Huddersfield’s Academy travelled to Moortown for the Yorkshire Cup Final against York. It was hot, sunny and the pitch was bone dry so a quick game was expected by the large crowd.
York kicked off and Huddersfield’s second rower Bob Sykes caught the ball and drove straight into the heart of the opposition forwards to begin what would be a superb individual performance. Huddersfield moved the ball quickly and were soon in their opponent’s 22 but the first of many glaring overlaps wasn’t used and York managed to clear their lines. Minutes later Huddersfield were awarded a penalty and Sam Hirst stepped up. Unfortunately his kick just missed but from the re-start Huddersfield were once again on the attack.
With the try line beckoning, Huddersfield somehow managed to drop the last pass and once again give York the chance to clear the danger. Huddersfield attacked again, this time moving the ball wide and winger Elliot Knight looked to be in before York’s impressive full back tackled him into touch. Another penalty was soon awarded but again Hirst’s kick just missed. Once again Huddersfield attacked but the ball was knocked on just outside York’s 22 and from the scrum York’s stand off launched a big kick upfield. Huddersfield failed to deal with it and York raced into the corner for a try, totally against the run of play.
Huddersfield were guilty of not doing the basics, overlaps were not being used and possession given away too easily but they worked their way once again into York’s half. Another penalty was awarded and this time Luke Booth slotted over the kick to put Huddersfield on the scoresheet. From the re-start Huddersfield took play into York’s 22 but yet another turnover allowed them to kick clear. The ball was fielded by Knight who produced an amazing run, beating 3 or 4 defenders and racing to the line. As he crossed the line York’s full back just did enough to knock the ball from Knight’s hands and the try went begging. At half time the score stood at 5-3 to York with everyone wondering how Huddersfield had failed not to score at least one try!
York’s defence remained dogged in the second half but Huddersfield were coping with their attack with the main threats being a lively centre and full back. Huddersfield attacked time after time but continued to ignore clear overlaps or took complicated options instead of doing the basics. Scrum half Ross Baggs made a break from a ruck, the move was taken on by Dan Western and then 2 drives from the forwards. Quick hands was all that was needed to make use of a three-man overlap but Huddersfield tried a miss pass, which went to ground and York hacked the ball up field. York then had two very good attacks but, like Huddersfield, failed to finish clear cut chances with their wingers knocking on each time. With 15 minutes left York went blind from a ruck, their full back stormed into the line and looked set to break through but Baggs made a huge tackle to stop the danger, injuring himself and his opponent in the process.
Minutes later, it was Sykes and Thornton who stopped dead another brave attack. Back in York’s half Huddersfield once again turned the ball over but centre Booth managed to strip his opposite number to regain possession and he off loaded quickly to Harry Whitfield. With Harry Ainsworth outside him in acres of space and the try line beckoning, Whitfield failed to pass and cut back inside. Huddersfield’s supporters thought another chance had been blown but Whitfield broke 2 tackles and handed off a third before charging over the line to score under the posts. Booth made the conversion and with 10 minutes left Huddersfield finally led 10-5. The last 10 minutes showed Huddersfield’s heart as they defended resolutely and when the final whistle went it was pandemonium as Huddersfield’s players and coaches celebrated a marvellous victory. Credit to York for putting up such a fantastic performance but it was a great moment to see skipper Henry Ward lift the 2011 Yorkshire U19 Cup!
All credit to each and every player involved who gave their all to the cause. Credit to Roman Santar who flew back from working in Ireland to provide cover at hooker (and won a crucial scrum against the head near the end), to skipper Henry Ward who despite carrying various injuries played superbly before his body would take no more, and to Bob Sykes who was a rock in defence and attack throughout.
On Sunday 8th May Huddersfield will play the Lancashire U19 cup winners in the ‘Cock of the North’ tournament, which this year is being hosted by HRUFC!
Before that the team will play a curtain raiser prior to the Preston Grasshoppers game on April 30th.