IT may come a little too late to avoid ending up in the Qualifiers but Hull KR last night showed just what they are capable of in Super League.
Tim Sheens’s side destroyed hapless Huddersfield Giants who had won their previous five league games but will now fall back into the bottom four again themselves if Catalans Dragons avoid losing against Castleford tonight.
There was plenty of positives for the Robins and ample reasons why they were able to produce such a quality display, only their fifth win of the campaign.
Clearly, the return of Danny McGuire after missing the last six games with a blood clot was crucial.
The former Leeds Rhinos captain exuded class and control from half-back but there was impressive showings, too, from the giant centre Junior Vaivai and Adam Quinlan, the Australian full-back who scored twice to take his season tally to 11.
Ryan Shaw also crossed twice and improved all six of Rovers’ tries as they recovered from an early 4-0 deficit to score 36 unanswered points between the half-hour and 57th minute.
That said, Giants were a pale shadow of the side that had made so many improvements over the last couple of months since Simon Woolford’s appointment.
Their ball control was poor and discipline even worse so it was no surprise the Robins – with explosive prop Robbie Mulhern also making a fine return from injury – eventually took such firm control. They were 12-4 at the break but should have been further ahead given all their pressure.
McGuire’s influence was clear from the off as he immediately took control of the side and – along with Chris Atkin – continually caused Giants problems with his kicks.
Indeed, that aspect of their game was so impressive that the hosts managed to force four goalline drop-outs inside the opening 28 minutes alone.
Tellingly, though, they didn’t managed to convert any into an actual try until the last one.
It was McGuire who proved the orchestrator, his short ball pumping Joel Tomkins through from close range for the ex-England second-row’s first try since switching from Wigan Warriors.
Huddersfield had conceded possession beforehand when Jermaine McGillvary – playing six days after featuring for England in Denver – spilled trying to play-the-ball 30m from his own line.
Aaron Murphy was in a similar position when he was penalised for walking off the mark, gifting Rovers another chance to strike which they duly took.
Mulhern charged in before finding a splendid offload out of the tackle for Quinlan to dart over in the 33rd minute.
Shaw improved both and, with Huddersfield’s discipline being poor throughout the half, the hosts continued to press.
Huddersfield had opened the scoring against the run of play in the 16th minute when Liam Salter lost the ball behind his own line following Lee Gaskell’s tackle.
Darnell McIntosh was on hand to touch down but from thereon in they created very little and didn’t cross again until Murphy’s consolation in the 71st minute.
Given all that defensive effort, it was no surprise they wilted in the second half but, again, they did not help themselves.
Vaivai blasted in off Atkin’s short pass following another penalty in the 44th minute and it got worse soon after.
This time Leroy Cudjoe became the second Giants player to be penalised when in possession, deemed by referee Scott Mikalauskas to have interfered with the marker at the play-the-ball.
Mulhern made a midfield break from McGuire’s pass and Quinlan supported up the middle for his second try of the night.
Then Shaw got his brace, the second after Vaivai had brilliantly left Cudjoe rooted to the spot, before Atkin rounded things off with a drop goal with the final play. They remain in 11th but host Salford next week and are growing belief.
Hull KR: Quinlan, Shaw, Blair, Vaivai, Salter, McGuire, Atkin, Scruton, Lee, Tickle, Greenwood, Tomkins, Clarkson. Substitutes: Lunt, Masoe, Kavanagh, Mulhern.
Huddersfield: Rankin, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Gaskell, McIntosh, Turner, Russell, Lawrence, Leeming, English, Mellor, Murphy, Hinchcliffe. Substitutes: Ikahihifo, Roberts, Smith, O’Brien.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas (RFL)