By L Hammond
Huddersfield U17s v Ripon at Lockwood Park Huddersfield
This is no tougher start to the season than playing last years Yorkshire Cup winners, Huddersfield had six new players in their squad including one recruit playing his first competitive game of rugby.
The game started with the two sets of forwards testing their opponents tackling ability and Louis Frear, Jack Hartop, Edward Smith and Thomas Knapton were prominent defenders for the home side. Ripon showed some slick passing, releasing their quickest player down the right wing and as he sprinted clear of the home defence, it took a copybook tackle from Huddersfield full back Andy Cuthill to force the winger into touch. On 15 minutes when the home side were penalised and the visitors kicked a penalty goal for 3 points.
Eighteen minutes into the game Huddersfield scrum half Ian Nuttall fed the ball out from a ruck and Elliot Whetham neatly passed to Elliott Spiers who ran strongly drawing in the visitors defence before passing to the supporting Will Burgess. He was stopped inches from the try line, but Lewis Bradley was first to the developing ruck and forced his way over the try line. Liam Moran was just wide with the conversion; the home team were in the lead 5 points to 3.
On twenty five minutes Huddersfield were again penalised and Ripon kicked a second penalty goal to lead 6 points to 5. The visitors big number 8 broke through the Huddersfield defence and was running strongly but Lewis Bradley, spotting the danger, sped across to cover making one of the best tackles of the game.
After thirty minutes the Ripon right-winger showed real pace in scoring a long distance try, not converted. With the half time approaching Ripon scored a second try, converted to give them a 16 points to 5 lead at the interval.
The first ten minutes of the second half saw no immediate threat from either side, but with the visitors on the back foot, they kicked to relieve the pressure and were somewhat fortunate to touch down when the bounce of the ball beat the Huddersfield defender, the try was converted.
Ripon started to look for openings from their speedy wingmen and it took a brave dive over a loose ball by home winger Mathew Tate to halt a Ripon attack. Minutes later Huddersfield lost the services of Lewis Bradley when following a strong tackle he took a heavy blow to his shin and had to leave the field, his performance to that point had been outstanding. The home side were very unlucky when they reached the Ripon line and the ball was knocked into touch by a defender when Huddersfield winger Mathew Tate was inches short of touching down.
Ripon showed their pace out wide after twenty five minutes when they beat the Huddersfield cover for a converted try. The home side strove to get back into the game and were unfortunate when a fine drive by their forwards took them to within inches of the Ripon line, but the defence held. After twenty-six minutes with Huddersfield on the attack, Luke Pickard was very unlucky to be held yards from the Ripon line. The visitors put the game beyond doubt with a further converted try taking the final score to 37 points to 5. The score was not a fair reflection as the game as a whole was a much closer contest than the score suggests. With six new players in the squad Huddersfield can take some optimism that their teamwork will develop as the season progresses.
Huddersfield U17s 5points (1 try) Ripon 37 points (5 tries 6 goals)