Huddersfield RUFC remain bottom of the National North II league following a narrow 25-19 loss to third placed Stourbridge. The Field were 16-7 up at half time after a brilliant first half performance, but failed to hold on to get the much needed points.
Head coach Gareth Lewis named himself on the bench after a series of injuries, suspensions and illnesses hit the Huddersfield team.
Chris Bell, who played as inside-centre due to Tom Owen’s illness, hit an early penalty before setting up Nick Rhodes with a kick through the heart of the defence; who made no mistake to score the first try of the match.
More pressure from a strong Huddersfield forced another penalty, Bell unforuntate this time. Minutes later Stourbridge went under the posts and converted easily, but Bell more than made up for his missed penalty by scoring another two before half time.
An early penalty and converted try from Stourbridge in the second half gave the favourites a 17-16 lead, but Huddersfield never looked out of the game and Bell converted yet another penalty to put his side in front again.
Another penalty was given to Stourbridge with ten minutes left and they made no mistake in regaining the lead. Then with the last play the home side scored a try to give the Field no chance.
“The boys are obviously gutted. We dominated large parts of the game once again. To hear the opposition, say ‘Why are you bottom of the league?’ again makes it even more frustrating that we’re losing. There’s little consolation really” said Lewis.
“The first half was a high tempo game. They played with a lot of width but I thought we defended heroically. We had great line speed and aggression.
“Nick Rhodes took his try brilliantly after a superb little chip over the line. They came out with a tighter game plan in the second half, but I still thought our scrum, driving maul and lineouts were the best it’s been in a long time. We really asked questions of Stourbridge today.
“Our width, skill level and tempo were the best it’s been all season and we will upset teams above if we play like this each week; I have no doubt about that.
“It’s another tough one to take but I’m incredibly proud of the lads and this is another step forward.”
Joel Hinchliffe, who performed very well as fly-half, also spoke of his disappointment of the result, but that there is a lot of positives to take out too:
“It’s difficult to take really. We got the scoreboard ticking on early on which was our intention. Going into the dressing room was a good feeling but we knew there was still another 40 minutes to go.
“They came out fighting in the second half and that’s ultimately how they won. We couldn’t get on to the ball as much as we could and couldn’t get into areas we wanted to for that reason., they have a lot of experience in their team and that showed playing towards the end.
When you are losing like this it’s very difficult; we feel like we’ve been in this position before. There’s still belief in there too. If we’re getting beat by 20-30 points every week, it’d be a lot easier to take.
“The first half performance was one of the best we’ve played all season. I think we all enjoyed playing in it. One thing you can’t argue is the heart and desire from the lads. If we can stick together that’s what will get us through it.
“There’s still a lot of games to be played and we’re picking up points on the road and that’s all you can ask for away from home. “If we win next week we’re back on track.”
Huddersfield now face an incredibly tough task to stay in the league, but with the performances produced it’s still very much in their own hands. They face another tough task against second placed Sedgley Park this Saturday, but Lewis remains optimistic for the home match.
“Each week the confidence is growing in the lads” said Lewis. “Sedgley Park are obviously pushing hard for promotion but they won’t relish coming to Lockwood Park.”
Huddersfield starting XV:
15- Tom Hodson
14- Elliott Fletcher
13- Tom Kanauros
12- Chris Bell
11- Lewis Workman
10- Joel Hinchliffe
9- Dan Jeffrey
1- Alex Battye
2- Lewis Bradley
3- Adam Tamanis
4- Nick Rhodes
5- Gavin Rhodes
6- Liam Parfitt
7- Ben Hoyle
8- Adam Malthouse
16- Henry Walker
17- Tom Baxter
18- Gareth Lewis
19- Michael Clarke
20- Daniel Grainger
Baxter for Tamanis
Tamanis for Baxter