DELIGHTED player-coach Mark Sowerby led the tributes to ice-cool Chris Johnson, whose boot helped Huddersfield book a place in the second round of the EDF National Cup.
On so many occasions, the Lockwood Park club have looked to their talented young fly-half to get them out of trouble.
And in the West Yorkshiremen’s 20-17 triumph over Cambridge club Shelford it was again Johnson who made all the difference.
With 12 minutes remaining, the visitors were 17-14 ahead and desperate to hold on to what they had got. But, in the blink of an eye, Johnson had levelled matters with a drop goal before firing his side ahead two minutes later with the match-winning penalty.
Although both sides had late chances to add to their tallies, it was Johnson who had the final say – not that it came as much of a surprise to the relieved Sowerby.
“There were a number of reasons why I think we edged it in the end,” said the club’s director of rugby.
“One of them was definitely our extra fitness, but another was obviously Chris Johnson.
“Even when we were 17-14 behind in the closing stages there was never really any sense of panic.
“We always knew it would be a case of giving the ball to Johnno to take care of things.
“That’s exactly what happened.
“This may not have been our best performance in the world. Workmanlike is probably the way I would describe it. But we won, we’re through to the next round, and we owe a lot of that to Chris.”
Sowerby is certainly spot-on on all accounts.
With the October drizzle making the ball like a bar of soap, the ball handling left much to be desired.
Unfortunately, it was Field who seemed to suffer most, with several promising breaks losing momentum with spilt ball.
Shelford were little better, however, with former Super League rugby league player Michael Smith, at inside centre, and full-back Dominic Jones posing their biggest threat. And it was on the back of some of their work that the London I side had built up a 14-6 lead after 37 minutes.
Two Johnson penalties gave the home side the ideal start.
But tries from Gavin Hogg and Liam Deards – on the back of Huddersfield errors – and two Jones conversions put Shelford in the driving seat.
Fortunately, on the stroke of half-time, Johnson and Gavin Rhodes combined superbly to send Alex Shaw racing in at the corner to make it 14-11 and the tide began to turn. By the 53rd minute, the sides were level as Johnson added penalty No3. It was looking promising.
But the doubt began to creep in when Jones regained the lead for his side with a penalty three minutes later.
At that stage, Shelford must have fancied their chances.
Johnson, however, had other ideas.
Huddersfield: Ainsworth; Scrimshaw, Paxman (B), McLaren, Shaw; Johnson, Clayton; Howard, Davies, Stringwell, Hinchliff, Rhodes, Sharrock, Whitehead, Sowerby. Subs: Pollock, Gough, Mortimore, Paxman (L).
Shelford: Jones; Lamas, Hogg, Smith, Deards; Low, Birkby; Arnold, Ronaki, Barrett, Mills, Macaulay, Thornton, Jackowski, Tovo. Subs: Giddings, White, Saunders, Anderson.
Referee: Marcus Caton (Derby).