By Richard Sykes
Huddersfield delivered a dynamic and determined display at Lockwood Park to dent the title aspirations of Rotherham Titans and boost their own hopes of not finishingnear the bottom of the division. .
In a game that sparkled with champagne rugby moments, Field scored six tries to win 36-31. It was Nick Sharpe who was the hero at the end as he scored a try in the final minute to give Field a brilliant victory in one of the biggest upsets of the National 2 North season.
The former Premiership team arrived in second place in the table, having lost only two of their previous 25 games. Unfazed by the 12 place difference in league standings, Huddersfield took the game to the visitors and more than matched them in all respects. They secured the bonus point with four first half tries and wrapped up the game in dramatic style in the closing moments.
Huddersfield head coach Gaz Lewis described the performance as one of the best in his nine years in charge. He said: “As a group we sensed an upset was on the cards. After a fantastic first half, in which we controlled the tempo and managed the game superbly, we knew the Titans would hit back. This was a great team effort and we showed amazing resilience and character to come out on top.”
Titans were swiftly out of the blocks and took the lead with a try by centre Jamie Cooke in the first minute. Field’s response was immediate. Some enterprising play put the Titans on the back foot, forcing a penalty, which was kicked to touch. From the lineout Field set up a rolling maul which ended with a try by prop Callum Thompson, converted by Will Milner from wide out.
Field maintained their momentum and after some promising interplay between forwards and backs, they increased their lead on fifteen minutes. Full back Tom Hodson took a catch from a clearance kick and made good ground, with winger Sam Nunn in support. Nunn was brought down just short and lock, Nick Sharpe, took the off load to crash over for an unconverted try.
From the re-start hooker, Liam Stapley, made a dramatic 40 metre break but he was tackled metres from the line and the scoring chance eventually went begging after a forward pass.
A powerful surge by the Titans at the end of the first quarter took play to the Hudderfield try line. Although the home side mounted a sterling defence of it, No8, Ed Brown, was yellow carded for a technical infringement at the ruck. From the penalty Titans opted to scrummage and their No8, Kieron Curran, cashed in on the team’s one man advantage with a try. Fly half Joe Carlisle added the extras to draw his team level.
In a dramatic end to the first half Huddersfield re-established the lead with two more tries, both of which were converted by Milner. Winger Kian Stewart celebrated his 50th game for Field with the first of them, rounding off a back line move on the overlap, after some slick passing by Nunn and Hodson.
Nunn got the second one, the scoring move began with a superb leap and catch of a high ball by fly half Matt Law. The ball was recycled quickly and taken forward by Brown, whose ground breaking work was finished off by Nunn close to the posts, leaving the score 26-12 at the interval.
After ten minutes of play in the second half Titans were right back in the game. Tries by centre Harry Dunn and winger George Tucker, the first of which was converted by Carlisle, narrowed the gap to just two points. A poor clearance kick had gifted Titans front foot ball and inspite of some good last ditch tackling by Field, Dunn managed to break through for the first score. The second one came after a penalty put Titans 10 metres from the Huddersfield line, with Tucker dotting down behind the drive from the lineout.
Minutes later, an excellent line break by Field flanker, Harvey Keighley-Payne forced play back into the Titans’ red zone. Hodson continued the move and when he was hauled down Titans knocked on. Field rocked the Titans pack at the scrummage and from the penalty concession they kicked to touch. Thompson touched down for his second try from the catch and drive to put his team seven points clear going into the final quarter.
As the minutes ticked away the game produced some dramatic final twists. The Titans hit back and Field mounted a heroic defence on their try line. Having survived the onslaught they just needed to retain possession to see out the match, but when they lost it on half way they were made to pay. Titan’s lock Lewis Allan crashed over for a try, which Carlisle converted to draw the scores level.
With time almost up Field mounted one final thrust, which ended with Brown grubbing the ball through and into touch inside the Titans 22. Titans overthrew their lineout ball and Field seized the moment. In an instant they were pressing on the Titans try line and when the ball was recycled Sharpe was on hand to burst through for the match winning score.
Huddersfield: Hodson; Stewart; Workman; Milner; Nunn; Law; Mason; Thompson; Stapley; Smith; Pearson; Sharpe; Keighley-Payne; Bradley; Brown. Replacements: Davis; Walker; Catleugh; Potter; Brook L.