Huddersfield and Hull FC served up a classic cup tie today.
The Giants edged it on the back of some outstanding moments of rugby league from fullback Tui Lolohea as they booked their place in the semi-finals joining St Helens and Hull KR in the final four.
It was a fiery game of high intensity rugby league and was everything the Challenge Cup is about.
More tryscoring delight from Chris McQueen
It’s rare that you’ll see a try from a grubber kick regarded as one of the tries of the game, but Chris McQueen’s four-pointer from a Tui Lolohea kick should be seen as such. It was a lovely planned move shifting the ball down the blind side first before Jack Cogger shifted it back right where Lolohea found space to feed a grubber through for McQueen to score and continue his amazing try scoring form of late as the league’s top scoring forward.
The Huddersfield Giants extend their lead! 💪
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) April 9, 2022
Leutele punching holes in Hull’s defence
Ricky Leutele has to be one of the league’s most underrated players and today he had endless joy against a stern and determined right edge defensively from Hull FC. Scrambling efforts from the Black and Whites ensured more damage was not done when Leutele was given the ball but he was still a joy to behold down the Giants’ left. He scored the game’s opening try and his explosivity continually allowed him to bust tackles and make half breaks.
Feisty start to the second half
You couldn’t have asked for a better start to the second half as a sprinkling of controversy raised the intensity both on the pitch and amongst the fans. Jake Connor started it all when he swatted away two Huddersfield defenders including Theo Fages on his kick return which the Giants took exception to swarming the former Huddersfield man and marching him back. They got a touch carried away though and conceded a penalty which incensed the Giants fans who showered Connor with boos which the fullback seemed to relish. The Giants then rose to this fiery start to the second half marching back Hull’s next drive a good 15 metres. However, there was a twist in the tale as Hull built pressure. Then a storming run from Andre Savelio saw the big backrow pick up Hull’s second try which breathed life into the game as a contest.
Lolohea the trysaver
After the incident with Jake Connor, Theo Fages was centre of attention where the Hull defence was concerned and for Josh Griffin it led to what appeared to the ultimate role reversal. In the Challenge Cup semi-finals last year, Griffin went down injured dropping the ball leading to a Fages try. Today, Fages dropped the ball and was smashed by the onrushing Hull FC defence. Griffin picked up the ball and seemed destined for a try as he raced away but a scrambling effort from Lolohea denied him forcing the centre to knock on keeping the score at 16-12.
Lolohea the tryscorer
Nonetheless, despite the fact they were still in the lead after that tackle, there was a sense of uneasiness around Huddersfield as the second half went on. The game slipped into a physical battle and with a quarter left, still only four points separated the two sides. It was a case of who would blink first or which team could conjure up some brilliance to turn the game. This huge moment came in the shape of Lolohea’s try. He supported a delightful break from Luke Yates and outfoxed opposite number Connor to score a decisive try.
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) April 9, 2022
1. Proper Challenge Cup rugby
Today was a game that epitomised what the Challenge Cup should be all about. Two teams desperate for a place in the final four of the tournament willing to do anything to get there. It led to a game of high intensity rugby with both sets of fans fully invested. It was a brutal affair too with neither side giving the other an inch and that’s why going into the final 20 it was a case of who would blink first with only four points separating the sides. A quality contest in which both sides shone for significant spells, the brilliance of the game is epitomised by the number of highlights included in this piece. A proper cup tie decided by some moments of brilliance.
2. Big games call for big players
A lot of Huddersfield’s recruitment process under Ian Watson has centred around bringing in players who could rise to the big occasions and be leaders so they signed the likes of former Warrington skipper Chris Hill, two-time Grand Final winner Theo Fages and Giants captain Luke Yates. All have brought experience, leadership and mental strength to the Giants creating something of the perfect recipe for Ian Watson. All Huddersfield’s leaders stood up today with Hill shining down the middle and Fages quietly directing the game. But the big moment came from Luke Yates whose break led to Lolohea’s decisive try who also had a superb game himself coming up with big moments in both attack and defence.
3. Huddersfield have everything to challenge in 2022
With those leaders on the field, a real understanding of when to strike and when to be patient in attack and physicality down the middle, Huddersfield have everything required to challenge for trophies in 2022. Add to that the skill and flair of players like Lolohea and Will Pryce and they could very well get to the final in this competition and push on in Super League.
6 Tui Lolohea – 9
5 Ashton Golding – 7
21 Leroy Cudjoe – 7
4 Ricky Leutele – 8
25 Innes Senior – 7
16 Jack Cogger – 7
7 Theo Fages – 8
8 Chris Hill – 9
9 Danny Levi – 8
20 Oliver Wilson – 7
11 Josh Jones – 8
12 Chris McQueen – 8
13 Luke Yates – 8
10 Michael Lawrence – 6
14 Matty English – 7
15 Joe Greenwood – 7
18 Sebastine Ikahihifo – 7
1 Jake Connor – 6
2 Adam Swift – 7
25 Mitieli Vulikijapani – 8
4 Josh Griffin – 7
5 Darnell McIntosh – 8
14 Joe Lovodua – 7
7 Luke Gale – 7
8 Ligi Sao – 7
9 Danny Houghton – 7
10 Chris Satae – 8
11 Andre Savelio – 8
12 Manu Ma’u – 8
20 Jack Brown – 6
6 Josh Reynolds – 8
16 Kane Evans – 6
17 Brad Fash – 6
21 Jordan Johnstone – 6