Cleckheaton 13 – 62 Huddersfield
Huddersfield RU made it an incredible twelve wins in a row with a stunning 62-13 victory away at Cleckheaton. Despite foggy conditions over the M62, Gareth Lewis’ side scored eight tries and kept their neighbours scoreless throughout the second half as they remain six points ahead at the top of National North Three.
The Field were forced to make a late change as Danny Grainger came in for Elliot Hodgson, who missed the game through illness, and it was Cleckheaton who drew first blood in the West Yorkshire derby when Neil Chivers put over an early penalty.
Huddersfield were forced to work hard to get back in the game, and after Chris Bell uncharacteristically missed a penalty to level scores, it paid dividend when centre Tom Owen hit the white wash. Bell added from the conversion, and did the same thing after Joel Hinchliffe scored a try following powerful play from a lineout inside the Cleckheaton 22’.
But the home side weren’t blown over so easily, and Chivers added his second penalty of the afternoon to close the gap. The Field stepped up a gear, though, and Bell grabbed a penalty of his own before converting Nick Sharpe’s try from a scrum.
And when Ryan Piercy was sin binned for Cleckheaton, full back Lewis Workman had time and space once Austen Thompson looped a pass over which he always going to take.
It was Cleckheaton, however, who had the last say before the half time whistle as Luke Pearson split the Huddersfield centre’s as he went under the sticks for Chivers to add the extras with ease.
That was the first try the Field had conceded in three matches, and with the weather getting worse, the pitch hardly visible from one side to the other, they responded well at the restart as they camped in their opposition half for the most part.
Bell added a penalty despite a few errors, and it wasn’t long till Conway grabbed a converted try of his own. On Nick Rhodes’ full return from injury, he got his own when he went under the sticks and from the restart, a massive hit from Lewis Bradley paved way for Ben Hoyle to chase onto a kick for a seventh converted try.
Conway, as clinical as ever, had the last say with his second try of the day as the Field wrapped up the five-point win, much to the delight of head coach Lewis.
“I thought the boys played very well again so there’s not many complaints today,” said Lewis. “The interlinking between the forwards and the backs, our scrummage and set pieces was strong and it provided the platform.”
“The conditions made it a little bit difficult for the full backs but that’s what English rugby is like in the depths of winter.”
“We moved the ball with pace into the wide channels and looked threatening in all areas of the field.”
The Field now face second placed Rossendale, who made it ten wins in a row with an 89-12 victory against Firwood Waterloo, in a match poised to be a cracker at Lockwood Park.
“Rossendale will be street wise, they’ve had players who have been in and around National One for a long time. They’re an experienced physical team who put more than 80 past Firwood Waterloo
today so we know the threat they will pose. It will be a huge challenge but it’s exciting and the boys will be chomping at the bit.”
And with captain Alex Battye and Adam Malthouse playing for the Falcons, Elliot Hodgson not involved through illness and Adam Tamanis, who could return from injury, all hoping to start next weekend, Lewis admits he has a huge selection headache.
“Even in the last five minutes myself and Phil Gosling were talking about selection headaches. Them four lads are on top of the 18 involved today, and there’s only 18 available. We’ll see how training goes this week, and then select the team who can do well against Rossendale.”