By Patrick Moore
Huddersfield RU made it 12 wins in a row with a stunning 62-13 victory at Cleckheaton.
Despite foggy conditions over the M62, Gareth Lewis’s side scored eight tries and kept their neighbours scoreless throughout the second half as they remained six points clear in National III North.
The Field were forced to make a late change as Danny Grainger went in for Elliot Hodgson, who was ill, and it was Cleckheaton who drew first blood when Neil Chivers put over an early penalty.
Huddersfield were forced to work hard to get back in the game, and after Chris Bell uncharacteristically missed a penalty to level scores, it paid dividends when centre Tom Owen hit the whitewash.
Bell added lovely from the conversion, and did the same thing after Joel Hinchliffe scored a try following powerful play from a lineout inside the Cleckheaton 22.
But the home side weren’t blown over so easily, and Chivers added his second penalty to close the gap.
The Field stepped up a gear, though, and Bell grabbed a penalty of his own before converting Nick Sharpe’s try from a scrum.
And when Ryan Piercy was sin-binned for Cleckheaton, full back Lewis Workman had time and space to go in once Austen Thompson looped a pass over which he always going to take.
It was Cleckheaton, however, who had the last say before the half time whistle as Luke Pearson split the Huddersfield centres and went under the sticks for Chivers to add the extras with ease.
That was the first try the Field had conceded in three matches, and with the weather getting worse, the pitch hardly visible from one side to the other, they responded well at the restart as they camped in their opposition’s half for the most part.
See pictures from Huddersfield's win at Cleckheaton:
Bell added a penalty despite a few errors, and it wasn’t long until Conway grabbed a converted try.
Sharpe went under the sticks and, from the restart, a massive hit from Lewis Bradley paved way for Ben Hoyle to chase a kick for a seventh converted try.
Conway, as clinical as ever, had the last say with his second try of the day as the Field wrapped up the five-point win, much to the delight of head coach Lewis.
“I thought the boys played very well again, so there’s not many complaints,” said Lewis.
More action from the derby:
“The inter-linking between the forwards and the backs, our scrummage and set pieces were strong and it provided the platform.
“The conditions made it a little bit difficult for the full backs, but that’s what English rugby is like in the depths of winter.
“We moved the ball with pace into the wide channels and looked threatening in all areas of the field.”
His side now face second-placed Rossendale, who made it 10 wins in a row with an 89-12 victory against Firwood Waterloo, in a match poised to be a cracker at Lockwood Park.
“Rossendale will be streetwise, they’ve had players who have been in and around National I for a long time,” said Lewis.
“They’re an experienced, physical team who put more than 80 past Firwood Waterloo, so we know the threat they will pose. It will be a huge challenge but it’s exciting and the boys
will be chomping at the bit.”
And with captain Alex Battye and Adam Malthouse playing for the Falcons, Elliot Hodgson not involved through illness and Adam Tamanis, who could return from injury, all hoping to start next weekend, Lewis admits he has a huge selection headache.
“Even in the last five minutes, myself and Phil Gosling were talking about selection headaches,” he said.
“Those four lads are on top of the 18 involved (against Cleckheaton), and there are only 18 places available.
“We’ll see how training goes this week, and then select the team who can do well against Rossendale.”