Broadstreet Rugby Football Club’s Ivor Preece Field, Binley Woods, was the venue for visiting Huddersfield RFC’s six game winning streak coming to an end, as the home side’s barnstorming second half comeback gave them victory by 25 points to 21, despite trailing 3 – 16 at the break. A twenty two point burst of scoring in a twenty two minute period after half time saw the scoring of three well taken tries by Nathan Tilsley, Gareth Turner and Jack Gibbons and seven points from the boot of fly-half Ben Palmer; prove enough to give ‘Street an essential four points win, despite Huddersfield grabbing a late try to set up a nerve jangling finale, writes Bob Harcourt.
The start of the game saw Huddersfield, full of confidence and egged on by their expectant and vociferous supporters, in the ascendancy. The second half was mostly ‘Street; but the finish, however, brought back memories of Harrogate ’s last-second win back in October, with Huddersfield being held up on the line in their last ditch attempt to steal a win. Importantly, ‘Street move a little closer to safety in eleventh and fifty points; as those at the bottom of the league, with the exception of Hull, fell short.
Huddersfield, buoyed by a six-match winning sequence started the stronger as ‘Street’s indiscipline allowed them little possession or territory and, although the home defence mostly remained defiant, Huddersfield’s Joel Hinchcliffe punished indiscretions with three penalties goals, to add to a Benjamin Hoyle try, converted by Hinchcliffe; on the back of a break down the right flank by sizeable winger David Hall.
Visiting official, Luis Cavaglia from Uruguay, tested players’ and spectators’ understanding alike, with some interesting interpretations of the breakdown laws and it took ‘Street, particularly, forty minutes; ten penalties and a yellow card, to get to grips with the tackle, release, place, jackal sequence, as permutations prevailed. Three Ben Palmer points on the board in a first half nightmare was all that could be managed in the first half hour. But get to grips ‘Street did, as they showed their true worth in rattling up 22 points in 22 minutes, to catch and overhaul the visitor’s 16 – 3 half-time lead.
Aptly named, replacement back row forward, Gareth Turner turned the tide as he stole Huddersfield possession inside ‘Street’s 22 metre area; sending his backs off on a eighty metre sprint down the right-hand flank for right winger Nathan Tilsley, ably assisted by full-back Ben Cooper, to score the try of the match. Ben Palmer coolly converted to pull the home side back to 10 – 16 with five minutes of the re-start played. ‘Street dominated the next fifteen minutes and from a penalty lineout in the right corner, Turner guided the ensuing maul ten metres to the line, as he made the five point grounding. Palmer converted from wide; 17 – 16 to ‘Street with 21 minutes to go.
Four minutes later, the ever-strengthening dominance of ‘Street’s play saw Huddersfield defence in disarray in their 22 metre area, as Beau Carney (on for first-half injured Luke Myring) and James Otutaha made good ground and when the ball was switched wide to the right; in-form number 8 Jack Gibbons outpaced the visiting threequarters, on his diagonal charge to the line. Palmer narrowly missed the add-ons, 22 – 16; but he made no mistake with a penalty shot three minutes later, to push ‘Street on to a 25 – 16 lead with thirteen minutes remaining.
‘Street pressed again and forced a Huddersfield five metre scrum. The eight picked up, was tackled around the ankles by scrum half Nick Thatcher and in lying vulnerably; a ‘Street back-rower had an open steal, but instead, the penalty was, unaccountably, awarded to the defending team. Pressure relieved!
Huddersfield, seeing their winning streak in danger, fought back and, aided by two successive penalty awards, got to a left-hand corner penalty lineout; where a driving maul by their large pack gained them an unconverted touch-down for 23 stone, second-row giant, Austen Thompson; 25 – 21, and four minutes to go. A break by impressive winger Hall saw the visitors go dangerously close to ‘Street’s line. Then, in what seemed another fair one-on-one steal by centre James Otutaha, it mystifyingly earned him a yellow card. From the resulting penalty scrum, Huddersfield edged closer with a series of pick and go lunges for the home line, but heroically, the home defence would not yield and a welcome “No side” whistle brought the match to an end.
Squad: Ben Cooper; Nathan Tilsley, James Otutaha, Luke Myring, Andy Murray; Ben Palmer, Nick Thatcher; Joe Foreman, Stewart Pearl, Henry Sandys; Daniel Wright, Matthew Solomon; Chris Wood, Jamie Harrop, Jack Gibbons. Jake Dodd, Michael Worthington, Aaron Crofts, Gareth Turner, Beau Carney.
Thought for The Game:
Given Huddersfield’s run of six wins on the trot, this was a match that the pundits favoured would go the visitor’s way and at half time that prediction was on course. But, when the gravity-challenged lady started to sing, the perceived ‘underdogs’ had prevailed! How come? Again, it was a question of mind over matter! We have the matter; ability is in abundance, but, it is the harnessing ability that challenges all sportspersons at all times. A combination of good discipline, [eventually]; adapting to the vagaries of law application [eventually], and an increasing self-belief is how the win was secured. Well done lads, but rest not – the corpulent lady has not finished singing, just yet!