Amateur RU: League season ends in disappointing fashion for Huddersfield
Huddersfield RU 6
(National II North)
HUDDERSFIELD’S League campaign sadly fizzled out in a miserable Lockwood Park mudbath which proved to be an unwelcome warm-up for tomorrow night’s Yorkshire Cup semi-final clash with Wharfedale.
After such a sterling performance the previous week against a tough Preston side, this National II finale proved to be the antithesis, as the pack found themselves pushed from pillar to post for most of the contest.
Given the underfoot conditions it was never going to be pretty, but it was the same for both sides, and Stockport were clearly the better side, both in the set-piece and in open play, where they did at least try to provide some open rugby.
Huddersfield too frequently plugged away down the middle, and for long periods were starved of possession – they didn’t get their hands on the ball in the first 10 minutes – and when they did get scent of the ball it was too often kicked away aimlessly.
The danger signs were there for all to see early doors, when Stockport got over the Huddersfield tryline with a rolling maul, and after consultation with his linesman referee Will Halford awarded the touchdown to prop Andy Fuller on seven minutes.
Mr Halford continued to help Stockport stay on top with an 8-1 penalty count in the visitors’ favour and the sin-binning of Ben Paxman for a ‘technical’ offence, and with so much possession and good field position, it was inevitable that Stockport were going to add to their tally, and when Adam Lancaster missed a tackle, full-back Mike Barlow skipped through for their second try.
Neither was converted by No10 Josh Longmore, and when Chris Johnson knocked over a penalty four minutes before the break Huddersfield could count themselves lucky to be still in the contest at just 10-3 down at the interval.
The referee did try to level things up a bit when Stockport hooker Tom Cruse was sin-binned, followed a few minutes later by a second yellow card for skipper Dave Marwick, both for foul play, and Johnson kept his side in the match with a second penalty on 47 minutes.
Huddersfield then enjoyed their best spell of the game when a great break from Johnson almost produced a try for centre Mike Clark, but he was brought down eight yards short of the line, and that was about as near as the home side came to scoring a try.
Francis Entressengle was the next player to find himself in the ref’s book, when he was also sin-binned as the clash became an arm-wrestle in the cloying conditions.
George Hinchliff went on in the second row, while coach Dan Hyde made a brief appearance before having to leave the field with an injury.
Stockport were now bossing the set pieces and should have scored again when they pushed the Huddersfield pack back some 30-odd yards at a rolling maul, only to be held up over the line by some desperate defence.
But it was only a temporary reprieve as on their next play, Halford awarded the visitors a penalty try after further pressure on the line, and substitute kicker Zavallis Roebuck converted for a 17-6 lead.
It was a poor way to end what has been a successful season for Huddersfield, and gave a stark warning as to what may happen tomorrow night when they entertain Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Cup semi-finals, unless they can find a way to stiffen up the front row.
Huddersfield are holders of the trophy.
Huddersfield: Owen; Ryder, Clarke, B Paxman, Hall; Johnson, Hinchliffe, Armitage, Lancaster, Davies, Birkhead, Rhodes, Entressengle, Hoyle, Sharpe. Subs: Gough, Hinchliff, Hyde, Knight, Rothery.
Referee: Will Halford (Northumberland).