Words: Richard Sykes – Match images by: Mike Inkley
It was a family affair for Huddersfield RUFC as winger Kian Stewart scored four tries and his brother Fin added the clincher in a 39-27 victory over Rotherham Titans.
In an enthralling classic at Lockwood Park, which produced some dramatic twists and turns, Huddersfield ran out worthy winners to claim a bonus point.
The Stewart brothers – the sons of former Huddersfield Town star Marcus Stewart – are the men in form with Fin scoring a hat-trick last week against Blaydon.
Huddersfield’s director of rugby, Gaz Lewis, said: “I’m delighted with the effort all 20 of the boys put in. What pleased me most was how we got through the periods of pressure. We showed our maturity as a team.
“We’ve come a long way in the last couple of months. Our confidence is growing and we’re on a bit of a roll. We have made Lockwood Park a difficult place to come and play.
“Kian was fantastic. Before the game he was saying it’s been a while since he’s scored, then he goes and gets four. Incredible!”
The match started quietly with a fairly uneventful first quarter in which the two teams exchanged penalties. Field fly-half Will Milner landed the opener on 15 minutes, a howitzer from 45 metres out, with the equaliser coming from Titans’ full-back Richard Hayes five minutes later.
Titans had started the stronger of the two teams, gaining good ball from the setpiece but their attacking moves faltered and fell victim to knock-ons and carelessness which allowed Field to grow into the game.
Things really began to tick for the home side on 22 minutes. Field stole ball from a Titans’ lineout on half way, with Lewis Bradley and Ed Brown making penetrating runs. The ball was worked through some solid phases and, although it was knocked on, on the Titans’ 22 Field’s self belief had become noticeable.
Field remained on the front foot and on the half hour Milner cut lose from midfield. He passed to scrum-half Joe Potter who continued with Ed Barber in support and he released Kian Stewart on the left wing to race in for the first of his tries, which Milner converted.
Moments later a penalty, earned at the scrummage took Field to within 10 metres of the Titans’ line. Milner featured once again and when it looked like another try was on the way Titans’ prop Charles Capps halted proceedings illegally and was shown the yellow card. Milner took the points from the penalty in front of the posts.
Either side of half-time the game swung Titans’ way and they took the lead. Just before the interval 14-man Titans produced a strong passage of play. Points from a penalty were turned down in favour of a kick to the corner and when the ball was worked in field the tactic paid off, with flanker Rupert Kay coasting in for a try which Hayes converted with ease to make the half-time score 13-10.
After the break Hayes landed an equalising penalty and shortly afterwards, when Field were penalised again in front of their posts, Titans’ No8 Zak Poole caught them by surprise with a quick tap, bustling over for a try with Hayes landing the kick at goal.
Midway through the second half the game ignited with Kian Stewart scoring three more tries in a blistering 11-minute spell. The first followed a strong Field scrummage, the ball went wide, Stewart grubbed through and chased and gathered his kick to run in the score.
The game re-started with a penalty to Huddersfield soon after and Stewart went sprinting down the left wing to complete his hat-trick.
Stewart’s fourth came after good work by Barber following up a high ball. After an athletic catch he broke clear with open ground in front of him and Stewart on his shoulder. Having received the pass Stewart raced in, his speed making it look as everyone else on the pitch was standing still. Milner converted two from three.
With a comfortable 12-point lead the Lockwood Park faithful were starting to feel at ease but Titans weren’t quite done. After another enterprising tap and go penalty, centre Callum Bustin crossed for a try and Hayes’ conversion reduced the deficit to five points with eight minutes still on the clock.
The nail-biting was finally ended with five minutes to go. Full-back Tom Hodson hoisted a high ball from inside his own half, Fin Stewart raced onto it and cut inside for the final try, leaving everyone else trailing in his wake. Milner rounded off a fine personal performance with another successful kick.
Next week Huddersfield travel to Wharfedale, who are three places above them in the table. The recent form book suggests that the match will be a close contest.