Huddersfield RU 12
(National II North)
HUDDERSFIELD’S players, coaches and supporters were once again left feeling frustrated after their latest League defeat at the hands of Bromsgrove.
The despair on the faces at the final whistle was there for all to see after another contest which could quite so easily have gone their way, but in the end left them with a solitary bonus point to show for an afternoon of hard graft.
As head coach Dan Hyde has repeated many times, ‘you can’t teach experience,’ and that’s what Huddersfield were short of at times as they pounded away at a very solid Bromsgsrove defence.
Had this been a boxing contest then Huddersfield might just have shaded a split decision on points.
Granted the visitors were certainly superior in the rolling mauls, which brought them the only try of the game, but Huddersfield did enough, especially in the first half, to suggest they could go on and claim their second win of the season.
Luke Booth continued where he left off the previous week against Bradford and Bingley by confidently stroking over a second-minute penalty, only for Bar Bartlett to level it up a minute later, both sides being caught offside.
Huddersfield were immediately back on the attack from the re-start forcing the visitors to concede a second penalty, and newly-installed kicker Booth – who had popped over four conversions against the Bees – made it six out of six his second three-pointer from a similar spot.
Huddersfield’s pack were pounding into Bromsgrove at this stage with Gareth Lewis, George Hinchliff and Alex Battye making ground at every phase of possession.
And that forced the visitors to go over the top in the ruck in desperation which led to a third Huddersfield penalty, but unfortunately Booth’s accuracy briefly left him, as he missed a chance to extend the lead before Bartlett levelled midway through the half with his second penalty.
Huddersfield continued to have the best of possession, and good field position with which to work from.
But credit to Bromsgrove’s defence for keeping them shy of the tryline despite Field’s best efforts, one of which came from a run down the right wing and an in-field kick from Jack Moon, which skipper Nick Sharpe almost got to over the line – but not quite, while the dancing feet of full-back Tom Owen almost got him through on a number of occasions.
Another penalty shot saw Booth miss his second, while on a rare Bromsgrove attack, Bartlett converted his third effort to take his side in 9-6 at the break.
The visiting forwards began to take a stranglehold in the second half however, and after Bartlett had missed an early penalty, the Bromsgrove pack applied the pressure with a series of strong drives and although Huddersfield stood up well for a time, the inevitable happened on 51 minutes when from another set of powerful surges, full-back Jon Critchlow was on hand to get the game’s only try.
Surprisingly, Bartlett missed the simple conversion, but by now Huddersfield were out of bonus point range and struggling to contain the rampaging Worcestershire pack.
Just past the hour mark, Hyde reshuffled the front row, bringing on Lawrence Sanderson and Tom Davies for Battye and Niall Murphy, while Ben Hoyle came on for Gavin Rhodes.
Booth cut the gap with his third penalty, and with 10 minutes remaining made it a two-point game after the visitors’ Steve Blackburn found himself yellow-carded.
In a final throw of the dice, Hyde came on himself in place of Hinchliff, while Scott Benton replaced Chris Duffy at scrum half as they tried to conjure up what would have been a winning score.
But Huddersfield were doing themselves no favours by losing four scrums against the head inside the last quarter.
They did have one last penalty chance in injury time, but Booth was instructed to kick for touch, which was probably the right call as he was unlikely to have landed the goal attempt from only a yard inside the halfway line.
As it was, they couldn’t gain clear possession from the line-out, and a penalty for the visitors enabled them to boot the ball into touch and time was called on yet another frustrating game.
Huddersfield: Owen; Booth, Clarke, Paxman, Moon, Hinchliffe, Duffy; Stringwell, Murphy, Battye, N Rhodes, G Rhodes, Hinchliff, Lewis, Sharpe. Subs: (all used): Hyde, Davies, Sanderson, Hoyle, Benton.
Referee: Brendan McGaffney (Cheshire).