Huddersfield RU 22 Fylde 15
(National II North)
HUDDERSFIELD bounced back from last week’s defeat to make it four wins out of five, with what in the end turned out to be a comfortable victory over Fylde at Lockwood Park.
Although Huddersfield scored three good tries, the win was under-pinned by a very solid defensive display, the only lapse coming with a breakaway score from Fylde’s left-winger Oliver Brennand, while a late pushover from prop Andrew Irving would not have come into the reckoning had Wetherby referee Andrew Vertigan not found seven minutes of injury time from somewhere!
The visitors did look lively in the first half and their aggressive approach and ‘bullying’ tactics did tend to unsettle Huddersfield who had to survive some early pressure before taking the lead on 16 minutes.
A good touch-finding kick from fly-half Chris Johnson (one of several he made during the game) got Huddersfield deep down into Fylde territory and after Gavin Rhodes won the line-out, a quick pass out right found Rhodes’ second row partner Ben Harris lurking in the centre position and he reached out over the line for the first score of the match.
Unluckily Johnson’s conversion attempt from near the right-hand touchline and into a fierce wind, struck the upright and bounced out.
Fylde hit back within two minutes however, when the home side went into a ruck with possession, only for Brennand to suddenly burst out it with the ball in hand and streaked down the left touchline, with no-one in range to stop him.
Tom Barlow landed the conversion and eight minutes later put Huddersfield further behind when knocking over a penalty after try-scorer Harris found himself in the sin-bin for interference, the first of four yellow cards brandished by the referee.
Next to go were the two scrum halves, Damian Clayton (Huddersfield) and Craig Aikman after the Fylde man was seen throwing a number of punches into a ruck, while Huddersfield’s No9 followed him into the bin after his attempts as ‘mediator’.
Nevertheless, the ensuing penalty went Huddersfield’s way and Johnson struck a great three-pointer into the wind to drag his side to within two points, 10-8, at the interval.
Johnson pushed an early second half penalty just wide, but with the wind now at the their backs Huddersfield began to take charge, and after steadily building up the pressure, No8 Nick Sharpe put up from the base of a scrum and side-stepped one player, barged over another defender and plunged over the line for a good opportunists score.
Johnson converted to put Field 15-10 ahead, and from that point they rarely looked back.
Fylde were down to 14 again when prop Matt Filipo was sin-binned for repeated interference, and although Johnson surprisingly was off target with the penalty Huddersfield were now firmly in command.
Another booming touch-finder from Johnson took play from inside his own 22 to just outside Fylde’s 22, and when the visitors tried to kick their way out of defence, it was Johnson who collected the ball, spun away from a couple of tackles and off-loaded to skipper Mark Whitehead who sped through the gap and raced 25 yards to go under the sticks, leaving Johnson the easiest of conversions.
Director of rugby Mark Sowerby rang the changes in the last few minutes bringing on fresh legs, in the shape of Francis Entressengle and George Hinchliffe for James Davies and Gareth Lewis, along with Jack McPhail and Adam Sutcliffe for Sam Slater and Matt Clarke, having earlier replaced Clayton with his young understudy Joel Hinchliffe.
Fylde were really at sixes and sevens in the dying stages, but granted a lengthy period of stoppage time they were gifted a bonus point, when virtually the whole team piled in at one last rolling maul and Irving got the consolation score – which was probably more than the deserved.
It was a good win for Huddersfield nevertheless and keeps them well in contention in third place in the table just behind Macclesfield and Caldy.
Huddersfield: Van Vuuren; Ryder, Paxman (B), Paxman (L), Clark (Sutcliffe 70); Johnson, Clayton (Hinchliffe 61); Slater (McPhail 70), Davies (Entressengle 70), Stringwell, Harris, Rhodes, Lewis (Hinchliff 70), Whitehead, Sharpe.
Fylde: Wallwork, Ward, Waywell, Hurst, Brennan, Barlow, Aikman, Irving, Roddam, Filip, Atkinson, King, Smith, Trend, Banks. Subs: Macreavey, Stover, Ferguson, Smith Moore.
Referee: Andrew Vertigan (Wetherby).