A lacklustre display from the home side saw Huddersfield Giants run out comfortable victors yesterday at The Stoop, with the 06 – 22 score line flattering a Harlequins side struggling to inject any effective structure or shape into their play.
The signs were ominous early on, with Quins defence looking lethargic in response to early probing from the Giants attack. It was therefore almost inevitable when Chris Nero finally broke free of the cover ten minute in to surge away for the opening try. For periods of the first half it looked as if the Giants might score at will, before loose control on the final ball conspired to thwart several promising plays.
Quins struggled on and managed a couple of breaks only to find the quality of the support play or on occasion the final decision making lacking, till Julien Rinaldi finally found a killer pass to send Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook crashing over close to the sticks. A halftime score line of 6 – 6 gave Quins much to be grateful for and the home fans false hope that the second half may bring an improvement.
There was to be no significant improvement in the Quins second half performance as injuries started to take their toll on a side that has punched well above its weight in recent weeks. Shortly after the break Nero added a second try for the Giants as the visiting forwards began to impose their dominance on the game, giving a platform for their decision makers to keep Quins on the back foot. Chris Thorman playing from fullback was impressive, chiming up into the line to put in effective kicks with predictable reliability, whilst Brad Drew operating off the bench injected fresh impetus into the Giants decision making. By the time Thorman converted Steve Snitches try to make the scores 6 – 16 it looked as if the floodgates were ready to burst on Quins.
However, Quins managed to keep their nerve and again looked like they might undeservedly force themselves back into the game when the ever reliable Paul Sykes ran in a try just after the hour mark, but was unable to convert his own effort leaving the sides a single converted score apart at 10 – 16. Unlike the Giants, the Quins decision makers seemed short on mutual understanding; the talismanic Mark McLinden jinked and weaved but found little support for his efforts, whilst halves combination Danny Orr and Scott Hill appear to have completely lost any understanding they appeared to be developing early in the season.
As the second half conditions deteriorated in a rainstorm the Quins forward laboured on in workmanlike fashion, but injuries to Joe Mbu and David Mills all but nullified chances of standing-up the Giants pack. It was clear that absence of first choice back-rowers Rob Purdham and Henry Paul had blunted effectiveness, whilst the penetrating runs of injured prop Daniel Heckenberg were sorely missed.
When standoff Kevin Brown jinked his way to a try with just over ten minutes remaining it was clear that any hopes of a late revival to snatch an undeserved victory had gone. Huddersfield can take full credit for a professional performance in which they outshone their opponents in every facet of the game.
Afterwards Quins coach, Brian McDermott, seemed philosophical about the result, perhaps recognising the way in which his side has in the opinion of many over-performed in recent rounds. The loss of winger Jon Wells early in the game and the knocks to Mills and Mbu symptomatic of a side running on empty. McDermott will no doubt be glad of a weekend off, in which to reassess the damage to his increasingly threadbare squad and regroup for the visit of championship contenders Leeds Rhinos on the 5th August.
Harlequins RL: (6) 10
Tries: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Smith
Huddersfield: (6) 22
Tries: Nero 2, Snitch, Brown
Goals: Thorman 3