By Daniel Allerton
Huddersfield RUFC lost 12-26 to Wharfedale in National 2 North in difficult conditions at Lockwood Park.
While on the wrong side on the scoreline Field showed defensive grit and produced an improved performance against a Wharfedale side who sit in third place in the table.
The visitors scored two tries in each half but it was Huddersfield’s Harry Whitfield who produced the game’s outstanding moment with his team’s second.
Director of rugby Neil Ryan described the performance as a “massive step in the right direction” and said: “The scoreline flattered Wharfedale a little bit.
“It was unfortunate we couldn’t get within seven points to get a losing bonus point but we were better. Our defence had more urgency and the effort and desire from everyone was there.”
Field faced early pressure in wet and windy weather with Dale going through the phases inside the home side’s 22.
The defence, which has been lacking in recent weeks, stood strong. With crunching tackles and an organised line Field withstood an onslaught in the first 10 minutes and eventually managed to clear their lines and advance up the pitch.
With the strong wind at their backs and the rain getting heavier Dale continued to press. Pearson and Barnard for Field tackled impressively as the defence soaked up Dale’s attacking play.
Eventually the pressure paid dividends for Dale with scrum half Oliver Riddiough using his athleticism to dart through a small gap for a try which was converted by Davidson to give them a 7-0 lead in the 21st minute.
Field had struggled for territory but strong runs by Max Horsfall and kicking from Lewis Workman dragged play into the opponent’s half to test Dale’s defence which held firm.
Dale were soon back on the attack. The lightning quick Omari Kaup-Samuels made an impressive break which was thwarted by an equally impressive tackle by Field winger Paul Harrison who shepherded him into touch.
Eventually the unrelenting pressure took its toll and Dale scored a second try in the 38th minute, Baldwin bundling the ball over the line behind a driving scrum from five metres out. Davidson converted to put Wharfedale 14 points up at the break.
At the start of the second half and Wharfedale flew out of the traps, catching Field in a rare defensive lapse when the strong running Oliver Cicognini scored his sixth try of the season. After a penalty to Dale and a catch and drive the ball was shifted through two phases before the centre ran it over the line. Davidson made it three out of three to make it 21-0.
Field then began to dominate for the first time in the game and it was Wharfedale’s turn to defend. Scrum-half Simon Wilson moved the ball nicely and had willing runners alongside him. Hammond and Whitfield made good ground but there was no way through and Dale managed to kick the ball away.
After 55 minutes Field’s hard work bore fruit. Some great attacking drives took play to the Dale line and flanker Liam Parfitt picked the ball up and charged through from five metres out to dot down for Field’s first try. Ethan Myers converted from a central area to make it 7-21.
Buoyed by the try Field ran harder but after some intense battling and crunching tackles from both sides it was Dale who killed the game off. In the 77th minute after a messy passage with both sides struggling for control in the muddy conditions Rian Hamilton crossed for the bonus point try. Davidson missed the conversion.
Straight from the restart Huddersfield’s Harry Whitfield scored the try of the game. The burly prop ran 25 metres, brushing off tackles and bulldozing his way through the entire team.
With only a few metres to go he looked set to offload but instead charged down the last defenders and put the ball over the line himself.
Neil Ryan said: “It was individual brilliance. The initial foot tap then barging four or five people off was amazing. He is a quality player and I’m really glad to be coaching him.”
Although Wilson missed the conversion to leave the final score 12-26 Whitfield’s moment of magic seemed just reward for Field’s efforts on the day.
Huddersfield host newly-promoted Lymm next week in the final game of 2023 (kick off 2pm). Lymm are the only team Field have beaten this season and they will be hoping to build on their strong showing against Wharfedale to secure the double.
Ryan added: “We need to show the same desire and commitment to defend and, when we have the ball in the opposition’s half, take our chances.”
Huddersfield: Stewart F; Horsfall; Workman; Hammond; Potter; Wilson; Harrison; Thompson; Myers; Whitfield; Pearson; Barnard; Parfitt; Haywood; Quinn. Replacements: Walker; Rollins; Entressengle; Dawson; Moore.
Photo courtesy of Wharfedale RUFC