There were no more important round twenty-three fixtures than the basement four pointer between Hull Kingston Rovers and the Huddersfield Giants who had Friday night all to themselves as they went head-to-head to go four points clear of bottom club London Broncos.
KR had a massive win last weekend when they went to Headingley and took the points off the Leeds Rhinos, while the Giants lost out by a narrow four point margin at home to the Catalans Dragons.
KR are looking as though they will be without Matt Parcell for the remainder of the season but Danny Addy was back in the line-up. The Giants had Adam Walne back in contention for the first time since March, and Matty English was also back after being rested last weekend.
The Giants were looking for their third win over KR in 2019 but this was a different Ribins side under the stewardship of ex-Giants coach Tony Smith.
Making the most of three consecutive penalties, and two wiped clean tackle counts, Hull KR opened the scoring when Kane Linnett grounded a Josh Drinkwater grubber kick into the in-foal area. Craig Hall kicked the conversion between the uprights.
On eleven minutes the Giants opened their account when Matty English went through a gap to dive full length and ground a Adam O’Brien grubber kick from two metres out. Darnell McIntosh added the conversion to level the scores.
There were some big hit-ups, but plenty of mistakes, and little confidence on show. Neither side looked like adding to their solitary first half try and the sides went into the interval after twenty-nine pointless minutes tied up at 6-6.
Three minutes into the second half Jimmy Keinhorst appeared to have grounded a stripped ball and the referee ruled out the try for a knock on. Instead of Hull it was the Giants who went ahead when Alex Mellor took a Lee Gaskell pass and stretched for the line to ground. McIntosh was unable to add the extras from close to the sticks.
McIntosh had the chance to make amends on fifty, kicking a penalty goal from under the uprights for 12-6.
After Harrison put in a high shot on Kruise Leeming on the hour mark, McIntosh kicked another penalty goal to make the Giants lead into eight points.
A seventy-third minute try from Craig Hall, sprinting the last ten metres down the left wing off a long Danny McGuire pass, set up a grandstand finish to the game. Hall added the conversion from close to the touchline and it was a two point ball game.
The Giants sealed the win with three minutes remaining when Jermiane McGillvary dived on a Gaskell kick to the corner to get his hands on the ball as Hall tried to kick the ball dead. McIntosh was unable to add the conversion, the Giants 18-12 ahead.
KR finished the game on the attack, with two scrums deep in the Giants half in the last minute, but they couldn’t get over the line in spite of the panic football that they were playing.
It was a poor game between two sides who are down on their luck and scrapping for every point at the bottom ofthe table. It was the Giants who picked up the all important two points to go four points clear of the drop zone and up into eighth after going ahead of Wakefield Trinity following their heavy loss last night. Tony Smith will know that his side still have a lot of heacy lifting to do if they are to avoid a drop into the Championship.
KR: Quinlan, Hall (T, 2G), Keinhorst, Linnett (T), Crooks, McGuire, Drinkwater, Mulhern, Addy, Murray, Hauraki, Tomkins, Lawler. Subs: Garbutt, Masoe, Atkin, Harrison.
Giants: Senior L, McGillvary (T), McIntosh (3G), Wardle, Senior I, Gaskell, Holmes, Walne, O’Brien, English (T), Ta’ai. Mellor (T), Lawrence. Subs: Leeming, Wilson, Murphy, Matagi.
Referee: Ben Thaler.