A late comeback wasn’t enough for promotion-chasing Huddersfield Rugby Union Club as they fell to a 30-29 defeat against Beverley in National III North.
Beverley raced into an insurmountable lead, scoring 20 points in the first 20 minutes as they blew Huddersfield well and truly out of the water.
Huddersfield did register a late fightback, spurred on by a red card for Beverley No6 Joseph Pickets. They engineered two last-minute opportunities to seize the lead but both kicks were missed.
Disappointed with the result, first-team manager Lee Paxman felt his side were lucky to get back into the game.
“When you turn up and play like that, what would you expect?” he asked.
“To get two points was a bit of consolation really, but that first 20 minutes was really poor and gave us a mountain to climb to get back into the game.”
Huddersfield are now four points behind league leaders Stockport with two games in hand, knowing that they now have to win their final three games of the season to secure promotion. Huddersfield next travel to face Billingham away.
The match against Beverley at Lockwood Park started at an electric pace with both Beverley centres on the scoreboard within the first 10 minutes.
The first try was scored by Beverley 13 Ruchard Bussy, as Beverley played their way into the Huddersfield 22 with ease.
Huddersfield’s narrow defence was outflanked on several occasions, leaving lots of running room for the Beverley attackers to play with.
Field also missed a substantial number of first-up tackles, handing Beverley the attacking impetus and quick ball.
Through strong forward play, Beverley managed to suck in the Huddersfield defence on their own try line and then send the ball wide to centre Bussy, who ran in over the line between two floundering Field defenders.
With Beverley finding it easy to punch holes in the flailing Field defence, they soon found themselves back in the Huddersfield 22. With field again being sucked into the ruck, Beverley pushed the ball wide with speed, this time to inside centre Tomasi Tanumi who sprinted over the line unopposed.
Two more Beverley penalties and two yellow cards for Field ended possibly the most disappointing half of the season for the promotion chasers, who were 20 points adrift at half time.
The second half started in a much stronger fashion for Huddersfield, with replacement prop Laurence Sanderson carrying what seemed like the Beverley back-three on his back to power over for Huddersfield’s first points.
Both sides then exchanged penalties before Beverley landed what looked like the killer blow.
With Huddersfield trying to secure field position in the Beverley half, they lost ball at the line-out. Beverley played their way out of their own 22 all the way to Huddersfield’s try line with winger George Wood applying the finish.
Although the score was now 30-10, Huddersfield continued to grow into the game and were sparked into life with a try from scrum-half Joel Hinchcliffe.
The turning point which handed all the initiative to Huddersfield was the sending-off of Beverley flanker Pickets for a tip tackle on Gavin Rhodes.
Huddersfield then scored a late double of tries, one for Nick Sharpe, who had winger Michael Clark to thank for bursting through and the other to Tom Hodson to put them jsut a point adrift.
Unfortunately, Hodson missed a difficult touchline conversion but there was to be a final chance for Field. As the clock went dead, precise running and forward play forced a penalty from Beverley which was in their own half. Unfortunately the kick was just out of range for Hodson, who again missed.