Steve McNamara hailed gutsy Richie Hawkyard after the plasterer put in a hard day's work - and then made his Super League debut.

The injury-hit Bulls lost 36-12 against red-hot Huddersfield Giants tonight but McNamara refused to criticise his battling team.

They were without seven regulars, forcing him to thrust in a raft of rookies for the live televised showdown - including the remarkable part-time scrum half.

McNamara said: "I can't fault Richie Hawkyard whatsoever. We gave the kid a call on Wednesday night, he managed to get a day off Thursday so he could train but he had to work today.

"Richie's a really tough kid. He carried a couple of kick-offs back to their big fellas, was really brave and he's done tremendously well under the circumstances."

McNamara admits with the club's injury crisis on-going - Iestyn Harris and Lesley Vainikolo limped off at the Galpharm Stadium - 21-year-old Hawkyard will feature more.

"He probably will play again - and we'll try to get him two days off this week!" said the coach.

The Bulls were 24-0 down at the interval after clinical Huddersfield showed just why they are the form team in Super League.

They finished off with their ninth straight victory and finally ended their woeful record against Bradford.

It had been nearly three decades since Huddersfield last defeated their derby rivals but they capitalised on an under-strength visiting side to halt the slide.

Jon Sharp's troops were bottom after seven rounds without a single win but are now up into fourth, just once place behind Bradford and looking real play-off contenders.

Vainikolo departed in the second half with a groin strain but McNamara played down speculation it could have been the Volcano's last match before his move to Gloucester.

He insisted: "It'd take wild horses to stop Les playing in a Bradford shirt again. Iestyn picked up a hamstring injury as well but fingers crossed we'll get them back for next week."

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