HUDDERSFIELD’s Under 16s could take a massive slice of credit from their 19-15 defeat at the hands of top Lancashire outfit Preston Grasshoppers.
After their original fixture was cancelled, the Lockwood Park side accepted an invitation to visit Hoppers, and matched their illustrious opponents with three tries apiece.
The front three of Nathan Smith, Will Burgess and Lewis Bradley stood out against Preston’s big forwards, while second rowers Liam Johnson, Conor Gundry and No8 Louis Frear made strong penetrating drives, and from a ruck close to the Preston line, Bradley called for a short pass from Ian Nuttall to force his way over for the opening try.
Preston tried to bring their backs into play, but Adnan Nasir, Liam Moran and Elliot Whetham were quick to make covering tackles.
Winger Thomas Wrigley made another great tackle to halt Hoppers progress and then started up an attack, combining with Johnson before he released Elliott Spiers who weaved his way through for Huddersfield’s second.
A half-clearance just before half-time allowed Preston to hit back with a try of their own, which they also converted to trail 10-7 at the break.
Matthew Tate and Thomas Knapton came on in the second half and were quickly into the fray as Preston again poured forwards, before Johnson off-loaded to Frear who broke several tackles, only for the final pass to go to ground.
Midway through the second period Preston took the lead when a missed tackle allowed the home side an overlap, but within three minutes Huddersfield had again regained the lead.
Johnson was again to the fore along with Will Burgess who came within five metres of the line, and having sucked in the home cover, quick hands sped the ball out to Wrigley to cross for a third, unconverted try.
It looked as though that would be sufficient to seal the win, but well into injury time Preston found another chink in the visitors’ defence to score their third and winning try, which again was converted.