke’s late try to give Hull FC a famous Challenge Cup final win over Leeds Rhinos in Cardiff.
The Airlie Birds, without injured half-backs Marc Sneyd and Albert Kelly as well as stand-in stand-off Jake Connor, clearly missed someone of his control and influence last night.
Brough’s 51st–minute penalty essentially killed the game at 14-0.
Hull could easily have capitulated at that point but, to their credit, kept fighting.
Bureta Faraimo showed real strength to bump off Kruise Leeming soon after to score and make sure they did not go home pointless.
The USA international converted, too, and that briefly raised spirits in Lee Radford’s side.
Nevertheless, it was Huddersfield who came home stronger.
England winger Jermaine McGillvary burst infield to supply Ryan Hinchcliffe with a deserved try, Brough improving, and then Ukuma Ta’ai powered home late on, Darnell McIntosh taking over kicking duties with Brough coming off with an ankle injury.
They host Wakefield Trinity on Friday August 31 and, if they can negotiate that, will head to face Challenge Cup finalists Warrington in what could yet be a game of real intrigue,
Here, though, the first half was utterly dreadful and not just because it finished with that rarity of a 0-0 scoreline.
There was so little attacking quality of note and, at times, it was just plain dire.
Hull, in particular, struggled, looking like a side in such poor form.
There seemed no structure in a lot of their plays, Carlos Tuimavave toce dropped the ball and also got forced into touch while three times they aimlessly grubbered dead to concede a seven-tackle set.
It was hard to watch. Even when they got half a chance, Liam Harris latching on a spilled Huddersfield pass, it ended in comical circumstances.
The scrum-half kicked ahead with the line at his mercy only to see the ball wickedly bounce back past him – straight to the relieved Giants full-back Jordan Rankin.
Hull forwards Mickey Paea and Mark Minichiello did, technically, both get over the goalline but were both easily held up and never looked like actually scoring.
The hosts worked through their sets better and, of course, Brough’s kicking game caused its usual problems.
However, even then, sometimes the chase was a little lacklustre and, with ball in hand, Woolford’s side struggled to break down Hull who, in fairness, initially remained well-organised.
Huddersfield wasted possession decent attacking positions, too, with Colton Roche proving the worst offender.
Coughing up a Brough pass once was forgivable – this was only the former Sheffield Eagles prop’s fourth Super League game – but when he spilled again playing the ball on the second tackle close to Hull’s line, Woolford had had enough.
There was only 40 seconds of the half remaining but he ‘hooked’ the 25-year-old straight off.
Hopefully Roche will quickly learn.
His colleagues certainly did in that second period as they took firm control.
Huddersfield Giants: Rankin; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Turner, McIntosh; Gaskell, Brough; Matagi, O’Brien, Ta’ai, Mellor, Roberts, Hinchcliffe. Substitutes: Ferguson, Clough, Leeming, Roche.
Hull FC: Shaul; Faraimo, Griffin, Tuimavave, Talanoa; Abdull, Harris; Taylor, Houghton, Paea, Manu, Minichiello, Hadley. Substitutes: Green, Bienek, Washbrook, Lane.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham)