Huddersfield Giants welcomed Hull FC to the John Smith’s Stadium, with a place in the Betfred Challenge Cup semi-finals at stake.
Both teams had won four and lost two of their preceding six games, with today’s winners joining Hull KR and St Helens at Leeds United’s Elland Road ground on 7 May, alongside the winners of Sunday’s tie between Wakefield Trinity and Wigan Warriors.
Rain started falling onto the pitch as Huddersfield started the game with the ball, but gave it away when Theo Fages kicked on the fifth tackle, having missed referee Liam Moore's call signallig a set restart and anaother six tackles.
Mistakes meant the Fartowners went for the opening five minutes without completing a set - and nerves, plus the rain, were clearly getting the best of both team when the Black and Whites forced a goal-lin drop out and dropped the ball from the kick.
The home team promptly marched up field and Ricky Leutele beat two defenders to get the ball down in the left corner despite the Airlie Birds' attentions. Tui Lolohea converted from the touchline and Huddersfield led 6-0 despite their stuttering start.
They came close to scoring again on the quarter hour as the right edge took advantage of a temporary advantage in numbers to keep passing the ball out and then back in - but the kick through that ended the set was knocked dead and they had to be content with a repeat set. A pair of Hull knock-ons kept posession with the Giants in the Hull 20m zone for successive sets, followed by a penalty pretty much in front of the posts for a high tackle.
Unsurprisingly, Lolohea opted to kick for goal and slotted it through to take their lead out to 8-0.
Ash Golding nearly took the lead even further after a super break up field following an intercept, but the final pass out to the winger was forward.
After 25 minutes of Huddersf'ield dominance though, Hull started to impose them themselves, forcing a goal-line drop-out with a superb passage of play At the end of the following set, substitute Josh Reynolds kicked a grubber through to the in-goal behind the Huddersfield line for Manu Ma'u to run onto and score. Luke Gale converted for an 8-6 score.
Just a minute later, though Lolohea put his own attacking kick behind the FC line and second rower Chris McQueen grounded it to take the score to 12-6. Lolohea's goal kick then movedthe margin on to 14-6.
The Giants continued to press in the run-up to half time and were rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts on 39 minutes, which Lolohea duly kicked to take a 16-6 lead into the dressing rooms at the break.
When the teams returned, the Hull defence dominated until Andre Savelio received a pass in front of scattered Huddersfield defenders, span and ran through for the half's first try. Gale kicked the conversion attempt to bring the visitors within four points at 16-12.
The Black and Whites nearly equalised after 52 minutes when Theo Fages juggled the ball and lost it to Josh Griffin, who raced free only to lose it himself when tackled with the tryline just two metres in front of him.
But it was the home team who troubled the scoreboard next on 62 minutes. Loose forward Luke Yates broke the line and ran 20m befoe offloading the ball to Lolohea who raced clear to dot the ball down under the posts and then convert his own try. The score now read 22-12 to the Giants with less 20 minutes of the game left.
Hull pressed to close the gap with an intense 10 minutes of play, but failed to cross the line. Though when Huddersfiel had their next clear attacking opportunity after a scrum on half way, the FC defence did firm, but lost Savelio to a knee injury.
Then they gave away a penalty for a dangerous tackle, 30m out. The metronomic Lolahea kicked his sixth goal of the night and took the gap to two converted tries with just over five minutes to go.
And that gap was needed when former Giant Darnell McIntosh ran down Hull's right wing and scored the try that narrowe the gap again to 24-26. But Gale's kick when across the face of the posts and they were still two tries behind at 24-16.
Despite frantic efforts by Hull over the remaining two minutes or so, they never looked like scoring and the final score stayed where it was.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 8-0, 8-4, 8-6, 12-6 14-6, 16-6. HT: 16-10, 16-12, 20-12, 22-12, 24-12, 24-16. FT.
Huddersfield Giants: Lolohea (T, 3G, 2P); Golding, Cudjoe, Leutele (T), Senior; Cogger, Fages; Hill, Levi, Wilson, Jones, McQueen (T), Yates. Subs: Greenwood, Ikahihifo, Lawrence, English.
Hull FC: Connor; Swift, Vulikijapani, Griffin, McIntosh (T); Lovodua, Gale; (2G) Sao, Houghton, Satae, Ma’u (T), Savelio (T), Brown. Subs: Reynolds, Evans, Fash, Johnstone.
Referee: Liam Moore
Venue: John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield