Report by Patrick Moore
Sandal 13-12 Huddersfield
Huddersfield RUFC remain bottom of the National North II table after a cruel loss away to Sandal. Two tries from Alex Battye wasn’t enough to give the Field a much needed win as the home side scored a converted try late on to steal the points from Gareth Lewis’ side.
Gregory Wood put Sandal ahead with a penalty midway through the first half after a tight opening to the game. But loose-head prop Battye fought back and sailed over the line after good pressure to put Huddersfield ahead just before half time.
With Chris Bell struggling with an injury to his glute muscle in his leg, scrum half Joel Hinchliffe took his place as kicker and converted well with his first attempt.
Battye soon got his second try of the match to put Huddersfield 12-3 up, but Hinchliffe missed his conversion. Although Sandal controlled much of the second half, Huddersfield matched them well and defended superbly as they looked to be holding out for a win.
“We’re all absolutely gutted with the result from today. Last week’s match being postponed meant we were fresh today and it probably benefited us,
We played well, particularly in the first half. I thought we retained the ball well and applied pressure to them excellently. Our defence was probably the best it’s been all season. Our discipline was good, we scored just before half time after a really good first half performance,
But we didn’t apply pressure in the second half as well and didn’t kick the ball in to the corners. They managed the game very well so credit to them. But I’m very disappointed we couldn’t hold on for the win.”
A penalty from Wood put Sandal within a converted try to steal the win, and they did just that with 10 minutes remaining.
Tom Owen’s injury and captain Nick Sharpe’s sin bin for foul play looked to give them the advantage, and Wood scored a try and agonisingly converted from a tight angle to take the win after a gutsy performance from Huddersfield.
Sharpe was later sent off at the final whistle for abusive language towards the match officials and will have to wait and see what disciplinary action will be taken.
“There was a ten-minute period where we dropped off our intensity and they punished us with scores; it’s cost us” commented Lewis.
“The line outs were still an issue. They made a couple of good banker calls and ours was hit and miss again. We’ve practised on it and we’ll continue to practise on it for the Harrogate match next weekend.”
Tom Hodson, along with Austen Thompson, started against his former club and gave his thoughts on the game:
“It was a bit of a scrappy match in all honesty. We had a really good first half where we went in with a lead, but they just played better in the second. They kept hold of the ball well and we just couldn’t get a hold of it,
We’re working really hard at the line outs. It’s an ongoing workout and hopefully we’ll get there eventually. The more work we put in training, the more it will help in the game,
Sandals lineouts were well. They pressured it and managed to read where our jumpers were going,
Defensively we have to take massive positives. Even throughout the second half when they had much of the possession we kept them out and it was only in the corner they scored. If they can only score out wide, then we’re definitely doing something right in the middle.
We need to take responsibility for the loss and keep together as a team.”
Huddersfield now face a massive task to stay in the division, and need the win against Harrogate at Lockwood Park this Saturday.
Lewis said, “If we perform like we did today then we have every chance of winning the game. We’ll keep battling to the end. We can turn this around.”
15- Tom Hodson
14- Elliot Fletcher
13- Elliot Hodgson
12- Tom Owen
11- Tom Kanauros
10- Chris Bell
9- Joel Hinchliffe
1- Alex Battye
2- Henry Walker
3- James Tideswell
4- Adam Malthouse
5- Austen Thompson
6- Nick Rhodes
7- Ben Hoyle
8- Nick Sharpe
16- Adam Tamanis
17- Gavin Rhodes
18- Ross Thornton
20- Lewis Workman
21- Dan Jeffrey
58’ Gavin Rhodes for Nick Rhodes
58’ Ross Thornton for Henry Walker
61’ Dan Jeffrey for Joel Hinchliffe
69’ Adam Tamanis for James Tideswell
71’ Lewis Workman for Tom Owen