By Richard Sykes

Huddersfield RUFC made a winning start to 2023, defeating Chester by the narrowest of margins at Hare Lane. Two tries in the first half hour gave them an early lead with Ethan Myers bagging a late winner, after the home side had staged a strong comeback, to make the final score 20-19.

Field head coach Gaz Lewis said: “It was a great game of rugby that ebbed and flowed for 80 minutes. We set the tone early on with a strong scrummage and I was pleased with the way we attacked and defended. Our indiscipline nearly cost us in the final stages but some fantastic team defence saw us through to victory.”

It was Huddersfield’s first win at Hare Lane since 2016 and a fitting result to mark the 150th appearance of full-back Tom Hodson.

Chester started the the day in 5th place in the table and the defeat was their first on home turf this season by a team below them.

Field dominated the opening period and were off the mark after three minutes when No8 Rob Jennings scored the first try of the game which Will Milner converted. They maintained the pressure, winning a series of penalties at the scrums which enabled them to gain ground by kicking to the corners.

Although Chester narrowed the gap with a Gething Long penalty Field extended the lead when wingman Fin Stewart went in at the corner for an unconverted try after some very slick handling.

Chester always looked threatening with ball in hand with Long and centre Jorge Lewtas in particular making decisive breaks which tested the visitors’ defence.

A second penalty by Long and an unconverted try on 35 minutes narrowed the gap to a single point. Lock Harry Wilkinson was the Chester try scorer, dotting down after a very speedy pick and go at the base of a scrum by No8 Luke Cox.

In a furiously contested second half Milner extended Field’s lead with a penalty just after break which was cancelled out by a third one for Long on 57 minutes. Chester gained more parity in the scrums as the game progressed and an unconverted try by flanker Kyle Joseph gave them the lead with 15 minutes remaining.

Long’s missed conversion attempt heralded a gripping finale with both sides seeking the decisive score. Field’s powerful pack won a penalty to take play into the Chester’s 22 to give Myers his opportunity to round things off.

From the lineout Field produced a classic catch and drive with the hooker crashing though in the corner for the try which Milner failed to convert.

Tempers flared in the final five minutes and Huddersfield centre Ed Barber received a yellow card. The home side used their one man advantage to up the ante and subject their visitors to one final onslaught.

Field produced a magnificent rearguard defence and did not yield. Long did get a chance to turn the tables but his last minute penalty attempt went wide of the mark.

Next Huddersfield take on Preston Grasshoppers at Lockwood Park on Saturday January 14 kick off 2.15pm. The two teams are 11th and 12th in National 2 North. A win for Huddersfield will lift them out of the relegation places for the first time this season.