A youthful Hull FC side again provided a scare for Grand Final contenders Huddersfield Giants with another enthusiastic performance that mirrored the previous weeks effort at Wigan in the Super League Super 8s at the KC Stadium.
Lee Radford sprang a surprise as teenage back rower Jack Downs started at Centre next to the returning Kirk Yeaman while Jack Logan moved onto the wing in place of Tom Lineham for the match against Paul Anderson’s side.
Leon Pryce and returned to the run-on 13 and prop Josh Bowden returned from injury on the bench but there was no place for other returnee Jordan Thompson with Jordan Abdull moving from the halves to loose-forward. Masimbaashe Matongo made way after his debut against Wigan Warriors while Jansin Turgut and Brad Fash retained their places on the bench.
The first chance of the game was handed to the black and white’s as the Giants spilled the ball on their 20 meter line, Jack Logan was forced into touch on the free play but from the resulting scrum they hit the front as NRL bound Jordan Rankin scrambled over on Hull’s left sidewith less than four minutes played, Marc Sneyd pulled his conversion attempt across the front of the posts to leave the advantage at four points.
Huddersfield’s first real attack came to a comical end a few minutes later as three kicks were attempted with the final one going out on the full, however the Airlie Birds soon squandered possession with a knock on giving the visitors possession in the Hull half.
Referee Ben Thaler soon had to go to his pocket after 10 minutes to put Craig Huby in the sin bin for a thunderous high tackle on Rankin as the full-back threatened to cut loose in broken field. From the penalty Hull moved the ball quickly left but Curtis Naughton just failed to take the final pass in and the ball went into touch just in front of the Giants try line.
Another penalty gave the Giants a chance and a swift move to their left saw winger Aaron Murphy dive over in the corner in the 15th minute, Danny Brough put the Giants undeservedly in front with a touchline conversion.
Hull gave away another soft penalty with a ball-steal which Brough promptly dispatched into touch less than 10 meters from the black and white’s try line, excellent scrambling defence held them at bay but then another penalty gave them more possession in Hull’s red zone and eventually Jake Connor acrobatically dived in at the left corner in the 24th minute to increase their advantage, Danny Brough hit the post with the conversion and the ball failed to go over to leave the Giants lead at six points.
Just as it seemed the form team in Super League were getting into their stride it was they who then gave away a soft penalty in their own half but Pryce squandered possession just five meters from the Huddersfield line.
Hull were soon granted another opportunity as the Giants then put the ball down on their own 20 meter line but again the attack came to nothing and eventually Huddersfield were given a relieving penalty.
Having marched into the Airlie Birds half Huddersfield were given yet another penalty which Brough again put into touch close to the Hull line however this time the Airlie Birds defence was more than equal to the task.
Another Huddersfield attack saw Jack Hughes break through the defensive line too easily and Scott Grix backed him up to cross the whitewash in the 32nd minute, the conversion from Brough made it a daunting 12 point lead for the Grand Final contenders.
Just when the match was threatening to get out of their reach Hull marched to the Huddersfield end of the field and Rankin cut through some uncharacteristically flat defending by the Giants to race in for his 2nd try with four minutes to the break, Sneyd added the extras to bring Hull back within six points.
With less than three minutes of the half remaining Michael Lawrence made a punishing break in the middle of the park but excellent defending held him back just short of the line.
Huddersfield were granted another chance with a scrum for a forward pass on half way, controversy then ensued as Hull were harshly penalised when Murphy seemingly dropped the ball going for the line and Logan caught the loose ball and was away with open ground in front of him, Brough converted the penalty as the hooter sounded to give a 10-18 half time score.
Hull made a fast start to the 2nd half as they found meters easy to come by on their first set and after reaching the Huddersfield red zone a grubber kick by Sneyd under the posts was missed by two Giants defenders and Josh Bowden pounced to drop on the ball, the conversion from Sneyd made it a two point ball game with less then three minutes of the half gone.
Huddersfield’s first attack of the half seemed somewhat telegraphed and the inevitable grubber by Brough close to the home line was easily snaffled by an organised defence and then a penalty granted Hull more possession and territory and a flowing move to the left saw Yeaman race in at the left corner to give the Airlie Birds the lead their start to the half deserved with eight minutes of it gone, Sneyd was unable to stretch the lead beyond two points as he pulled his touchline attempt across the face of the uprights.
Another penalty then granted the black and white’s more territory and possession but eventually Logan was forced into touch on the last tackle.
As the half wore on the enthusiasm that was so prevalent last week was again flowing through the youth of Hull as they hassled, harried and generally bullied the Giants all over the pitch and, as a result, the visitors became more and more frustrated.
Another penalty gave Hull another crack in the Huddersfield half but a knock on gave the visitors a scrum but then the Giants were put into defensive mode again with a knock on at the base of the scrum unfortunately Hull then handed possession back two plays later with yet another knock on.
Huddersfield forced the first goal line drop out as the hour approached and the Giants made it pay with another controversial decision as Jake Connor crossed in the left corner after a blatant forward pass from Aaron Murphy, Brough missed the touchline conversion to a round of boos and jeers from the home fans caused by the try.
Hull again surrendered possession in midfield but then in the ensuing set another mistake by Huddersfield led to a break and another attack but Sneyd was just stopped short as he tried to kick through the defensive line and the loose ball was snapped up by the Giants as the game continued at breakneck speed.
Huddersfield then thought they had earned some breathing space as Grix dived in at the left corner but referee Thaler ruled it out as he dropped the ball over the line with 12 minutes remaining.
As the temperature raised Hull’s youth were again going toe-to-toe with a Grand Final contender and again they weren’t looking out of place with the step up from the academy as the game ebbed and flowed from one end to the other despite persistent interruption from Mr Thaler’s whistle.
As the game entered it’s final stages Huddersfield had seemingly fallen into the same trap as Wigan the week before thinking the clash against Hull’s youngsters would be easier than it actually was and, like the Warriors the week before, they were playing for time until Super League’s top try scorer Jermaine Mcgillvary squeezed in at the right corner with two minutes left and the majestic touchline conversion from Brough wrapped up a thoroughly undeserved win.
Former FC half back Jamie Ellis then rubbed salt into very harsh wounds with the last act of the game after Brough’s grubber kick found its way through the Hull line, Brough’s conversion gave a totally undeserved gloss on a final score in a game that Hull’s youth had done themselves proud again.
After the game Giants coach Paul Anderson questioned his sides attitude and praised Hull’s young side saying, “Hull have got some bright times ahead with some of them young lads.
“I haven’t had to say anything in the changing room, Broughy’s the captain and he’s told them that effort wasn’t good enough.”
His counterpart Lee Radford was again delighted with the effort from his young players for a 2nd game on the trot and is expecting some star quality from them in the years to come.
Speaking of their step up in physicality he said: “I can’t knock their effort and they’ll continue to develop physically.”