By L Hammond
Huddersfield overcame tricky conditions to run in four tries and earn a bonus point victory against plucky Stockport.
With a combination of effective kicking and strong forward play ‘Field secured a 27-21 victory.
Scrum-Half Joel Hinchcliffe, Captain Nick Sharpe and Winger Michael Clarke all touched down in the first half with Giles Hetherington capping an impressive individual performance with a try at the beginning of the second half.
Although Huddersfield never fell behind on the score board. Stockport did manage to ensure that the match was a contest until the final whistle with two tries from Prop Elliot Miller-Mill and a last gasp effort from replacement Prop Craig Anthony ensuring that the visitors remained within one score of victory.
In gloomy conditions Huddersfield started the match the brightest and following several impressive drives through the middle of the Stockport defence, were rewarded with an early penalty when Stockport were penalised for going off their feet at the ruck. Tom Hodson converted the penalty to give Huddersfield the early lead.
Huddersfield quickly earned another penalty, this time at the scrum, which would prove to be an area of dominance all afternoon. Huddersfield used to the penalty to place themselves in the Stockport twenty two.From the resulting line-out Huddersfield completed several well executed drives, leaving Scrum Half Joel Hinchcliffe to pick up a loose ball and run over the try line unopposed.
Hinchcliffe would also have a hand in Huddersfield’s next score. It was the Scrum-Half’s reverse pass to Captain Nick Sharpe which saw the Number 8 canter over the try line after several minutes of concerted Huddersfield pressure on the Stockport try line.
With Huddersfield leading by 17 points, Stockport wrestled the initiative away from the home side with two quick-fire scores for the imposing prop Elliot Miller-Mill. Both scores came from Line-Out drives, with the young Prop falling over the line on both occasions as Stockport effectively quelled Huddersfield’s counter drive attempts.
With both sides now only separated by a single point Huddersfield landed a killer blow just before half time. Huddersfield surged through the Stockport midfield with Centre Tom Owen finding space to run before being brought down in the Stockport twenty two. ‘Field Fly-Half Giles Hetherington fired a 15 metre miss pass, capitalising on over-lap which allowed Winger Michael Clarke to run in Huddersfield’s third try of the half.
The beginning of the second half saw Huddersfield begin in the same fashion as they began the first. With ‘Field in the Stockport twenty two, Fly Half Giles Hetherington attacked the defensive line, throwing an audacious dummy and then skipping through the Stockport defence to cross for the line for a try.
Playing conditions began to deteriorate even further with high winds and rain shackling both sides’ attempts to attack with the ball.
Stockport did manage to put several phases of play together and with Huddersfield penalised at the breakdown, Fly-Half Mark Edwards kicked his side into the Huddersfield twenty two. Stockport gathered the ball from the resulting lineout and drove themselves over the Huddersfield line, Prop Craig Anthony with the score.
Huddersfield had one last opportunity to deny Stockport a losing bonus point but with the winds gusting, Full-Back Tom Hodson missed the penalty kick as the referee blew the final whistle.
After the match, Coach Ian Shuttleworth revealed he was delighted with how his side managed the game: “It’s hard to play in conditions like today and we told the lads to play smart and play for territory and that’s what we did today. We played in the right areas and when we got our chances we took them.”
Huddersfield next face an away trip to Merseysiders Firwood & Waterloo as they seek to close the gap on league leaders Rossendale.