Despite an excellent victory at the weekend, defeating the Wath Brow Hornets 28-10, Bradford Dudley Hill are remaining grounded as they fight to maintain their premier status in the National Conference League.
In a physical encounter they impressed in front of their home crowd and romped to victory. The Cumbrian outfit seemed somewhat shocked by the relentless attack and ferocious defence and as the game progressed it was reflected in the scoreline. At half-time the visitors were still in the game, only four points adrift, but to the delight of Dudley Hill faithful, they increased the gap to 20-4 with little time remaining in the second-half for a Wath Brow recovery.
After a difficult start to the season, Dudley Hill are beginning to show signs that they are a threat to the top six. With two wins on the bounce, including a whitewash 20-0 victory away at West Hull, there is an air of confidence around the Neil Hunt Memorial ground and it is beginning to show on the field.
Promoted from Division 1 last season, they are respectful of their position as a premier side and Head-Coach Jason Lee is completely aware of how crucial survival in the division is. “The players need to realise that the home wins are really important and if we can pick up maybe one or two wins on the road then Premier League survival is the goal. We haven’t set our sights massive with winning the national cup or getting into the play-offs, our goal this year is to maintain our premier league status and with performances like today (against Wath Brow), I think we can achieve that.”
It is clear the club want to have a legacy as a Premier League side; they don’t want to find themselves in and out of the division. Dudley Hill have a relatively young side, made up of mainly home-grown players, an average age of twenty-four started on Saturday. Jason Lee said: “A lot of players are underestimated in our team; we have probably one of the best defenders in Anthony Huby. We have players like Lewis Evans, Craig Tyman and Neil Wall, who have all been at the club since they were under 8’s. People should not go away from what we have already got, we have a bedrock of Dudley Hill players who have played in Division 1 and now they have stepped up and are beginning to show their colours. A couple of weeks ago four of them were lucky enough to play for the Community Lions.”
Promotion back to the Premier League was tough and Lee knew improvement was required, he said: “I have grabbed them at the right time and I am not naive to think we didn’t need to improve the side we have. I believe we’ve gone out and done that by bringing in Steve Brook and Darren Robinson who bring that experience we need.”
This season has reminded both players and coaches of how different life is in Division 1 compared to the Premier League. It seems however that Dudley Hill prepared themselves for the rollercoaster ride that it brings and so far are still firmly strapped in. Loose-forward, Anthony Huby said: “A lot of the sides we have come up against are really rugby playing sides, they are fast and very athletic. He shares similar views to his coach on the season outlook, “My personal goal and obviously that of the team is consolidation, a top six finish would be great, but we need to find our feet this season it’s been a long time since we’ve been in the top division.”
“This league has proved that there are a lot teams beating one another. Saddleworth are possibly the best team we have played but they have lost to other good sides and are currently below us in the table,” said coach, Jason Lee.
Stand-off Tony Williams, is key to the success of this Dudley Hill side, he’s an extremely influential player, the way he organises and leads the side along with his kicking game reflect his ability. Lee said: “Tony’s a class player, we all know he could be playing pro.” Teammate, Huby continued, “Tony Williams has been back for the last few weeks and its made a huge difference, he’s a good organiser and obviously he’s played at professional level.”
With the recent improvement in form, Dudley Hill have got themselves up to 9th in the table and another win could put them in a top six spot with a third of the season gone. The Bradford-based team are on the road for their next three fixtures, their first this Saturday in what will be a tough encounter against third-place side Leigh Miners Rangers. Coach Jason Lee will be hoping for more of the same in their quest for Premier League survival.