Huddersfield RU 28
Bradford & Bingley 21
(Yorkshire Cup, first round)
A MUCH-IMPROVED second-half performance saw Huddersfield safely through to the second round of the Yorkshire Cup following another home victory over Bradford & Bingley.
Huddersfield have entertained the Bees in the county competition for the last three years, and although the visitors briefly threatened to reverse their losing trend on this occasion, in the end it turned out to be a relatively comfortable passage.
The final scoreline tended to flatter Bradford, who were ‘gifted’ a couple of early Christmas presents by benevolent referee Nick Ramsden who adjudged substitute Jason Moss had crossed the line, when he was actually still short of the whitewash, and then granted them a penalty try in injury time.
The second gift was even worse than the first, as the Huddersfield captain may have been guilty of ‘interfering’ with the ball carrier, but there were still sufficient numbers of his teammates between the Bradford player and the tryline to make his scoring attempt highly unlikely.
But there were a number of positives for assistant coach Scott Benton (in charge for the holidaying Dan Hyde) to take away from this cup tie, not least the performances of hooker Tom Davies (making a very impressive first team debut) and newcomer Rob Meakins, who came on as a second-half substitute.
Another big plus for Huddersfield was possibly the emergence of a new goalkicker, with winger Luke Booth confidently slotting over the conversions to all four tries.
Three of them were pretty straight-forward, but the fourth and final two-pointer was from a good distance and angled away from the sticks and drew appreciative nods from the spectators.
Huddersfield were guilty of some poor handling and shocking passing in the first half, when they could quite conceivably have scored three or four tries, had it not been for the inability to send out a lateral pass, instead of the ball going yards forward!
The first instance came early in the piece when full-back Tom Owen (again looking good when joining the attack) on this occasion did the hard work to create the overlap but then sent winger Ben Mitchell clear with a forward pass.
Huddersfield did open the scoring on 19 minutes however, when the pack bundled Bradford back over their own line and Gareth Lewis, playing at No8, got the touchdown for his first try of the season.
Booth converted from almost in front of the posts, which is how the score stayed until half-time, Bradford’s only scoring chance having come from a missed penalty by full-back Matt Robinson.
Benton made wholesale changes for the second half, with Chris Duffy replacing Jon Coles, and Joel Hinchliffe switching to No10, while Tony Stringwell came into the front row for Ed Birkhead and Ben Hoyle was replaced by Ross Thornton.
Meakins replaced Lee Paxman at centre, Booth switched to full-back in place of Owen and Alex Brook got a run-out on the wing.
The multiple switches obviously disrupted Huddersfield’s rhythm and Bradford pulled a converted try back from Harry Jeffrey.
But within two minutes Huddersfield were back in front again when a Booth run ended with skipper Nick Sharpe going over from close range for his side’s second try.
Mitchell went close to scoring a third when he danced down the wing, only to be tackled just short, but when the ball was quickly switched across field, Sharpe and Mike Clarke released Brook to scamper round the sticks for another easy conversion for Booth.
Having replaced Lewis, Alex Battye, playing in the unusual position of second row, suddenly broke clear down the centre of the field.
He linked up with his lock partner Nick Rhodes who off-loaded a try-scoring pass to prop Lawrence Sanderson, rumbling 25 yards for a great prop’s try.
Booth struck a very good conversion, and apart from the last couple of late hiccups, it was a case of ‘job done.’
Huddersfield: Owen; Mitchell, Clarke, Paxman, Booth, Coles, Hinchliffe; Sanderson, Davies, Birkhead, N Rhodes, Sharpe, Hinchliff, Hoyle, Lewis. Subs (used) Battye, Stringwell, Thornton, Duffy, Meakins, Brook.