Hull KR 22-23 Huddersfield: Giants secure Super League status for 2017
Last Updated: 24/09/16 5:23pm
A Danny Brough drop goal handed Huddersfield a dramatic 23-22 win over Hull KR to secure their Super League status for 2017.
Brough's decisive one-pointer came in the 73rd minute, but the game went down to the wire after the Robins' Terry Campese saw his drop goal effort hit the post four minutes later, and then Thomas Minns had a try ruled out with just over a minute remaining when the touch judge spotted a push from Campese in the build-up.
The win means the Giants finish the Qualifiers in third place, and join Leeds and Leigh as the three teams who gain automatic Super League status for 2017.
Hull KR now wait to find out who they will play in the Million Pound game, with Salford the likely opponents next Saturday.
Amid the late drama, Ryan Brierley's first-half heroics for Huddersfield were almost forgotten. It was the Brierley show from the sixth minute when the former Leigh favourite intercepted a pass from Campese to sprint 60 metres for his first try, with Danny Brough kicking the first of his three goals.
Rovers' offload game began to cause Huddersfield some problems, though, and after forcing two goal-line drop-outs in quick succession, the pressure told when second rower Maurice Blair forced his way over out wide.
Josh Mantellato was unable to add the goal and the home side suffered a blow midway through the first half when second rower James Greenwood was forced off with a leg injury, prompting an early introduction for Jamie Peacock.
Playing sensible, no-nonsense rugby, the Giants then took a firm grip on the game thanks largely to the efforts of Brierley, who made the break for centre Leroy Cudjoe to touch down and then finished off a neat handling move involving skipper Ryan Hinchcliffe and Ukuma Ta'ai.
Brough's third goal made it 18-4 and Hull KR's fortunes were dealt a crucial blow after half-an-hour when full-back Ben Cockayne was sin-binned for laying on in the tackle.
Huddersfield immediately made the extra man count by working winger Aaron Murphy over for their fourth try of the first half to make it 22-4.
Rovers substitute Will Jubb had a try disallowed for a knock-on just before the break but the home side hauled themselves back into it after dominating the opening stages of the second half.
Two more goal-line drop-outs put the Giants' defence under pressure and it cracked to allow in winger Ken Sio after 48 minutes while prop Mitch Allgood pounced for his side's third try after the visitors failed to deal with Matty Marsh's grubber kick to the line.
Mantellato kicked both conversions to trim Huddersfield's lead to six points and, after Brough hit an upright with a penalty attempt, it was quickly all square.
Jermaine McGillvary committed the ultimate sin of allowing the ball to bounce following Blair's high kick and prop Allgood followed up to touch down and Mantellato's third goal locked up the scores to set up the tense finale.
Brough slotted the drop in the closing stages of the game before the Giants were forced to frenetically defend the final push from the Rovers, before the relief of the final whistle.