By Richard Sykes
A superb hat-trick by Huddersfield winger Finlay Stewart put a glossy shine on the team’s performance in the National 2 North match at Blaydon.
The hosts twice took the lead with first half tries by Ethan Clarke and Darren Fearn but Field hit back and produced a good spell before half time. They maintained control after the interval to earn a deserved 19-13 win.
Director of rugby Gaz Lewis had mixed views about his team’s performance. After the game he said: “We didn’t quite hit our straps today and there was an air of frustration about our play.
“That being said we did what we set out to do but Blaydon made us work extremely hard for the win. Full credit to Fin for his exceptional hat-trick.”
Blaydon made a lively start to the game and their early ambition was rewarded with an unconverted try just 10 minutes in. A fine break down the middle by hooker Charles Smith led to the ball being shipped to the right wing where Clarke managed to slide over the line in the clutches of Field full-back Tom Hodson’s last ditch tackle attempt.
Field were briefly back on terms just after the half hour. Centre Lewis Workman broke ground and when he passed the ball to Stewart he outpaced the defenders down the right flank for the first of his three.
Field then knocked on from the re-start and, after a couple of well worked phases behind the scrum, Blaydon drove over from close range, Fearn being the man to dot down. Will Milner for Field and Zach Thompson for Blaydon were both wide of the mark with their conversion attempts.
The final minutes of the first half were played out with Field playing some good 15 man rugby. There were noticeable contributions from the back row pairing of Jennings and Parfitt and Barber and Workman in the centre, but the moments of promise ended in frustration and Field remained five points in arrears at the interval.
Field were quickly into their stride after the break and were on the scoresheet again on 48 minutes. From a lineout inside the Blaydon half the Field pack produced an excellent 20 metre driving maul and with the Blaydon defence in retreat the ball went briskly through the hands of the half backs to the wing where Stewart once again showed his pace for try number two, which Milner converted to give Field the lead.
Further chances came their way but Blaydon were resolute. An excellent 50/22 kick by Milner set up a great opportunity. The catch from the lineout was clean but the drive was halted by some determined defence from Blaydon.
Stewart also had another good chance. With open ground in front of him the ball came down the line but the final pass went behind him as he accelerated up the touch-line.
Stewart’s hat-trick try and Milner’s conversion, which finally put some daylight between the two teams, came with 15 minutes to go. Once again it was Stewart’s ability to exploit space with his pace that led to his score.
Blaydon pressed in the dying moments of the game forcing Field to work hard to defend their lead. In the end Blaydon had to settle for a losing bonus point, with Thompson landing a penalty from in front of the posts with the last kick of the match.
Huddersfield’s win maintains their seven-point cushion over Preston Grasshoppers and Harrogate, the two teams immediately below them in the table, who both won. Blaydon are now six points adrift at the bottom.
Huddersfield host Rotherham Titans at Lockwood Park on Saturday February 25 (2.15).