Huddersfield found the challenge of Hull Ionians’ pack and the refereeing of Brendan McGaffney a little too much to handle as they suffered a 29-14 home defeat to the in-form National II North pacesetters.
It was always going to be tough for the men from Lockwood Park to match the scrummaging and line-out skills of an opponent boasting Yorkshire’s full front row.
But what made it nigh on impossible was having to also contend with a match official who seemed intent on punishing the hosts at virtually every opportunity.
It was pretty harsh to award Hull Ionians two penalty tries as Huddersfield tried everything within their power to prevent the visitors barging over from scrums, while it appeared even harsher to send four Huddersfield players to the sin-bin at various times during what became an increasingly scrappy and frustrating affair.
Three of the yellow cards were shown for scrum offences, with Ben Hoyle, Lawrence Sanderson and Richard Brown deemed the guilty men.
But the one presented to James Purcell for an apparent dangerous tackle was laughable. Even the Ionians contingent looked bemused by that one.
Yet even though Huddersfield had so much going against them – something that also wasn’t helped by the fifth-minute departure of strike utility back Tom Hodson with a should injury – they still made a genuine fist of it.
In the opening 15 minutes, they were by far the better team.
They were unlucky not to take the lead after three minutes when great work from Dave Hall sent Ben Mitchell racing away, but he couldn’t find the tryscoring pass for Hodson.
But their early endeavours were rewarded in the 12th minute when Joel Hinchliffe’s lovely reverse pass close to the line sent Nick Sharpe charging through the gap his ball had created. Hinchliffe converted, and it was 7-0.
Unfortunately, the tide began to turn as soon as Chris Reakes added his side’s first points with a penalty.
That brought the men from East Yorkshire to life, with their pack all of a sudden taking complete control.
Two scrums were won against the head before the growing pressure forced Hoyle to have a 10-minute breather and the first penalty try was conceded in the 35th minute to make it 10-7 at the break.
And this proved a taste of second-half things to come.
With the Hull side’s forwards proving so effective, they opted for a midfield war of attrition, paving the way for the three Huddersfield sin-binnings and a second penalty try in the 55th minute.
This was followed by a third visitors’ try 10 minutes later when Danny Hague touched down from a strong rolling maul.
At 22-7 it was virtually game over.
Elliot Hodgson did give Huddersfield late hope by picking up a loose ball on half way and sprinting away to score under the posts for Chris Bell to convert with six minutes remaining.
But the visitors had the last laugh as Sam Wilson followed Hodgson’s lead to scorch away for a long-range try and rub salt into the home side’s wounds.
After the way they had battled in the face of such adversity, it was cruel in the extreme.
Huddersfield: Hodson; Hodgson, Mitchell, Owen, Hall; Bell, Hinchliffe; Purcell, Thornton, Battye, Thompson, Malthouse, Lewis, Hoyle, Sharpe. Subs: Brown, Jeffrey, Walker, Clarke, Sanderson.
Hull Ionians: Bateman; Wilson, Reakes, Barker, Slingsby; Ferguson, Thomas; Quigley, Thompson, Johnson, Makin, Sanders, Hague, Birch, Cowen. Subs: Rice, Carty, Kench, Green, Johnson.
Referee: Brendan McGaffney (Wirral).