Four tries from Jermaine McGillvary helped Huddersfield Giants end a run of six straight losses as they saw off Hull FC 40-26 in Thursday’s Super League match.
McGillvary’s first-half double, plus tries from Nathan Peats, Luke Yates and another from teenage hotshot Will Pryce saw the Giants lead 22-16 after a see-saw first 40 minutes at the John Smith’s Stadium.
England winger McGillvary added two more after the break to take the game beyond the Black and Whites, despite Mitieli Vulikijapani scoring his first two tries for the club, while Leroy Cudjoe capped his 300th Giants appearance with the try which put the seal on the win inside the final 10 minutes.
However, the game ended on a sour note as Josh Jones and Andre Savelio were dismissed for exchanging blows on the final play of the match.
Huddersfield shrugged off the absence of 10 first-teamers to win for the first time without marquee player Aidan Sezer, who is currently sidelined through injury and on his way to Leeds Rhinos for 2022.
Head coach Ian Watson was forced to turn to inexperienced duo Pryce and Oliver Russell in the absence of Sezer and other first-choice half-backs Lee Gaskell and Jack Cogger and will be thrilled with their contribution to their side’s resounding triumph.
It was sweet revenge for the Giants’ 12-10 defeat at the KCOM Stadium a month ago, which was Hull’s last outing, and provided an early birthday present for owner Ken Davy, the interim Super League chairman who turns 80 on Monday.
While the Black and Whites looked distinctly rusty after their lay-off, Huddersfield were battle-hardened and energetic from the start.
Hull had 19-year-old stand-off Ben McNamara starting his first game for three months in the Covid-enforced absence of Josh Reynolds and he had a hand in the opening try, working the ball out for Savelio to get centre Carlos Tuimavave in at the corner.
Huddersfield led 10-0 in the away fixture and opened up a 10-6 lead after Pryce and Chris McQueen worked McGillvary over for his first try and hooker Nathan Peats dived over from dummy half for his first for the club.
The game briefly swung the visitors’ way when scrum-half Marc Sneyd’s hoisted kicks produced two tries in 10 minutes, highlighting McGillvary’s fallibility under the high ball.
Former British Army rugby union Vulikijapani out-jumped him for the first while centre Mahe Fonua palmed the ball back for second-rower Jordan Lane to touch down.
Watson reacted by getting McGillvary and Louis Senior to swap wings and it paid off when the England man won the race to Russell’s kick to the corner to claim his second try.
Before then, another Russell kick created the position for prop Luke Yates to touch down for his first try for the club and 18-year-old Pryce sliced clean through the Hull defence for a solo score.
Unfortunately for the Giants, Russell managed to convert only one of his side’s five first-half tries but they extended their advantage early in the second half when McGillvary raced onto Pryce’s kick to complete his hat-trick.
This time Russell kicked the conversion from the touchline to open up a 28-16 lead and Hull found themselves a man down after 55 minutes when prop Ligi Sao was sin-binned for a high tackle on Sam Hewitt.
Vulikijapani pounced on a handling error by Cudjoe to score his second try but Huddersfield were simply irresistible by then and McGillvary took Russell’s long, looping pass to cut inside for his fourth try.
Centre Cudjoe then strolled through a tiring Hull defence and Russell kicked his fourth goal before prop Chris Satae plunged over for a consolation try three minutes from the end, with Sneyd kicking his third conversion.
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