Huddersfield St. Josephs retained their WRLA Plate after thrashing Hunslet Warriors 62-8 in Featherstone.
Hayley Fielding scored a hat-trick and five goals as her side cruised to victory. Larisa Deaves, Laura Dyson, Jess Hopkins and Lyndsey Cunnett all scored twice as Lucy Eastwood and Megan Price also added to the score line. Nicola Walker produced all eight of Hunslet’s points, scoring two tries in the first half.
Last year’s winners, Huddersfield, made a quick start and went in front early. A superb run from Fielding opened up space for Larisa Deaves who scored the opening try. Ten minutes later their lead was increased. Hunslet were caught flat footed and allowed Fielding too much space down the right wing. The England Lionesses player capitalised to score the first of her three tries.
Hunslet retaliated and went on the offensive. Huddersfield’s defence was put to work and it remained resilient until the 30th minute when the Warriors finally found a breakthrough. Hayley Portrey’s offload to Erica Zanre allowed Hunslet to continue their attack. Zanre then found Nicola Walker on the far side who dashed forward and opened her account.
Huddersfield responded and five minutes later they added to their tally. Laura Dyson scored from dummy half as Fielding kicked the first of her five conversions to make it 14-4.
Warriors took the kick-off and instantaneously regained possession as Huddersfield failed to catch the ball. Once again, it was Walker who picked it up and raced over 35 meters to score a terrific try. However, that was as good as things got for the South Leeds side.
A few minutes before the half time whistle Huddersfield extended their lead. Deaves scored her second of the game while a second conversion from Fielding made it 20-8 at the break.
When the two teams came back out, the match turned into one way traffic. Six tries in a short space of 20 minutes firmly put Huddersfield in the driving seat. Two of those tries came from Jess Hopkins. Two more went to Fielding who completed her hat-trick. Laura Dyson scored her second of the game while Lyndsey Cunnett scored her first.
A couple of on-field injuries seemed to take the momentum away however, it didn’t take long for Huddersfield to score again. Cunnett touched down on the near side for her second of the game while Lucy Eastwood powered through the centre to score under the sticks. Megan Price produced the final blow as her late try earned St. Joe’s a commanding 62-8 victory.
The win means that Huddersfield retain the Plate for another year. Head coach Craig Robertson was very pleased with the result and said: “We worked hard all season. This is fantastic for everyone associated with the club. First half we were going uphill so we had to concentrate on our defence and completing our sets. Second half we were downhill and it was all about getting points past them. The girls did everything that we asked.”
Huddersfield’s Lyndsey Cunnett also spoke after the game and said: “We made it hard work in the first half. Second half we knew we were going downhill so we knew we would smash them out of the water. But we came here with our heads on, switched on, wanting to win and we came out with the trophy.”
For Hunslet this was a disappointing defeat however, they will be very pleased with the massive amount of progress they have made since setting up a women’s team just two years ago. They clearly put in everything they had and gave Huddersfield a good game, especially in the first half.
Huddersfield St. Josephs
Tries: Larisa Deaves (2), Hayley Fielding (3), Laura Dyson (2), Jess Hopkins (2), Lyndsey Cunnett (2), Lucy Eastwood, Megan Price
Goals: Hayley Fielding (5)
Tries: Nicola Walker (2)
Venue: LD Nutrition Stadium, Featherstone