By Richard Sykes
Huddersfield failed to reproduce their recent match form and Wharfedale ran out deserved 20-12 winners from the festive Yorkshire derby at Lockwood Park.
Although Dale arrived one place and one point above Field in the National 2 North table, the home side had high hopes of reversing that position after their strong showing in their three previous games.
Huddersfield head coach Gaz Lewis said: “I am bitterly disappointed with how we performed. It was definitely an opportunity missed.
“Full credit to Wharfedale, who had a very well organised defence, but we didn’t impose ourselves on the game and challenge them in a way I know we can. We will reflect and and come back stronger.”
Field started the match brightly and held possession for the first five minutes. Full-back Tom Hodson set up an attacking position, with an excellent 50/22 kick, and the team worked patiently through several phases. The Dale defence held firm before conceding a penalty in front of the posts, which was slotted home by Will Milner to give his side a three point lead.
Dale then eased in front with two unconverted tries. The first came on 13 minutes, after Huddersfield were pegged back by a penalty to the 5 metre line. From the lineout, the ball was passed wide and winger, Brad Viner, went over for the try in the left hand corner.
Ten minutes later Ryan Hamilton crossed, in the opposite corner, at the end of an excellent break away from forty metres out.
Field were struggling in the scrummages against a solid Dale pack and their lineout was beset with problems. The failure to get any brisk, set piece ball meant they couldn’t establish their rhythm and build any threatening, forward momentum, although there was no shortage of effort.
When in possession Field were halted well short of the line by some resolute Dale defending but two more successful penalties by Milner narrowed the gap to just one point at the half-time interval.
Huddersfield made a lively and determined start to the second half and created attacking opportunities, with a couple of penalty kicks to touch, deep inside the Wharfedale half. However, their lineout continued to misfire and the match developed into a dour, attritional grind.
Milner landed his fourth successful penalty on the hour to re-take the lead but his team’s efforts to increase it met with the same stiff resistance.
In the final quarter Field were forced back, deep into their own 22. When they attempted to clear from behind a try line ruck, Viner charged the kick down and ran through to dot down for Dale’s third and final try.
Full-back Will Davidson landed the difficult conversion and a few minutes later an equally difficult penalty. This left the home side needing two scores to win the game, with time running out.
The match ended with Will Milner attempting to salvage a losing bonus point for Huddersfield with a penalty kick from 45 metres out, which turned out to be his only miss of the afternoon.