By Richard Sykes
Huddersfield RUFC have room for improvement after going down 20-15 in a closely-fought contest at home to Sheffield Tigers in National 2 North.
Despite Huddersfield coming from behind and nudging in front it was the visitors who took home all the points.
After the game Huddersfield’s director of rugby Gaz Lewis said: “If we’d converted our pressure into points at the end it wouldn’t have been a fair reflection of the game. We simply didn’t fire enough shots, due to unforced errors, inconsistent kicking and not capitalising in key areas.
“However, there were plenty of positives. Our defensive system held up for most of the game and, at times, we played with width and pace. We must reflect and work hard to make improvements.”
Huddersfield had come from behind to take a slender lead approaching the final quarter but two tries in quick succession sealed the game for the visitors.
Having led 7-5 at the interval Tigers missed two gilt-edged chances to increase their lead straight after the break. When Huddersfield hooker Liam Stapley was penalised at the breakdown in front of the posts, Tigers’ fly-half Tom Farrell missed the simplest of kicks.
Moments later Tigers’ full-back Greg Mellor broke clear after a deft chip and catch, with Jamie Broadley offering a one man overlap. Mellor’s pass was ponderous, giving Huddersfield winger Fin Stewart time to make the try-saving tackle and his team the opportunity to clear their lines.
Huddersfield capitalised straight away. When play returned to half way, full-back Tom Hodson broke clear, his pass finding flanker Lewis Bradley on the right wing. Bradley outpaced the chasing defenders and cruised in for a try. Fly-half Joe Potter added the conversion to give the home side a 12-10 lead on 48 minutes.
Tigers’ match winning tries came just before the hour mark. Flanker Angus Hughes scored the first of them. Huddersfield were penalised at a scrummage, which led to a 5 metre lineout, and Hughes was driven over in the maul near the corner flag.
Industrious open side, Jack Baldy, was the architect of Tigers’ final score. Having broken clear with a fine solo run, he put hooker Louis Townend in for the simplest of tries.
Farrell’s attempts to land the difficult conversions failed, leaving Huddersfield the chance of stealing the spoils.
The match had begun with the teams testing each other out with probing kicks, as they endeavoured to settle and establish their patterns of play. But, early season errors plagued both sides and neither managed to achieve a consistent rhythm, with the scores in the game stemming from individual moments, rather than sustained periods of team pressure.
Tigers’ were first off the mark, with a try by Broadley on 13 minutes. Huddersfield had been pegged back to 10 metres by a penalty and, when the drive infield was halted, Tigers’ were awarded the scrummage. The setpiece was solid and the ball was fed wide to Broadley, who went in at the corner. Farrell landed the difficult conversion.
Huddersfield hit back five minutes later. Centre Lewis Workman started a move with a splendid solo break. His pass found pacy winger Kian Stewart, who went in at the corner for an unconverted try.
The first half ended with little for the crowd to get excited about, but there was drama aplenty at the end of the second.
Having gone behind Huddersfield battled hard to get back on terms towards the end of the match. When Tigers’ prop Will Bennett was yellow carded for a technical infringement with seven minutes to go they had their chance.
As time ticked away Huddersfield pressed, and Will Milner landed a penalty to narrow the gap to five points. With full-time almost up, the home side were camped on the Tigers’ 5 metre line and looked set to cash in on their one man advantage.
However Tigers, who had targeted Huddersfield’s breakdowns with vigour throughout the game, secured turnover ball and kicked it off the field to secure the win.