Huddersfield RUFC secured their 17th consecutive league win in a 31-7 bonus point victory over Hull at Lockwood Park.
Tries from Brandon Conway, Joel Hinchliffe, Elliot Hodgson and Nick Sharpe helped the Field pullfurther ahead in National League Three North, and with second-placed Rossendale’s match at Cleckheaton called off, it was another very pleasing afternoon for Gareth Lewis.
Although not the prettiest of matches, Huddersfield did what they had to do to keep their unbeaten run intact and a powerful start, followed by another display of resolute team defending, was enough to brush aside a Hull outfit who were on a five-match win streak of their own.
After a late inspection on the icy surface, winger James Kirk looked shaky under the first ball and Huddersfield soon dominated against Hull, who were looking for revenge after being put to the sword 45-10 earlier in the season.
A scrum on the 22m line led to a penalty, with an away forward alleged to have broken off early, and Chris Bell made no mistake to put the ball between the sticks and the first points on the scoreboard.
With the away side looking to make an immediate response, they were soon stopped in their tracks thanks to Lewis Bradley’s good hit which forced them back, and once in possession Bell’s classy weighted kick put Hull back under pressure and a scrum was won in a good position.
As has been the case for the entire season, Field’s strong scrummage paid dividends when Hinchliffe worked the ball out and a perfectly-timed run from Bell fed Brandon Conway, who ran in with ease. Bell converted well (10-0).
A knock-on from Hull soon had Huddersfield in the ascendancy again, and another strong scrum led to another converted try for the Field, this time Hinchliffe going over for a deserved try of his own. (17-0).
Huddersfield could have gone further ahead after another good kick from Bell wrong-footed opposing fly half Chris Harding, but Danny Grainger just couldn’t get to the ball on the slippery pitch.
And that gave the initiative to Hull, who did well to find gaps in the Field’s pack and they went over, with Harding adding the extras (17-7).
The hosts, though, were resolute in their response and after a good carry from Frances Entressengle, Elliot Hodgson went over from a powerful break.
Bell kept his 100 per cent record before the half-time whistle as the first period ended 24-7 to the confident home side.
For the third match in a row, Lewis’ side managed to keep their opposition pointless in the second half, but it was perhaps a little unexpected that his own side didn’t secure the bonus point until the last few minutes of the game, coming through solid number eight Sharpe.
And it was maybe even more unexpected after the first attack of the half which nearly saw Huddersfield run in a try when Hodgson was caught in his tracks.
Elliot Knight, a half-time replacement for Danny Grainger, was called upon twice and he answered with two magnificent tackles to keep Hull at bay, and when Bell was injured Grainger came back onto the field.
Huddersfield struggled without their kicker, but still managed to get a deserved bonus point.
With the Field faithful urging their team to get another try, Harding was sent to the sin-bin and Huddersfield took full advantage of their extra man, again through another scrum with Sharpe surging over next to the posts.
Hinchliffe provided sufficient cover as he put the ball over (31-7).
Coach Gareth Lewis said after the game: “The boys defended incredibly well in a 10-minute spell where Hull looked dangerous.
“They were aggressive as a team and really disciplined as a team so that was really pleasing as they came through that period of play unscathed.
“It just shows Belly’s value to the team that when he came off the field we struggled with our exit strategies and game management.
“As coaches, we need to work on that. I thought Lewis Workman stepped in and did really well but perhaps we need to practise with him a bit more in training if that scenario happens again.”
Huddersfield now face a designated catch-up weekend, which means it’s a well-deserved break for the team sitting comfortably at the summit of National League Three North.
Lewis said: “The week off couldn’t have come at a better time. Tom Owen struggled with his groin a bit and Bell has hyperextended his arm, one or two are carrying injuries so it gives us the opportunities to rest and recover and get ready for our next game.
“We are going to continue to work hard on our own performances.
“We have a rest week next week and then Firwood Waterloo away where we will prepare with full focus.”