By Patrick Moore
Huddersfield RU stormed to their 14th consecutive league win and progressed to the next round of the Yorkshire Cup with a controlled 41-15 victory over Doncaster Phoenix.
Elliot Hodgson’s hat trick, along with two tries from Lewis Workman and another 100% record from the boot of Chris Bell helped the Field take maximum National III North points at Castle Park.
It was a comfortable assignment for coach Gareth Lewis’s side in a match which doubled as a league and cup fixture.
The Field showed they was a class above as their forwards were stronger at the scrummage and the backs smarter attacking wise – and Doncaster’s youthful outfit were put to their seventh loss in a row.
W atch Huddersfield in warm-up mode:
“I’m really pleased of how we managed the game,” said Lewis.
“They were a little bit depleted by all accounts, but our phase play was really good and our defence was strong.
“As the game progressed, I thought we got a bit loose. I also thought the referee policed the breakdown quite poorly.
“He could have given one or two more yellow cards. But overall I thought we defended well, so it’s happy days.”
Not for the first time this season, Huddersfield weathered their opponent’s early storm as Doncaster started on top, but as soon as they turned over possession they forced a penalty which Bell knocked over (3-0).
Doncaster responded well, and from the restart Huddersfield knocked on and were penalised for offside as Jay Robinson levelled proceedings (3-3).
Finally getting into their attacking mode, a big break from November Player of the Month Tom Owen led to Doncaster’s James Wright being sin-binned, and the Field took full advantage of the extra man by scoring two converted tries with his absence.
After Bell’s penalty regained the lead, Nick Rhodes did well to recover possession after an original breakdown and good hands from the back line worked the ball out to Workman, who decided to go over on his own with men either side (13-3).
And it was Rhodes again who charged down Doncaster on the next break and a perfectly-timed offload from Owen left Hodgson with time and space to hit the whitewash (20-3).
Firmly on top, a smart grubber kick from Bell met Workman who made no mistake to get his second try of the day (27-3).
But it was Doncaster who had the last say on the half when, with slight suspicions of crossing, Wright went under the sticks for an easy converted try (27-10 to Field).
That wasn’t to affect the unbeaten Field as they re-emerged for the second half, and although they lost possession from their first attack, they were through as Hodgson intercepted impressively with one hand and ran free for a converted try (34-10).
And the ex-Giants man was at it again to complete his hat trick when Bell turned over possession inside his own half – feeding Hodgson who left the Doncaster defence for dead with his pace (41-10).
With the bonus point firmly in the bag, Huddersfield resorted to their defence to see out the remainder of the game.
They were, though, dealt a minor blow when Bell had to be taken off with an injury after Brandon Conway had already gone off earlier on in the first half.
Still, the Field coped well with their key absentees and Danny Grainger thought he scored a well-worked try, but the referee penalised a forward pass to the wing.
Doncaster’s effort to never give up was rewarded when full back Dan Porter scored a late try after a missed tackle, but it won’t take away any shine from another classy display by the league leaders, who showed they were on another level.
Lewis said: “We struggled a bit at our exits when Bell came off.
“We kept inviting pressure on ourselves, but we defended well for the last 10 to 15 minutes to preserve our lead.”
Hodgson’s try tally now stands at 19 in all competitions, and Lewis has said he is loving the current form.
He said: “Hodgy was gloating a bit at the end with the lads, it’s getting a bit boring!
“In seriousness, though, he took them all very well and he’s playing exceptionally this season – he’s a top-class player.
“We just need to avoid any complacency. There’s a few tired bodies out there. I think they know that break is in sight, but we just need one more big effort before Christmas and hopefully come out with another win.”