England fall to classy Exiles
Hodgson the hero as Super League's overseas stars shine
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 04/07/12 10:40pm
Daniel Holdsworth and Brett Hodgson: influential for the Exiles in their victory
The Exiles made sure the 2012 International Origin Series would end all square with a 32-20 victory over England at the Galpharm.
Skipper Brett Hodgson scored two tries and kicked four goals to help Super League's overseas stars run out comfortable winners in Huddersfield, meaning they retain the trophy they had won last year at Headingley.
Francis Meli also touched down twice in the second half as the Exiles gained revenge for their 18-10 loss in the opener at a rain-soaked Langtree Park.
England, without rested quartet Ryan Hall, Kevin Sinfield, Sean O'Loughlin and Sam Tomkins, as well as the now-retired Jamie Peacock, did manage four tries, though a young side led by Jon Wilkin were taught a harsh lesson by their more experienced opponents.
Amazingly the first half passed without a penalty being called, and the open nature of the game suited the much-changed Exiles down to the ground.
They broke the deadlock in just the fourth minute when Hodgson crossed for his first of the night, the full-back running on to a pass from Scott Dureau to burst through just as it appeared the opportunity had gone begging.
The opening try was a pre-cursor for what was to come, with England's left flank being left horribly exposed on numerous occasions.
Only the efforts of Warrington duo Ryan Atkins and Stefan Ratchford denied Steve Menzies, who continues to prove age is no barrier, from getting in at the right corner, while Daniel Holdsworth was held up over the line.
It therefore came as a surprise that England scored the next try, Ryan Atkins the man to get it when he somehow managed to go untouched down the left for a superb solo effort that Danny Brough couldn't quite convert.
The Exiles response was a superb flowing move, again down their right, that was finished off by Dureau under the uprights, and they touched down again on the same flank before the break through winger Joel Monaghan.
In between Josh Charnley forced his way over after good work by the Huddersfield pairing of Brough and Leroy Cudjoe, though Steve McNamara's side still trailed 16-10 at the break.
The gap was increased when Meli squeezed in at the left corner despite pressure from Charnley, who didn't last much longer in the contest as a calf problem forced him out of the action.
Yet when the impressive Holdsworth was held up just short seven minutes later, Hodgson took it upon himself to burrow over from dummy-half. His fourth conversion followed, opening up a 16-point lead.
England gave themselves a glimmer of hope when winger Tom Briscoe produced a fine finish out wide, diving over with his feet raised, though that was quickly extinguished when Meli added a simple run-in.
A Leroy Cudjoe effort, converted by Brough, gave England a consolation effort in the closing minutes. For McNamara, however, it will have been of little consolation; he has much to ponder after seeing his young troops toppled.