Huddersfield 6 – 47 Preston Grasshoppers
Match report by D Whittle
A hat-trick from Preston’s Matt Hughes, was enough to condemn Huddersfield to defeat at Lockwood Park.
The visitors ran in seven tries, as they moved level on points with Darlington Mowden Park, whilst Huddersfield moved back to bottom of the table, after Stockport’s surprise victory against Caldy last weekend.
It was the men in green that got off the best possible start, with two quick tries. The first came after winning the lineout on their right-hand side, before a kick to the corner gave Hoppers the initiative, as Mark Allen played in Hughes to open their account for the afternoon.
The second soon followed as Hoppers played the ball to their left, finding Lewis Allen, who’s grubber kick slipped through the Field defence to find Jack Ward. Preston’s full-back Sean Taylor, was able to convert on both occasions, to give Preston a 0-14 lead inside 10 minutes.
Huddersfield soon settled and created chances of their own. A kick to the corner saw Field ruck over on the Hoppers goal-line, but were unable to make anything of the chance.
But Huddersfield didn’t have to wait long to get their first points on the board. As Field tried to force their way back into the game, the Hoppers were found guilty of ill-discipline and were made to pay. It was left to Luke Booth’s boot to kick Huddersfield into the game, as he did so, not once, but twice, as Field narrowed the deficit.
The boot of Booth had given Huddersfield the spark they needed, as they continued to ask questions of the travelling defence. In between penalties, a grubber kick from Joel Hinchcliffe almost found a way through as Field settled for three.
Field then almost got a lucky break, as Hinchcliffe kicked from the scrum, a fortunate bounce favoured the visitors despite an on rushing defence.
But it was Preston who were able to score again. In a free-flowing move, they were able to break from the scrum within their own half, as Taylor forced the issue downfield. He was able slip through a couple of tackles as the ball found Craig Aikman, who to eased into the space created by Taylor. The score now 6-21 after 32 minutes.
Hoppers went close to adding to their lead, but what looked like a series of quick hands, had actually resulted in a forward pass. Instead of seeing the scoreboard increase, Preston’s no.4 Gareth Gore, was shown a yellow card for an off-the-ball incident.
But despite being down to 14 men, Preston started the second half as they started the first. From a lineout on the left-hand side, Hoppers zipped the ball right, as Hughes was able to go over for his second try of the game. This was soon followed up from the kick-off. Receiving the ball in his own half, Andy Napier was able to force his team back to the Huddersfield goal-line. As Field were unable to stop the Preston momentum, the ball was slipped to the left where a series of passes give Adam Birchall an easy score in the corner. But Sean Taylor brilliantly converted 20 metres out from both the left and right touchlines, to give Hoppers a 29-point lead. Owen Farrell would have pleased with those conversions.
As the early tries had given Preston advantage in both halves, in a carbon-copy, it gave Huddersfield the drive to get back into the game. The courage to play on in the manner that they did, is one you wouldn’t get from most bottom of the league sides. The men in white, claret and gold continued to play the ball and make sure Preston didn’t have it all their own way. For a solid period of 10 minutes in the second half, Huddersfield relentlessly pressed the Hoppers into retreat.
But it wasn’t to be Huddersfield’s day as Preston intercepted the ball and Field were left exposed. Three passes later, Ward went over for his second try of the afternoon, but Taylor surprisingly missed the conversion.
Instead, the day belonged to Hughes, who rounded off the afternoon by scoring his third and Preston’s seventh try of the afternoon, with Taylor making no mistake from the conversion this time.
Huddersfield face Darlington Mowden Park next week in a re-arranged fixture, where they need to pick up points if they’re to avoid the drop. Huddersfield’s next home game is against Birmingham & Solihull in three week’s time.