By PATRICK MOORE
Huddersfield RU ended 2016 on a high as they continued their unbeaten run with a resounding 38-3 victory over Kendal.
Two tries from Danny Grainger and another 100% record from Chris Bell’s boot helped the cause as Field ran in their 15th straight league win of the season
And they take a 10-point gap at the top of National III North into the Christmas break.
Head coach Gareth Lewis was forced into making a change to his team before the match with Tom Owen injured, and he was replaced by winger Elliot Knight, who moved to his preferred position as Brandon Conway covered at inside centre.
It was a decision that reaped rewards in another awesome defensive display by the best team in the league.
“It is a great end to the year,” said Lewis.
“It was a bit of a stop-start game, particularly in the start to the second half where we never really got going.
“I also thought there were some very questionable decisions from the referee, who didn’t allow the game to flow for both sides. That was frustrating, but with 11 minutes to go we managed to get that bonus point, which was our priority beforehand.”
It was a slow start to the match by both sides, yet Huddersfield always looked stronger than their opponents, and the home side often looked at Bell to gain territory with his impressive kicking range.
Kendal had the first real chance but their drop goal attempt was miserable.
Knock-ons were to become a regularity for the away side as they squandered possession with the Huddersfield pack hitting well, and after Ben Morrill broke Field were soon awarded a penalty which Bell put over with ease (3-0).
Huddersfield had to be patient to add to their lead and after another dominant period of possession, a line break by Elliot Hodgson fed Grainger, who escaped the Kendal defence and ran free for a converted try (10-0).
A lot of high tackles went unnoticed as Kendal started to grow into the contest and they looked to be in when Glenn Weightman ran free, but two successive tackles from Nick Rhodes forced them back and he had to settle for a later penalty to get his side on the scoreboard (10-3).
That was to be their first and last moment of joy, though, and after a quiet period Hodgsoh produced magic with a wonder try.
Following a lineout, the ball was moved quickly from left to right and when the winger looked to have been tackled, he managed to escape around the back to skip past the Kendal pack before dodging another few players to go on and turn the last defender inside out to go under the posts (17-3).
Hodgson’s brilliant try sparked new life into a Field side which didn’t seem to be at their best, but following a mistake by Kendal’s Dini Noyo, who was their main threat, the ball was worked out wide to Grainger who left the Kendal defence for dead with his pace, and Bell converted before the half time whistle (24-3).
Chances were a rarity in the second half as Lewis brought on his bench (Lewis Bradley, Austen Thompson and Callum Thompson for Adam Malthouse, Ben Hoyle and Reuben Pollard) to add some fresh legs to a tired Field side.
Alex Battye knocked on a good chance but made up for it when he scored a converted try following a driving maul to secure all five points (31-3).
And Hodgson had the last say following good play from Conway and Lewis Workman to easily go over (38-3).
Lewis saved special praise to Knight who answered his call-up with a top performance: “It shows that the lads who are playing well for the Falcons will get their chance.
“He deserves it and he did really well every time he took the ball. He carried with purpose and recycled well so he did himself proud.”
With the perfect 15 start to the season, Lewis had one thing on his mind to kick-start the well-deserved Christmas break.
“Go out and get lashed!” laughed Lewis. “We’ll have a little break. I think physically and mentally there are a few tired bodies.
“We just need to enjoy ourselves but not forget about the job in hand.
“We’ll train in between Christmas and the New Year to keep things ticking over so that we’re ready for Billingham once we return.”