By Richard Sykes
A collapse in the final quarter of the match saw Huddersfield RUFC beaten 15-51 by Sheffield in director of rugby Gaz Lewis’s 250th game in charge.
A penalty on the hour for Huddersfield by Will Milner added three points to the ones from an early Charlie Foreman try plus another and a conversion by Milner took the score to 15-20 in the match at Lockwood Park.
The National 2 North game could have gone either way at that stage, however in a miserable final quarter for Huddersfield, Sheffield ran in five tries with Elliot Fisher, Ieuan Cooke and Ryan Burrows each adding a second to ones they had scored earlier to make the final score 15-51.
At the start of the game Huddersfield made one or two promising sorties but it was Sheffield that opened the scoring on their first venture into Huddersfield territory on 13 minutes. Cooke came into the line from full-back and put Fisher in for an unconverted try with an inside pass.
Huddersfield were soon back on terms. A penalty took them into the Sheffield 22 and after a tidy catch and drive from the lineout fly-half Milner crafted a neat cross field kick into the arms of Foreman on the left wing for a try on his first team debut. Milner converted and Huddersfield took a brief and slender lead.
Straight from the re-start Huddersfield were penalised at the breakdown and when Fisher’s kick cleared the crossbar Sheffield were back in front.
The rest of the first half was scrappy with promising moments for both teams fizzling out in knock-ons and general untidiness.
With the interval approaching Sheffield extended their lead with Burrows’ first try, the big No8 dotting down in the maul from a 10 metre lineout. Fisher added the extras and shortly afterwards he made an impressive solo break. Eventually he was isolated, tackled and penalised for hanging on to the ball and the score remained 7-15 at the break.
Huddersfield took to the field early for the second half and looked ready for battle but it was the visitors that drew first blood, Cooke touching down for an unconverted try at the back of a maul after just two minutes.
Skipper Lewis Bradley tried to rally his Huddersfield team, leading from the front with some powerful runs. Having exerted some pressure on the Sheffield line they were rewarded 10 minutes into the half when Milner cut inside for a try which he uncharacteristically failed to convert. Ten minutes later he made amends when he laced over his penalty kick from 40 metres out.
Sheffield returned to the attack straight away and Burrows barrelled over for the bonus point try from close range. Fisher was once again off target with the conversion attempt.
Things then completely unravelled for the hosts. The final rout began with two yellow cards in quick succession. Huddersfield flanker Liam Parfitt was first to go having been penalised for illegal entry at the ruck followed immediately by Bradley, referee Jack Moorhouse taking exception to Bradley’s suggestion that he may have made a mistake.
Thirteen man Huddersfield tried desperately to keep Sheffield out but winger Christian Hooper eventually found a gap to exploit for try number five.
‘Man of the Match’ Cooke was the scorer and provider of the next two tries. His own try came on the back of a scintillating run from inside his own half and some indifferent defending by Huddersfield.
Fisher notched his second try after another excellent break by Cooke who gifted him the simplest of passes having done the leg work. Both tries were run in between the posts and Fisher made no mistake with the conversions.
Huddersfield ended the match with a full compliment of players but replacement Archie Crapper added salt to their fresh wounds with a final unconverted try in stoppage time.
It was an ignominious end to head coach Gaz Lewis’s 250th game in charge but he was generous in his praise of Sheffield at the post match presentation, adding that he was proud of the performance of the two debutants, Foreman and centre Toby Spooner.
Huddersfield travel to take on Sheffield Tigers on Saturday (April 22) with the final match of the season, against Fylde, taking place at Lockwood Park on Saturday April 29.
Huddersfield: Workman; Williams; Barber; Bradley; Foreman; Milner; Wilson; Thompson; Myers; Rollins; Jones; Pearson; Parfitt; Brown; Jennings. Replacements: Stapley; Thornton; Spooner; Effiom; Smith.