Huddersfield RU 13
(National II North)
TWO coats of paint and a gust of wind cost Huddersfield what would have been their ninth consecutive victory at a breezy Ferens Road ground on Humberside.
With Huddersfield trailing by two points going into the last minute of the game, Chris Johnson had a penalty chance to snaffle victory with the final kick of the match, but his 40-yard attempt bounced up off the crossbar, and just as it seemed the forward momentum would carry the ball over for the winning points, a sudden gust of wind blew the ball back into play, and a Hull hand touched it down over his own line to signal the end of play and Huddersfield’s first defeat since October 22.
In truth, this was wasn’t one of Field’s most dominant performances, certainly in the first half when playing with the benefit of the wind behind them, they led just 7-3 at the break, thanks to a seventh-minute Adam Ryder try in the left corner.
Johnson knocked over the conversion from close to the touchline (probably his most difficult kick of the afternoon) but unfortunately, failed to land five other penalty chances, which on another day would surely have seen Huddersfield home and dry.
The swirling wind definitely made place-kicking difficult, and twice took Johnson’s penalties wide inside the first three minutes as Field enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges.
But they did open the scoring four minutes later, when good work by the forwards claimed possession on Hull’s 22, and when the ball was whipped out left, Michael Clark off-loaded to supporting full-back Tom Owen who sent Ryder in near the corner flag.
However, if Huddersfield had the lion’s share of possession in the opening quarter, it was Hull’s turn to take command in the second quarter, and only some excellent defence and a couple of dropped passes kept the Humberside outfit to three points at half-time courtesy of a James Cameron penalty.
A leg injury robbed Field of bustling flanker Ben Hoyle, replaced by Francis Entressengle, before a powerful run from second rower Gavin Rhodes took the visitors close, only for the half-time whistle preventing a further score.
A 44th-minute penalty by Johnson extended Huddersfield’s lead to 10-3, and despite losing hooker Ben Morrill to the sin-bin, the visitors again looked to be gaining the upper hand, when, following a good run down the flank by Ryder, Johnson knocked over a second penalty to put his side 10 points clear.
The first significant blow to their hopes came on 57 minutes however, when the referee failed to see Rhodes being stripped of the ball inside Field’s 22, and with the visitors’ players having been sucked into the ruck, quick ball out to Hull captain Cameron saw him ghost past Huddersfield’s solitary defender David Hall and under the sticks for an easy seven-pointer.
Back came Field with a tremendous run from Johnson down the middle of the park, but after being halted, he was unable to slot over the ensuing penalty into the wind.
James Davies and Chris Duffy replaced Alex Battye and Joel Hinchliffe respectively before another threatening Johnson run ended with another penalty chance from almost the same spot as the previous one.
This time, he almost allowed sufficiently for the wind, only for the ball to bounce off the left upright to safety.
And then came the killer blow as Hull launched a last desperate attempt to get something out of the game with barely three minutes remaining.
A series of drives took them to within five yards of Field’s line, where they were awarded two penalties, and instead of going for the tie-settling kick at goal, Cameron put both kicks into touch where they were able to revert to their favoured catch and drive tactics.
And although Huddersfield’s defence kept them out at the first attempt, they were unable to do it a second time and hooker Josh Lamping got the all-important touchdown to put his side ahead for the first time in the match.
Cameron missed the conversion, and from the kick-off Huddersfield moved straight back into Hull’s half and to that final, unfortunate denouement.
Huddersfield: Owen; Ryder, Clark, L Paxman, Hall; Johnson, Hinchliffe (Duffy 67); Battye (Davies 67), Morrill, Stringwell, Hinchliff, Rhodes, Lewis, Hoyle (Entressengle 34), Sharpe. Subs not used: Sutcliffe, Neilly.
Hull: Wigglesworth; Slingsby, Donkin, Godfrey, Piercey; Cameron, M White; Longbone, Lamping, Fullman, C Murphy, P Murphy, Devonshire, Maka, O Cook. Subs: D Cook, David, Campbell, Lewis, Stout.
Referee: James Sullivan (RFU).
NEXT Saturday, Huddersfield entertain League-leaders Loughborough Students at Lockwood Park in a table-topping clash, prior to which there is a Past Players Luncheon in the Waterloo Suite.
Anyone wishing to join them should book directly with the club, by telephoning Lisa, on 01484 469801.