By Dale Earnshaw
Huddersfield Laund Hill RUFC went down by a single point at Roundhegians in a much-anticipated match-up between two of Yorkshire 1’s relegated teams.
A tight game was decided by penalties as the home side edged out Laund Hill 31-30.
Both teams looked fired-up in the early exchanges but it was the home team that got the early advantage as a number of Laund Hill handling errors and cheap penalties gave away possession too easily.
With a penalty on half-way, Roundhegians put a kick to touch deep into the Laund Hill 22 and recycled the ball well from the line-out. Spinning the ball out wide, the Hill defence was not quick enough to slide across, conceding a try out wide which was successfully converted.
Laund Hill, though, were putting up a fight and not allowing Hegians to get a foothold in the game. Early indications showed that the Hill scrum was going to be dominant and prop forward Sam Burt won a couple of turn-overs.
However, they were unable to gain any advantage or territory with their possession and life was made more difficult as Cain Crotty was shown a yellow card in the 13th minute for preventing a quick Roundhegians tap penalty.
Once again, though, Laund Hill were able to turn the ball over from the penalty and looked to have found an exit deep into the Roundhegians half. However, the ball was quickly returned by the full-back, finding an excellent 50-22. From the resulting line-out, Laund Hill conceded a further penalty under their posts which the home team converted, taking a 10-0 lead.
As the clock approached the 20-minute mark, Hegians were found guilty of holding-on at the ruck and the Laund Hill penalty was kicked to touch, close to their opponent’s line for their first visit into the opposition half.
With the forwards winning the ball well at the line-out, they took control with a number of pick and go’s.
Captain Ed Black looked to have got over for the try but was adjudged to have been held up. However, the goal-line drop-out was sliced and centre Gareth Evans was quickest to react, collecting the ball and diving over for his team’s first try. Tom Egan added the extras.
Unfortunately for Laund Hill, though, from the kick-off a clearance kick didn’t find touch, allowing Roundhegians to attack once again.
A high up-and-under was expertly taken by Will Burns-Smith but he found himself isolated against the on-rushing defence who were able to claim the ball back and run through for their second try.
However, in an action packed few minutes, Laund Hill once again found themselves close to the Roundhegians’ line following a penalty. Unfortunately, they were unable to secure the line-out possession but did force Hegians into an error.
From the resulting scrum, they were able to set a platform and went back to their reliable pick-and-go from the base of the ruck. This time, Black powered over the line and the try was awarded which was converted by Egan.
Heading into the final 10 minutes of the half, Laund Hill’s discipline started to fall apart as they conceded three quick penalties. This saw the home team with some good possession and once again, as the ball was swung out to their backs, a gap opened in the Laund Hill defence which allowed Roundhegians to glide through for another try to take the score to 20-14.
With just a couple of minutes of the half left, Laund Hill were awarded a penalty 40 metres out. A shot at goal was elected for to narrow the gap going into half-time, but unfortunately the attempt was pushed just wide.
Roundhegians immediately went on the attack and once again a couple of missed tackles in midfield allowed them to get further downfield, ultimately scoring a try wide in the corner in the final play of the half.
As the second-half started, Laund Hill looked to have resolved some of the issues from the first period and were able to build a number of phases of possession, complimented by a more rigid defence.
And all of this paid dividends as it was Roundhegians’ turn to be ill-disciplined as Egan was able to add two penalties in quick succession to get the team back to within one score.
However, Hegians were able to extend this by a further three points as some Laund Hill foul-play gifted them an easy shot in front of the sticks.
Both teams shared a good amount of possession in the first part of the half but also a share in the ever increasing penalty count. This was working in Laund Hill’s favour though and the tide looked to have turned.
Working their way down into their opponent’s half, the Hill dominance in the scrum was starting to increase as Hegians were forced to concede a number of penalties at the setpiece.
With Laund Hill now grinding out the phases, Sam Burt got his hands on the ball and dived over for a converted try.
With 15 minutes left and just one point behind, things improved further as Laund Hill were awarded yet another penalty in kicking range. The kick was duly slotted over by Egan and for the first time in the game, the visitors took the lead – 28-30.
The final 10 minutes became a nervy affair for both teams as each of them looked to find the spark that would claim the victory.
Unfortunately for Laund Hill, with just a couple of minutes left, they lost both Archie Roberts and Lewis Vernon following a clash of heads forcing a number of changes in the back-line.
This seemed to momentarily unsettle the team and they gifted Roundhegians a penalty in front of the posts which they had no hesitation in taking the three points to take the lead by just one point.
With the game entering the final play, Laund Hill attempted to grind their opposition down with phase after phase down the middle of the field.
Hoping to draw a penalty that would give them a chance at winning the game, it wasn’t to be as a short pass was put to ground and the referee blew the final whistle.
With the team now having a free week for the first time this season, it will allow the coaching team and squad to reflect on and analyse how their return to Yorkshire 2 is going.
However, it’s safe to say that being just four points off second place, the club can’t be too disappointed with the progress so far.
Matchday Squad: Egan, Roberts, Evans, Crotty, Burns-Smith, Earnshaw, Vernon; Burt, Hill, Barrett, Dalton, Black (c), Watson, Hiscock, Nasaqa. Replacements: Scholes, Bender, Holmes.