By Richard Sykes
Huddersfield RUFC were denied their second away win of the season by a try in the final moments of their National 2 North game against Loughborough Students.
The score meant that the home side shaded a highly-entertaining match 33-29, after Huddersfield had staged an amazing fightback to put themselves in a winning position.
Huddersfield were losing 21-6 approaching half-time but a try by hooker Liam Stapley on 38 minutes narrowed the gap and set the scene for a dramatic, final 40.
At the start of the game the Students were quickly out of the blocks and were two converted tries to the good at the end of the first quarter. Media Trinds opened their account, cruising in under the posts after a fine interception, with prop Griffin Phillipson, barrelling over for their second.
A Will Milner penalty, in between the two, put Huddersfield on the scoreboard and he added three more points with a second, five minutes after the Phillipson score. That out the score at 14-6 to the home side.
Loughborough extended their lead with a third converted try five minutes before the interval, Jack Shiner dotting down after a neat assist from Phillipson. The try seemed to energise the visitors who responded with the first of their three tries just before the break.
After putting the home side under pressure from the re-start, Huddersfield established an attacking platform with a penalty to the 5 metre line. The line-out catch was cleanly taken and Liam Stapley touched down in the corner from the drive and maul that followed.
The score at the interval was Loughborough 21-11 Huddersfield
Huddersfield didn’t have the best of starts to the second period, losing the services of lock Eddie Brown for ten minutes to a yellow card. Milner notched his third penalty kick not long afterwards but the students cashed in on their one man advantage, with full back Karl Warner exploiting the space on the wide outside, to score a try in the corner to make the score 26-14.
Once back to full complement, Huddersfield drew level, scoring two tries in the space of ten minutes. With team confidence now flowing, winger Kian Stewart rounded off an excellent passage of play with a try in the corner.
Unfortunately Milner’s conversion attempt drifted wide of the mark. However, when captain Lewis Bradley scored try number three, after some excellent passing exchanges, he made no mistake with his next, slotting his kick between the posts from wide out, to put his team on level terms.
At this point in the match Huddersfield were dominating proceedings and when the students were penalised on their own 10-metre line, Milner gave his side the lead with a beautifully struck long range kick.
As the final minutes ticked away Huddersfield were forced back into their own half having conceded a series of penalties at the breakdown.
The final one gave the students an attacking lineout, five metres from the Huddersfield line. The lineout catch was good and No8 Nic Jakobsen scored the winning try from the drive, with a successful touchline conversion adding a little salt to Huddersfield’s fresh wounds.
After the game Huddersfield’s backs and attack coach Neil Ryan said: “We had a good conversation at half-time and we believed that we could win the game. In the second half we played with confidence and I thought that Kian’s try was the best one in the game.
“Defensively we were good and, when we took the lead, we were in total control in the game and looked set to claim our second win. We made a slow start to the match, which ultimately cost us, but I can’t fault the effort of all the lads. Defeat was a bitter pill to swallow.”