TRADITIONALLY, whenever props talk about going 80 metres for a try, you know there is a sense of exaggeration involved – it is more likely eight at a push.
However, remarkably, Hull KR’s Robbie Mulhern almost did the former last night to crucially help secure a vital win for his team, only their second since returning to the top-flight.
Rovers, seething after a raft of decisions went against them in Perpignan on Saturday, led 20-6 from the interval and had stoically defended their goalline for large periods of the second period.
Woeful Huddersfield, in fairness, had been utterly one-dimensional, never better illustrated than when Jordan Rankin’s tame kick went straight to Mulhern just 10m from his own line in the 64th minute.
The former Leeds Rhinos prop, who hails from South Elmsall near Pontefract, set off on his sprint and not only swatted aside the chasing Danny Brough but then stepped out of England winger Jermaine McGillvary’s tackle to find James Greenwood who dived over.
Rovers captain Shaun Lunt recently tipped Mulhern for England honours but for all his forward strength, not this.
The ruthless visitors had destroyed Huddersfield’s left-edge all evening and, now with breathing space, there was still time for them to raid twice more, winger Ryan Shaw claiming his second try after a fine break from the excellent Andrew Heffernan and then Danny McGuire, with his first try for the Robins, rounding things off.
It was Rovers’ biggest-ever winning margin over their Yorkshire rivals in the Super League era and – after four losses in their opening five games – came at the perfect time for Tim Sheens’ side who host leaders St Helens next Friday. Furthermore, they saw a welcome return for James Donaldson, the energetic back-row playing his first game for them since requiring a third knee cruciate operation last Easter.
Huddersfield were embarrassing at times and things will only get tougher at Wigan next Friday.
KR took control with two tries in two minutes during the opening quarter, a perfect response after going behind to Oliver Roberts’ own early effort.
It was Rovers’ biggest-ever winning margin over their Yorkshire rivals in the Super League era
Huddersfield had, in fact, had all the initial pressure despite the surprise omission of full-back Jake Mamo, Brough carrying on where he left off at Widnes with a series of probing kicks.
He forced a drop-out and, from there, ushered Ireland star Roberts over with a perfectly-timed pass. Rovers did not get any decent attacking position until they earned a first penalty but how they made it pay.
With a quality set-move from the tap penalty 20m out, Chris Atkin switched the ball back to the shortside.
There, Adam Quinlan linked, finding Heffernan, the centre who showed terrific footwork to bemuse three defenders on his way to the line.
It was superbly well-orchestrated and executed effort and there was more of the same in the next set as Justin Carney set Rovers off with a strong carry.
Soon, his side were over halfway and there they targeted Huddersfield’s vulnerable left edge once more, this time Chris Clarkson’s short pass unleashing Heffernan, Quinlan arriving on his inside shoulder to score.
Shaw improved both tries and Giants were in trouble in other ways soon after when Ryan Hinchcliffe was put on report for an alleged ‘chicken wing’ tackle on Mose Masoe.
They regathered themselves enough to create an opportunity of their own but Dale Ferguson – again one of their better players last night – coughed up under crucial pressure from Shaw as Adam O’Brien darted blind on the last tackle.
Hooker O’Brien frustrated Brough and Lee Gaskell, though, when he ignored both his half-backs to try another raid on the shortside.
His pass went to ground and Brough was needed to chase back and deny Thomas Minns as the Hull KR centre raced away.
Hinchcliffe, the experienced former Melbourne Storm loose forward, should have known better when conceding a penalty on Masoe which gifted Shaw another two points. But he wasn’t the only one out of sorts; McGillvary spilled when bringing the ball away from near his own line to hand Rovers another shot before the break.
They took it, showing a real clinical tough; Masoe stood and spun for Atkin to find McGuire and, with Huddersfield’s wide defence rushing in, the former Leeds captain just squeezed his grubber away in time.
It was Shaw who picked up amid all the space to score in the 36th minute, converting from wide out, before McGuire’s kicking skills were to the fore again when he arrowed a perfect downfield kick for the chasing Shaw to trap Quinlan behind his own line.
There wasn’t enough time to capitalise from that drop-out but, by the end, emphatic Rovers certainly had.
Huddersfield Giants: Rankin; McGillvary, Turner, Wood, Murphy; Gaskell, Brough; Ikahihifo, O’Brien, Ta’ai,Roberts, Ferguson, Hinchcliffe. Substitutes: Leeming, Clough, Dickinson, Mellor.
Hull KR: Quinlan; Shaw, Heffernan, Minns, Carney; McGuire, Atkin; Mulhern, Lawler, Masoe, Clarkson, Blair, Kavanagh. Substitutes: Scruton, Lee, Donaldson, Greenwood.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield)