Huddersfield . . . 15 Loughborough . . . 15
HUDDERSFIELD finally stopped their run of defeats with this draw against Loughborough Students – but in truth they probably felt it was two points lost, rather than two points gained!
For having led 15-3 at the interval, and seemingly on top, they lost their stranglehold in the second half of the contest, and by the finish were left hanging on to what they had got.
With the ball in hand, the Students were undoubtedly the quicker of the two sides, and at times threatened to run their Huddersfield hosts ragged.
However, the home defence responded well to the challenge and, despite all their pace, Loughborough never seriously threatened the tryline in the first period, their only points coming from a fifth-minute penalty from fly-half Paul Trendell as Field conceded several penalties, and were further handicapped by the eighth-minute sin-binnings of prop Tony Stringwell and winger Matt Clarke, who also fell foul of referee Trevor Fisher just before the break and also found himself resting for 10 minutes.
Fortunately for Field, Trendell was on the mark only once in three attempts in the first 10 minutes, while Chris Johnson also pushed a penalty wide.
But gradually Field began to take control, centre James Mortimore being hauled down just short of the line after a good break from full-back Ben Paxman, and then it was the turn of Ben’s brother Lee to set up the games’s first try when he burst through the line.
The ball was worked out to the left flank where Barry Jacobsz supplied the timely try-scoring pass to No8 Nick Sharpe, who plunged over in the corner.
Skipper Mark Whitehead was the next to make inroads when he raced 40-odd yards downfield, only to be stripped of the ball in the tackle.
Field were now enjoying their best passages of play, and on the half-hour mark quick ball out to the right wing fell to Alex Shaw, who cleverly passed inside to the supporting Ben Paxman to go over for an excellent try, to which Johnson added the extras, followed by a penalty to extend their lead.
But as so often as happened this season, one good half was followed by one of indifference, and the Students were quick to take advantage.
Twice in the opening period of the second half the visitors should have scored, Gavin Rhodes intercepting on one occasion and a dropped pass letting Field off the hook on another.
But as the game progressed it was clear to see who was in the ascendancy, so it was no surprise when Loughborough full-back Peter Smith finished off a move in the 62nd minute with a try in the right corner after a kick through which saw the ball sit up nicely for him.
And 10 minutes later the same player was again on the end of a move started by No8 Mike MacFarlane, who proved a real handful most of the afternoon.
This time, however, Smith managed to get nearer to the sticks, leaving Trendell an easy conversion, which brought the game level.
Johnson had a couple of drop goal attempts as he tried to steal the win in the dying moments, but both were wide of the mark, and they had to settle for the draw and two points.
Next Saturday, Huddersfield entertain Leicester Lions at Lockwood Park.
Huddersfield: Paxman (B); Shaw, Paxman (L), Mortimore, Clark; Johnson (C), Hinchliffe; McPhail, Davies (Gough 62); Stringwell, Rhodes, Harris, Jacobsz, Whitehead (Hinchliff 56), Sharpe.
Loughborough Students: Smith; Turner, Alan, Lewis, Lilley, Trendell, Weir, Hobbs, Henry, O’Leary, Bale, Wardon, Hughes, Cullen, MacFarlane.
Referee: Trevor Fisher (Cheshire).