Huddersfield 9-22 Harrogate
Huddersfield RUFC suffered yet another loss at home to Yorkshire rivals Harrogate to end a winless January. The defeat keeps the Field rooted to the bottom of the National North II division.
Harrogate were soon ahead when Lewis Minikin scored a penalty, but fly-half Chris Bell, back on kicking-duties after last week’s muscle problem, struck back with his own a few minutes later.
After a tight match where Gareth Lewis’ side looked to be on the upper hand, Harrogate came back well as Minikin scored another penalty and timely drop-goal.
Austen Thompson’s sin bin ten minutes before half-time left a gap in the defensive line for Huddersfield and the away side managed to extend their lead with a converted try to go ahead 19-3 at half time.
Another try-less half from Huddersfield meant there was never any chance to get a precious victory, as they could only manage two further penalty goals from Bell. A last minute penalty for Harrogate ensured a home defeat.
“It’s disappointing considering how much possession we had. We were building pressure but we coughed up the ball when we were in the ascendency. That particularly cost us in the first half. I don’t think they threatened in the second half at all” said head coach Lewis.
“We need more composure in the final third. We had an opportunity in the latter stages of the match but it’s just down to decision making and communication. These parts of the game let us down today. We didn’t execute a couple of two on one’s today either, and we need to be taking those opportunities.”
The Field were without suspended captain Nick Sharpe for the fixture, and Lewis gave Alex Battye the role to lead out the side in front of Lockwood Park.
“[Lewis] asked me on Monday to be captain after we had a chat and I’m more than happy to be captain. As a born and bred Huddersfield lad who hasn’t played for anyone else, there’s nothing better than to rule the lads out at the front. But I am disappointed with the result today though” said Battye.
The captain added, “Between about the twentieth minute to the thirty-fifth they outsmarted us really. For me, that’s where the game was lost. They played really good rugby and pinned us in to the corners.
“We dealt with the sin bin well but it’s nice to have 15 players on the pitch at all times to have more of a chance.
“There’s nothing to lose next week. We’re at the bottom and the only way is up.”
Lewis also spoke highly of Battye’s first match as captain.
“Alex was absolutely fantastic today. He has the respect of his team mates and he spoke very well in the dressing room. He made good tactical decisions on the field too and that’s one of the big positives from today; to adapt to the role so well is very pleasing.
“Sharpy is an outstanding player and with him not being in the equation for the foreseeable future there’s opportunities there for the other lads there too. I thought Adam Malthouse did very well at number 8 and as did Adam Tamanis as one of the tight head props. There were good individual performances out there today.”
With the only points coming from Bell, he gave his thoughts after the game:
“We’re all disappointed again with the result. It’s not really ideal because we’re fighting for our lives now. We’re deflated but we ned to turn it in to positives for next week”
“Leicester is always a tough place to go. But we’ve beaten them at home already this season in a brilliant performance, so hopefully we can go over there and make a difference. It’d be good to get a win next to our names because it will give us confidence.”
Huddersfield now face an even trickier test away against Leicester Lions, but a 27-23 win earlier in the season will hopefully boost confidence into the struggling side.
“The position we’re in now means we’ve just got to get out there and play. The pressure, to an extent, isn’t on us really” said Lewis.
“The odds are stacked against us but there’s still 11 games to play. We go down there with nothing to lose and we just have to give it everything we’ve got.”