Huddersfield RU 18
National II North
HUDDERSFIELD produced a truly monumental effort to almost match runaway league-leaders Fylde man for man and earn themselves a deserved bonus point at Lockwood Park.
Indeed, had they not been caught napping in the opening minute of the match, and had referee Mike Cooper been a bit more even-handed with some of his decisions in the second half, then coach Dan Hyde’s side could well have been celebrating a victory over their star-studded red rose rivals.
It was testament to Huddersfield’s tenacious tackling, that they denied Fylde a winning bonus point, becoming one of the very few sides to restrict the Lytham outfit to just three tries.
The signs certainly looked ominous right from the kick-off, when flying winger Oliver Brennand, who has so far notched 16 tries this season skipped out of two tackles to waltz down the touchline for the game’s opening score
But Huddersfield came close to levelling four minutes later, when Chris Johnson fired over a crossfield penalty kick to winger Simon Pratt, only for the Kiwi to juggle and knock the ball forward 10 yards short of the line.
Huddersfield continued to put pressure on the visitors, only for them to break away through full-back Richard Kenyon, who flew past an attempted tackle by centre Mike Clarke and raced away under the sticks, Steve Collins converting for a 12-0 lead after 11 minutes.
Undeterred, Huddersfield drove back into Fylde’s half, and Johnson got his side on the board with a penalty as they continued to take the game to Fylde with a series of powerful drives from Nick Sharpe, Ben Morrill and Lee Paxman.
And when the ball came out to Johnson he whipped out a quick long pass to winger Adam Sutcliffe who beat his cover and went in for a fine try to reduce the deficit to 12-8.
Having soaked up a fair amount of pressure Fylde began to make inroads into Huddersfield’s half, and having held them out for 15 minutes, the defence was finally breached again through tricky scrum half Craig Aikman, who took the ball from a scrum, dived under a tackler and crossed for his side’s third try, Collins again converting.
A tremendous run from prop Alex Battye almost brought an instant reply from Huddersfield, but sadly his attempted pass out of the tackle five yards from the line just evaded home hands.
Fylde were clearly worried by Huddersfield’s tenacity and twice in the second half directed Collins to knock over two penalties instead of running the ball, which has been their hallmark so far this season.
And they were given even more cause for concern when, with 10 minutes remaining, Johnson intercepted a pass inside the visitors’ 22 and raced under the posts, with his conversion bringing his side back to within 10 points of ex-England coach Brian Ashton’s team.
With James Davies on for Battye and David Hall replacing Sutcliffe, Huddersfield renewed their efforts and after getting back inside the Fylde half, the referee at last gave Huddersfield a worthwhile penalty and Johnson slotted it over to seal a richly-deserved bonus point.
Huddersfield – Owen; Sutcliffe (Hall 55), Clarke, Paxman, Pratt; Johnson, Hinchliffe (Rothery 70), Battye (Davies 46), Morrill (Lancaster 70), Stringwell, Brown, Rhodes, Hinchliff (West 60), Lewis, Sharpe.
Fylde – Kenyon, Royle, Waywell, Collins, Brennand, Wallwork, Aikman, Livesey, Roddam, Altham, Arnold, King, Ferguson, Stephenson, Beaumont. Subs: Lavelle, Holmes, Sutherland, McShane, Russell.
Referee – Mike Cooper.
YMCA returned to winning ways with a 31-11 win over Ripon. Full report tomorrow.