Billingham 7-47 Huddersfield
Huddersfield RU started 2017 with a bang as they made lightwork of a 47-7 win against Billingham. Two tries each from the impressive Lewis Bradley and Brandon Conway, along with Austen Thompson, Alex Battye and Elliot Hodgson helped Gareth Lewis’ side to their 16th straight win in a row in a convincing afternoon in the Teesside.
And with Rossendale only managing a 17-10 score against Morley, the Field’s bonus point victory puts them eleven points ahead at the top of the National North Three.
“It’s a good start to the New Year with another convincing win,” said Lewis. “If I’m honest, I thought we were a little bit rusty and we spent a lot of time without the ball.”
“And we had to defend for long periods, especially when Brandon got sin binned, without the ball but yet again we showed our fitness. Once we got into our rhythm, I felt we were dangerous and scored some really good tries.”
It didn’t take long for the league leaders to assert their authority in the contest and Thompson was the man to make the breakthrough after initial good work from Hodgson, although the home side will have been annoyed with a handling error which lead to the opening converted score. (0-7)
And Billingham won’t look back with fondness in the second try of the game either. After an uncharacteristic poor lineout from Frances Entressengle, Billingham lost the ball with another loose-ball error and Bradley was there to pick up the pieces and grab his first try of the day. (0-14)
A good response from Billingham had Huddersfield struggling and they were awarded a penalty try after a deliberate knock on from Conway, the winger consequently being sent to the sin-bin. (7-14)
That had Huddersfield defending with their backs against the wall. But as they have done numerous times already, they held out with stunning resilience when it was 15 v 14 in a crucial stage of the game- Bradley and Ben Morrill particularly gaining plaudits with their strong tackling to keep the lead in-tact.
Captain Alex Battye then settled any slight doubts that the Huddersfield side were perhaps lagging after the Christmas period when he went over the whitewash just before the break, Chris Bell made no mistake from the conversion. (7-21).
It was a similar game in the second half, albeit a little scrappier, and again Billingham had a fair spell of possession. However, they never looked likely to threaten the Huddersfield try line, and for the second match in a row Huddersfield didn’t concede a point in the second half.
After wrongly not been given a penalty try (Billingham committed three fouls in a row on the 5m tryline), Bradley got his second try of the game when he went round the back of the scrum to touch down. (7-28)
And that bonus point try swung the momentum the Field’s way as they wrapped up another impressive 40-point winning margin.
Conway was next over in the corner when he ran in, and it wouldn’t have been a normal victory if Hodgson didn’t get in on the act, which he did when he leaped over following good strong build up play to score his 22nd try of the season. (7-42)
It could have been even more had Hodgson passed before he got tackled after a good run, but Conway soon doubled his tally when he went over in acrobatic style to round off the win. (7-47)
It was a try that perhaps Chris Bell may have wished wasn’t put over as he couldn’t keep his 100% record from the boot as he missed from a very tight angle.
Lewis added: “I think it was a bit of a turning point when Battye got one before the break. Then once we got the fourth try we relaxed and got into our real game plan so I’m pleased.”
“Their coaching staff were saying we sort of came into our own in the last twenty minutes and that’s been the theme of the season so far. It’s that middle part we need to work on. A few aspects of our play, restarts in particularly, we were poor today. Overall, though, our defence again was superb.”
Huddersfield next face Hull at Lockwood Park and Lewis wants to kick off from where they’ve left off in front of the home crowd.
“Hull next week will be another tough game. They were very physical over there earlier on in the season. We need to be prepared for that and train hard so that we start 2017 at Lockwood Park with another win.”
“We really want to try and recreate the atmosphere from the previous two home games this Saturday. The home support has been magnificent, let’s hope for continued support from the Lockwood Park faithful and the general Huddersfield public who have come down to support us in force so far.”