Ilkley 9-58 Huddersfield
Huddersfield RU impressively continued their 100% start to the season with a stunning 58-9 win at Ilkley.
Elliot Hodgson scored a second half hat-trick to ensure the five-point win after Danny Grainger, Brandon Conway, Nick Sharpe and Austen Thompson all put Huddersfield comfortably ahead, and the win was the Field’s eighth in a row in all competitions.
On a perfect playing surface, the home side opened the score early on through captain Joe Rowntree’s questionable penalty, but it was to be the first and last time Ilkley went ahead. The Field responded well when Sharpe was dragged out of play and the ball was brought back to an earlier foul where Chris Bell scored a penalty to level.
Huddersfield asserted their dominance from then on, and after Ilkley had a scrum in their own 22 Adam Tamanis overturned the ball and worked the ball from left to right as Grainger went over in the corner. Bell converted brilliantly from the side.
When in possession in the next phase, the Field were awarded a penalty and Bell found the posts from long range. Ilkley, though, were given their own penalty minutes later and Rowntree put over his second of the afternoon.
It wasn’t long until Huddersfield found the whitewash again, and Hodgson’s bursting run allowed Conway to go over in the opposite corner. Bell added the three as ever.
Gareth Lewis’ team were made to work hard through a tough spell and dealt well with a succession of phases from Ilkley as they remained strong defensively through the pack. Rowntree did get his third penalty from as many attempts, but the Field took control from then on and never looked back.
After missing a penalty, Bell made amends by putting the ball between the posts on the half time whistle to give the Field breathing space as they headed into the break.
A driving maul within minutes of the restart gave space for the ever-present number 8 Sharpe to go over and his try was converted. The Field looked for more but Ilkley dealt well with the continued pressure until Austen Thompson finally broke the defence down again.
His try was converted and with the match already won, Huddersfield were searching for their fourth consecutive bonus point win of the season.
That was made possible, and with ease, when Hodgson’s perfectly timed interception allowed him to run free and he went under the sticks to give Bell an easy conversion.
Although Adam Malthouse was sinbinned, Hodgson was to go over again minutes later and then he made it his hat-trick when strong in the tackle near the try-line. Bell’s conversions made the score 58-9 on a near-perfect afternoon for Huddersfield as they made it seven from seven at the top of the National Three North.
“I’m extremely pleased how today has gone,” said Lewis. “I feel we’re getting better each week and some of the tries we scored were fantastic. The way we finished the game, especially in the last 10 to 15 minutes, was very impressive.”
“What pleased me the most over anything, though, is the defence. To only concede 9 points and no tries yet again shows how much effort we’ve put in, the result is an absolute credit to the boys.”
“We’ve kept our standards high and made sure every individual outplays their opposite number. The stats which we’re using this year giving us a benchmark, too. Last week, for example, we seen that our lineout success rate went down to 62% compared to the 90% area we were getting before. They really do drive the standards on.”
The hat-trick today takes Hodgson’s try tally to 12 (one in the cup) in all competitions and he’s now scored three hat-tricks in two league matches after scoring six against Firwood Waterloo. With him and Conway taking the scoring charts by storm, Lewis is happy with the friendly competition within the squad. He said:
“Elliot was telling me before the game today that he was looking for double figures and to outscore Brandon. Competition between the squad is always good. The backs are on fire and it’s good to see.”
“We have threats all over the field. The forwards showed today that they can use the driving maul attack from scrums and when we move the ball wide its pleasing to see how threatening we are.”
Captain Alex Battye also returned from the bench in the Ilkley win, and he gave his thoughts on his dominant side’s start to the season.
“It’s really good that we’re carrying on winning streak,” said Battye, who had been out for a month with a head injury. “That win today was really special.”
“I thought they could have really put it against us after the break, but we showed our talent. It’s great to be back and we were good out there today. We were just saying there to a few of the lads that we feel that the only team who can beat us is ourselves.
“The performances we put in at training is something we commit onto the game on a Saturday. It’s a very good winning feel around the team at the moment.”