Words by Richard Sykes: Picture: Ray Morris
Huddersfield RUFC made the perfect start to 2022 under the Lockwood Park lights, with a 35-19 bonus point win over a very enterprising Blaydon team.
After going behind early on they produced five tries and dominated the second half, to secure the double over Blaydon and the fourth win of their National 2 North campaign.
The game started at a lively pace with both sides showing a willingness to run the ball. But, with the home side struggling to win their own lineouts, it was the visitors who dominated the early exchanges, taking a deserved lead with a penalty try on 14 minutes.
The solitary score was scant reward for Blaydon’s impressive first half endeavours. Three converted tries by Huddersfield in the second quarter, the first two by centre Lewis Workman, saw the home side go in at half-time a flattering 14 points to the good.
Workman’s first came after a line break by winger Kian Stewart pressured Blaydon into conceding a penalty 10 metres from their line. A quick tap was taken, with the ball being passed swiftly left to right, to create the space for Workman to round the defence.
Ten minutes later a threatening run by Blaydon fly-half Nathan Horsfall came to nought when he lost control of the ball. Huddersfield full-back Tom Hodson ran the ball back with interest and although he hadn’t quite got the pace to go all the way himself he passed the ball inside. Having missed his intended target the ball bounced loose to lock Nick Sharpe, who scooped it up and off loaded to Workman for a simple run in.
Blaydon continued to press but when Huddersfield were awarded a scrum approaching the interval, they were found defensively wanting again. A basic pick up and go from the back of the scrum drew in a solitary defender and a simple pass to Hodson saw him cruise in unopposed behind the posts.
All three Huddersfield tries were converted by Will Milner.
On the stroke of half time Blaydon came close to a second score. From a lineout on the right, a cross field kick to the in goal area ran just out of the reach of winger Jack Appleton. Although Blaydon kept the attacking advantage due to a Huddersfield penalty concession they failed to make anything of it and the score remained 21-7 at the break.
Five minutes into the second half Blaydon got themselves back into the game with a second try. Prop Phil Brantigham set it up with an excellent break and a deft dummy, to put centre Jonny Ashman in under the posts, with scrum-half John Clarkson adding the extras.
Huddersfield replied almost immediately with the bonus point try when Hodson showed the Blaydon defence a clean pair of heels. Milner once again successfully converted.
The score seemed to take the wind out of the visitors’ sails and an energised home team upped their pace and pressed home their advantage. Huddersfield started to dominate the set piece, looking particularly impressive in the scrummage.
With ten minutes to go Blaydon were struggling to hold in a series of scrummages and mauls close to their line. Referee Daniel Woods showed the yellow card to Blaydon hooker Michael Newstead but the team continued to infringe and Huddersfield were awarded a penalty try to round off the scoring.
After the game Huddersfield head coach Gaz Lewis said: “It’s obviously a very important five points for us. Although we were not at our best at times, we showed what we are capable of. I don’t often single out individuals but I thought Tom Hodson, once again, put in an excellent performance at both ends of the pitch.”
Huddersfield: Hodson; Stewart; Workman; Milner; Catleugh; Potter; Mason; Thompson; Stapley; Rollins; Pearson; Sharpe; Parfitt; Bradley; Brown. Replacements: Sanderson; Parkin; Law; Myers; Thornton.