By L Hammond
Huddersfield secured their third victory in a row and maintained second place heading into next week’s top of the table clash with Rossendale.
The match finished Huddersfield 18 – Percy Park 11 in a game which was marred by errors and saw three players sent to the sin bin along with Huddersfield captain Nick Sharpe being sent off.
The vital period in the game, came on the hour mark as Percy Park had two men sin binned in quick succession both for deliberately killing the ball during threatening Huddersfield attacks.
It is during this period that Huddersfield pulled away. Scoring two tries through Hooker Ben Morrell and Fly Half Tom Hodson to fully capitalise on Percy Park’s ill-discipline.
The match began brightly for both sides with Percy Park placing early pressure on the Huddersfield line following a barrelling run from No.13 Ali Blair, who evaded several Huddersfield tacklers to put Percy Park in the Huddersfield twenty-two.
Park’s barrage on the Huddersfield line ended in a penalty advantage as Park winger Liam Blackburn was tripped, mid-sprint by Huddersfield scrum half Joel Hichcliffe. The penalty was converted by Park full back Toby Davidson as they established a foothold on the scoreboard.
More Park pressure, this time on the Huddersfield scrum saw Park awarded a penalty for Huddersfield not driving straight. Park full back Davidson converted to hand the Tyne club a six point lead.
Things went from bad to worse for Huddersfield who were then reduced to fourteen men as captain Nick Sharpe was sin binned for killing the ball at the ruck. Sharpe’s sin-binning seemed to invigorate a previously beleaguered looking Huddersfield side as they responded with two quick penalty’s to leave the sides even at 6-6 going into half time.
The second half began in almost same fashion as the first, with Huddersfield defending on their line. Centre Thomas Van Rooyan who had come on as a replacement in first half to make his debut for the 1st XV, made a number of big hits in an attempt to repel Park from the Huddersfield try line.
Park’s pressure told as they scored a try through prop Michael Birkett. The prop found himself on the back of a rumbling lineout drive which coasted towards the try line, allowing him to flop over for the score.
With Park now five points to the good and looking to put more pressure on Huddersfield, the match swung heavily in Huddersfield’s favour. Both Park captain Michael Langlands and his second row replacement Stu Findlay we’re sin-binned within two minutes of each other, both for deliberately knocking on during Huddersfield attacks.
Huddersfield took full advantage of the extra men on the field scoring two tries in quick succession. Hooker Ben Morrell burrowed over from close range to level the scores.
After more concerted Huddersfield pressure, Fly Half Tom Hodson took it upon himself to run against the grain and hit Park on their weakened blindside defence, walking over from five metres out. With Hodson converting his own try Huddersfield now lead by seven points (18-11) going into the final minutes of the game.
Huddersfield captain Nick Sharpe was then handed his second yellow card and subsequently sent off for killing the ball in the Huddersfield twenty two. The final whistle blew with Huddersfield defending their line and securing a hard fought victory.
First Team Manager Lee Paxman was happy to see the points go to Huddersfield but was not happy with their level of performance “I think we deserved the win but it was not a full performance. We played well in parts of the game but could have the made the win easier by putting a full performance. Never the less we go into the match against Rossendale in good form and ready to go.”
With Huddersfield securing the points on the day, Centre Thomas van Rooyan admits the step-up to the first XV was not easy: “It was intense, I’m absolutely shattered but I was happy to put my body on the line, the team defended well and we got the points today”.