England vs Exiles: Hodgson stars in Super League Origin win
Former Wests Tigers full-back Brett Hodgson grabbed 16 points for the Exiles as they claimed a 32-20 victory over England in their second Origin Series match at the Galpharm Stadium in Huddersfield.
Smarting from their 18-10 loss against the same opponents at St Helens’ Langtree Park last month, NSW-born Hodgson was in inspired form with boot and hands.
He scored two tries and kicked four goals and was joined on the scoresheet by New Zealand international Francis Meli who also crossed the whitewash twice on Wednesday.
Victory squared this series at 1-1 and meant the Exiles retained the trophy they won in last year’s inaugural one-off match.
The fixture between England and a team made up of Super League’s leading overseas players was designed to give the national side, who’ve fallen behind fellow traditional rugby league powers Australia and New Zealand, additional competitive match practice ahead of next year’s Rugby League World Cup.
And in their first match since former captain Jamie Peacock’s international retirement, Steve McNamara’s new-look England were well beaten by an Exiles side where 34-year-old Hodgson and 38-year-old Steve Menzies were the stars.
As early as the fourth minute the Exiles broke down England’s left, Heath L’Estrange making ground before Scott Dureau twisted and turned and fed Hodgson – who crashed over from close range and added the extras.
Ex-Manly Warringah Sea Eagles second row Menzies almost made England pay again moments later before being ushered out of play inches from the whitewash.
With the Exiles in full control, Joel Monaghan broke the English line on 20 minutes and fed former Gold Coast Titans prop Anthony Laffranchi who was held up just shy of the try-line.
But with Daniel Anderson’s side in search of their second try, Dureau’s probing kick was intercepted and Ryan Atkins took full advantage by running the length of the field leaving Hodgson and Willie Manu in his wake.
Danny Brough levelled the scores for England with his conversion.
The Exiles soon regained their lead, however, as Menzies powered through from half-way to find replacement Lincoln Withers in support.
The former Crusaders half-back then gave Dureau the honour of crossing for the try.
With five minutes remaining in the half in-form Wigan winger Josh Charnley brought England back into it, finishing superbly from Leroy Cudjoe’s break down the right.
Brough’s missed conversion left England trailing 12-10 but they were further behind by half-time – former Sydney Rooster Monaghan’s try in the dying seconds of the opening period put the Exiles six points in front.
Eight minutes into second half Hodgson again showed his creativity with a superb pass out wide for Meli who escaped the close attentions of Charnley and grounded in the corner.
Hodgson quickly made amends for the ensuing missed conversion by burrowing over for his second try of the game in the 55th minute before adding the extras to give the Exiles a decisive 26-10 lead.
That was reduced on the hour when Tom Briscoe finished in the corner.
But Meli joined Hodgson in claiming his second try of the game just two minutes later, receiving Daniel Holdsworth’s pass safely before making his way towards the posts.
With the game in the bag England grabbed a late consolation through Huddersfield’s Cudjoe but it made little difference as the Exiles gained revenge for last month’s loss.© AFP 2013
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