CULBURRA Beach’s Adam Quinlan and his Hull Kingston Rovers racked up 38 unanswered points on their way to a much-needed win over the Huddersfield Giants, but it was their defensive efforts that were key to the result.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
Rovers fell behind early to a fast-starting Huddersfield side, who converted back-to-back sets into the opening points of the night after just seven minutes.
Dale Ferguson’s half-break led to a penalty for offside against the Robins’ defence, and after Danny Brough’s grubber forced a drop-out, the half-back’s short ball put Oliver Roberts over on the last tackle.
Brough converted, but the Red and Whites soon hit back through a stylish score from Andrew Heffernan after Rob Mulhern’s strong carry drew a penalty for interference.
Rovers looked to attack direct from the tap, Chris Atkin took the ball back to the short side, finding Adam Quinlan, and the full-back’s neat pass sent his centre through a hole.
Heffernan beat Sam Wood and Ryan Hinchcliffe, then danced past Jordan Rankin to slide over in front of the ecstatic travelling Rovers fans.
The home side looked stunned, and the Robins quickly went back-to-back after a fantastic set from the restart started by a big Mose Masoe charge.
Justin Carney, Mulhern and Ben Kavanagh weighed in with more powerful running to carry Rovers fully 60 metres downfield, allowing Danny McGuire to attack down the right again.
Chris Clarkson’s beautiful soft pass allowed Heffernan to beat Brough on the outside, and Quinlan was backing up to score.
Ryan Shaw slotted over both conversions, and another strong run from Masoe off the kick-off could, and perhaps should have drawn another penalty for the Robins after Hinchcliffe was placed on report for twisting the prop’s arm.
The home side looked for a response, but two big tackles from Shaw and Maurice Blair forced Ferguson and Roberts to spill possession on Rovers’ try line.
The latter allowed Thomas Minns to break away to set up another attack, and although Aaron Murphy got a hand in to knock-down, Hinchcliffe was penalised for interference and Shaw took the points on offer.
The introduction of James Donaldson after almost a year out visibly lifted the Robins again, and after he was held up just short of the line, the ball was quickly rippled to the right.
McGuire’s deep pass allowed Quinlan to beat the Giants’ rushing defence, and the full-back trickled a lovely kick through for Shaw to dot down.
The winger added the conversion from the sideline, and there was still time for McGuire to slice a drop-goal attempt wide after a great kick-chase from Heffernan and Shaw forced a goal-line restart in the final minute of the half.
Trailing by 14 points at the break, the home side needed to be the first scorers in the second half, but the Robins’ defensive effort was outstanding as they saw off no less than seven consecutive sets of pressure, and held Paul Clough up over the line.
When Huddersfield did finally create some space on Rovers’ line, referee Ben Thaler pulled them up for a block on Minns by Hinchcliffe, and when another spell of Giants pressure came to nought through the block of a Jordan Rankin grubber, the Robins landed a decisive blow in some style.
The deflected kick fell kindly for Mulhern, who took off like a winger, racing fully 80 metres and fending off Brough for good measure before breaking Jermaine McGillvary’s tackle and popping the ball up for James Greenwood to stroll over.
Shaw converted, and even when the home side recovered possession from a short restart, Rovers refused to buckle as Lawler snapped up a dangerous Brough grubber.
The travelling Rovers fans were loving their side’s display, as the two smallest men on the field – Atkin and Quinlan – combined to hold up Ukuma Ta’ai.
The points were secure, but the Red and Whites finished with a flourish in the final ten minutes, soaking up yet more Huddersfield pressure before Quinlan carved their left side open, putting Heffernan away, and Shaw was on hand to grab his second of the night.
Then two minutes from time, McGuire grabbed his first try of his Rovers career when his cut-out ball set Shaw away. Quinlan was in support, and McGuire popped up alongside him to slide over for the Robins’ sixth try.
Shaw added both goals to finish with a personal haul of 22 points, and send the travelling army of Rovers fans back down the M62 in joyous mood.
“We were a bit scratchy in the opening few minutes, but we led well at half-time on the back of 100% completion. I’ve never coached a side with 100% completion in a half of football before,” Rovers coach Tim Sheens said.
“We are still losing a few tackles and the penalty count, but we are going to enjoy the win.
“We scrambled well in defence, especially in the middle part of the game when the score was still in the balance and we defended seven sets consecutively.
“Things seemed to have clicked a bit more this week.
“The short side play for Andrew Heffernan from the tap is something we have practiced and it came off.
“That sparked us up and we went on to play some good football after that.”
The Rovers next play St Helens at KCOM Craven Stadium on Friday, Match 23.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.