Huddersfield RU 13
Dudley Kingswinford 13
(National II North)
THE return of Lee Paxman and Gareth Lewis and a first start for Scott Benton looked as though it might prove to be the catalyst for Huddersfield to break their duck this season.
And indeed, after a lively first half it seemed they were on course for that much-needed first win of the campaign, but in the end the best they could achieve was a draw against a uninspiring Midlands outfit, who were certainly the happier of the two teams at the final whistle.
Coach Dan Hyde’s side showed no lack of resolve in the opening 40 minutes, in which they scored two tries to lead 13-7 at the interval, and but for a poor day with the boot of Tom Owen, could have been almost out of sight.
The full-back missed an early penalty before Dudley took the lead when on their first attack, No8 Jon Tideswell took advantage of a slack tackle from Field’s own No8 Cameron Curry to go over inside the home 22 and fly-half Gareth Bown added the conversion.
Owen was just wide of the mark with a second penalty on 14 minutes, but was given a third opportunity five minutes later, and this time made no mistake from almost in front of the posts.
Huddersfield were now starting to attack strongly, and after a rather speculative kick ahead by stand-off Joel Hinchliffe, the Dudley winger made a complete hash of what should have been a simple clearance and instead Huddersfield centre Mike Clark swooped on the ball to get the try.
Owen failed with the conversion from wide out, but with their noses in front Huddersfield, prompted by Benton, began to surge forward.
And it was from a super break from Benton and winger Jack Moon that Huddersfield set up good field position from where the forwards continued the good work by driving back Dudley into the right-hand corner.
And two plays later, it was Benton who scored a typically cheeky No.9’s try after rounding the base of the scrum to go over by the flag.
Owen was unlucky on this occasion with his kick which bent into towards the posts before shaving the outside of the right-hand upright.
Still at 13-7 ahead as they went off at half-time the signs were encouraging, and the small but enthusiastic crowd were quietly optimistic of seeing a positive result.
Hopes were even higher when the visitors were reduced to 14 men after Tom Bissell was yellow-carded for handling on the floor, but within eight minutes of the re-start, Benton was substituted along with Alex Battye, and the whole dynamic of the game seemed to change.
Bown pulled back three points with a penalty and then winger James Jefferson went over the line in the left corner, only for the referee to disallow it for a forward pass, much to Huddersfield’s relief.
Ben Hoyle came on at flanker in place of Curry, with skipper Nick Sharpe moving into the back row, but any further progress was hampered by the double sin-binning of prop Lawrence Sanderson and Lewis, the second of which allowed Bown to level the match with his second penalty.
With 15 minutes remaining, it looked as though Clark would get his second, and match-winning, try after intercepting just inside Dudley’s half, but he was caught almost on the line, and then gave a penalty away for not releasing and the chance had gone.
Hinchliffe tried a drop goal in the dying seconds, and although impeded, the referee chose not to award a penalty which would have sealed the win, and so both sides had to be content with the draw.
Huddersfield: Owen; Booth, Clark, Paxman, Moon; Hinchliffe; Benton, Battye, Murphy, Stringwell, N Rhodes, Sharpe, Hinchliff, Lewis, Curry. Subs used: Duffy, Sanderson, Hoyle, Hyde.
Referee: Mathew Daubney (Hull).