By Dale Earnshaw
Cain Crotty was Man of the Match as Huddersfield Laund Hill claimed their first victory of 2024 with a 36-13 victory over Leeds Corinthians.
The game got off the to the right start for the men from Huddersfield as they pinned their opposition down close to their own line with some clever kicking, strong running and resolute defence.
Forcing an error just five metres from the Leeds line, No8 Joe Bender picked the ball up from the back of the scrum and almost made the line close to the posts.
However, the Laund Hill pack had stayed wide and the ball found the two props out on the right wing as Harry Scholes fed Sean Barrett to claim the first try of the day. Unfortunately, Tom Egan was unable to add the conversion.
This seemed to wake up the Corinithians team and they were able to work their way downfield into the Laund Hill half.
A lack of concentration from the home team gifted them two penalties for offside, both within kicking range, and both were duly slotted over to take the lead – 5-6.
As the half wore on, Laund Hill started to look more in control as they were able to string a number of phases together.
This, along with the strong running of man of the match Cain Crotty, saw them once again get good field position. The ball was swung from the right hand side to the left wing and Archie Roberts cut a brilliant line to take the ball and crash over for the second try of the day. This time the conversion was good.
Laund Hill were now playing the percentage game and trying to force Corinthians to play out from deep within their own half. However, when a kick-chase did not nail their man first time, Leeds put the ball through a number of hands and went 80 metres down field to score their second try of the day to once again take the lead.
That looked to be it for the first half as the clock ticked into stoppage time. But when Leeds were penalised in their return of the restart, Laund Hill were once again able to kick the ball into the corner.
As the ball worked its way out, fly-half Luke Earnshaw made a half-break almost reaching the line. The ball was recycled quickly and Crotty crashed over for a well-deserved try to take the score to 17-13 at half-time.
Early in the second-half, Laund Hill were once again able to string a number of phases together with full-back Gaz Evans making good ground.
Egan threaded a grubber kick through and captain Ed Black was able to charge down the clearance kick from Leeds.
As the ruck formed on the visitors’ line, winger Roberts picked the ball up and dived over for his second of the day.
As Leeds tried to get themselves back into the game, good scramble defence from the home team extinguished the threat and forced Leeds into making numerous errors.
And when a 22m drop-out was kicked out on the full, it gave Laund Hill another perfect opportunity to set something up.
Once again, Bender took the ball left from the base of the scrum and the ball was then passed back to the right. Crotty fed the ball to Evans who ran in unopposed to score a fine try. This time the conversion was added by Egan.
Laund Hill were now very much in control of the game and Corinthians discipline started to slip.
A fracas after a huge driving maul from the home team saw Leeds reduced to 14 men and Laund Hill looked to turn the screw.
However, the normally reliable catch-and-drive from the line-out failed on this occasion, giving the visitors a scrum close to their line.
But the Laund Hill pack had other ideas as they drove their opposite numbers back at a rate of knots forcing panic in the back-field.
As the fly-half attempted to clear the ball, the kick was charged-down by Egan and Earnshaw was on hand to pounce on the ball for the final try of the day.
Overall, a much improved display from Laund Hill and they will now look to carry the form forward into next week’s difficult game away at Hemsworth.
Squad: Evans, Burns-Smith, Bulloch, Crotty, Roberts, Earnshaw, Egan; Scholes, Hill, Barrett, Dalton, Black (c), Priestley, Watson, Bender. Subs: Burt, Haywood, Vernon.