By Richard Sykes
The week began with the playing fields at Lockwood Park under water after the neighbouring River Holme burst its banks. It ended with a frustrating 7-10 defeat for Huddersfield at the hands of Chester. It was a game that the home side looked poised to win midway through the match.
Happily, the elevation of the main pitch meant that it was spared the inundation and a drying wind in the days preceding the game had left the playing surface in reasonable condition. After two consecutive match cancellations, Huddersfield were able to take to the field for their first game since February 5.
At the end of the match Huddersfield head coach Gaz Lewis said: “For the vast majority of the match we held our defensive line and kept our discipline.
“We had the lion’s share of possession, so to go down by such a close margin is bitterly disappointing. At this level you must convert your pressure into points, we weren’t able to do that and Chester capitalised on this. We can take lots of positives out of the game but it is one we should have won.”
Honours were even at the end of a fairly uneventful opening quarter as the teams tested each other out. Huddersfield then started to assert themselves over the second 20 minutes, with much of the play taking place in Chester’s red zone.
Will Milner had a go at goal with a difficult penalty on 25 minutes but the greasy surface underfoot led to change in team tactics. Subsequent kicks were sent to touch, with the team opting for the catch and drive from the lineouts. As the first half drew to close Huddersfield were camped on the Chester line.
Chester fly half, Liam Reeve, was sent to the sin bin for infringing at a ruck near the posts two minutes from half time. Field opted to chance their arm with the scrummage option from the penalty, instead of taking an easy three points with a kick at goal. Fourteen man Chester held firm and the first half finished scoreless.
Field kept up the pressure after the interval. Winger Kian Stewart had a scoring chance from a break up the right from quick ball behind a solid scrum. Unfortunately he lost his footing as he stepped inside to round his marker.
Full back Tom Hodson set up a threatening attacking position with an excellent 50/22 kick moments later. The ball was passed right to left across the full width of the pitch but the chance went begging when the ball was knocked on at the breakdown.
The deadlock was finally broken on 50 minutes. Another good scrum provided the platform. The ever lively Stewart spotted a gap in the centre and cut through for a good try. Milner landed the conversion to create a seven-point lead which Field looked well placed to build on.
Chester produced their best spell of play at the beginning of the final quarter. Having narrowed the gap with a penalty by Reeve on 68 minutes they produced the match winning scores three minutes later.
Replacement scrum half, Jonathan Roberts, created the impetus for the revival with some brisk work to put his team on the front foot. A cross field kick shifted the direction of attack, Chester did well to retain possession, and the ball was passed back in field.
Roberts nipped through Field’s defensive line but was tackled short of the line. The ball was retained at the breakdown and lock James Lloyd crashed over for a try from close range which Reeve converted.
Field returned to the attack as the final minutes ticked away. Although they established some promising positions they were unable to capitalise on them and Chester hung on for the win.