Words by: Richard Sykes. Picture by: Rowena Burridge
Huddersfield earned their second National 2 North win beating Yorkshire rivals Wharfedale in a close fought battle at Lockwood Park. Two converted tries and a penalty gave them the advantage in a lively first half, with another penalty at the death sealing a 20-14 victory.
Director of rugby Gaz Lewis described his team’s performance as “excellent” and added: “Today we started to see a bit of the Huddersfield DNA once again.
“We played to our game plan and every player came up with a big contribution. The scrummage laid the foundation and we controlled field position with an excellent kicking game.
“I was really pleased with the way the lads dug in for each other when, for a large part of the game, we were reduced to 14 players.”
An eventful first 10 minutes produced 16 points and the first of three yellow cards which referee Conor Boyle showed to Huddersfield players.
Field were off the mark in the first minute, after Dale knocked on from the opening kick. A penalty followed the scrummage and fly-half Will Milner opened his account. Three minutes later Dale were back on terms when their fly-half, Tom Mann, landed a penalty from 40 metres out.
Field full-back Tom Lee was the architect of the first try. From the re-start he pouched the high ball and launched a magnificent 50/22 kick. From the attacking lineout hooker Liam Stapley was driven over for a try which Milner converted.
Field flanker Liam Parfitt saw yellow for a high tackle moments later but it wasn’t until his time in the sin bin was almost up that Mann narrowed the gap with a second penalty.
Field produced their best spell mid-way through the first half. Although a couple of long range penalty chances and a try-scoring opportunity went begging Field were not to be denied.
After conceding penalties Dale found themselves defending a lineout inside their 22. Although the set piece was messy, good recovery work by Ed Brown, Loz Sanderson and Lewis Bradley put Field back on the front foot and centre Ed Barber cruised in for a try which Milner converted.
Late in the half Field let their grip on the game slip and found themselves defending inside their 22. Having failed to notch a try with penalty kicks to the corner Dale finally decided to cash in, with a kick at goal, which Mann landed, to bring the first half to an end. Half-time score, 17-9.
Field made a positive start to the second period and pressed hard close to the Dale line. However, a combination of careless hands and penalty concessions enabled the visitors to survive and clear their lines. Thereafter Field’s game became rather scrappy, allowing the visitors to seize the initiative.
Barber was yellow carded on 50 minutes and 14 man Field found themselves scrambling in defence. Dale blew a clear try-scoring chance when a long mis-pass to the right wing was thrown forward, with two players waiting on the overlap.
Parfitt received his second yellow for a deliberate knock on, which referee Boyle had no choice but to convert to red. With only 13 men in action Field were looking vulnerable. Dale prop Matt Beezley scored a try from a catch and drive to reduce the deficit to three points but Mann missed the conversion attempt.
Dale let slip further opportunities when a throw in at a lineout wasn’t straight and when some heroic defence by Field forced a penalty at the breakdown.
When Barber came back on, Field regained their composure and play moved back into the Wharfedale half.
Lee suffered an injury and was replaced at full-back by Cameron Catleugh. Shortly after coming on it looked as though he had scored an opportunist try. Winger Lewis Workman grubbed the ball through and it bounced in goal off the corner post.
Catleugh raced through, dived forward and touched it down. Discussion between Mr Boyle and his assistant resulted in a ‘no try’ decision and play was brought back in field, to where Dale had infringed. Milner landed the penalty from in front of the posts to wrap things up.
The win lifts Huddersfield off the foot of the table and next they travel to Fylde, who are top. Lewis said: “It will be a tough game but we must use this win as a springboard to move forward.”
Huddersfield: Lee; Workman; Law; Barber; Stewart F; Milner; Wilson; Thompson; Stapley; Sanderson; Pearson; Brown; Parfitt; Bradley (capt.); Jennings. Replacements: Effiom; Rollins; Catleugh; Myers; Potter.