Report by Patrick Moore

Huddersfield RUFC 28–35 Sale

Huddersfield RUFC remain rooted at the foot of the National North II after a 28-35 home loss to Sale. Tries from Liam Parfitt, Lewis Bradley and Joel Hinchliffe weren’t enough to get the win in a close contest which seen Gareth Lewis’ side surrender a lead with ten minutes to go.

Sale took full advantage from a second minute lineout mistake from the hosts with a converted try, but the Field replied with a Chris Bell penalty. Sale, though, soon restored their lead with a penalty of their own.

With the away side trying to build play, Parfitt made a lovely interception through the middle to cross over for a much needed try, and Bell made no mistake from underneath the posts.

But Sale’s Chris Mayor made a burst of acceleration after a strong handoff to go down in the corner and another conversion was taken brilliantly.

Huddersfield instantly replied as Bradley sailed over after a long spell of scrums and Bell took the conversion to draw level. Lewis’ side gathered momentum and went ahead before half-time when Hinchliffe crossed over, but Bell’s conversion this time was blocked.
That was to be Bell’s last action as he got concussion and was replaced at halftime. After a skilful run from Elliot Hodgson led to another penalty, Hinchliffe took over kicking duties and put Huddersfield eight points ahead early in the second half.

Sale fought back minutes later, though, and hit a converted try. More pressure lead for another penalty to go against Huddersfield and Sale regained the lead. Hinchliffe then missed and scored a penalty to put his side ahead, and when Malthouse went off with an injury it looked like they may just hold on to a vital win when Sale received a sin bin.

But the hosts hit back with a try, and although their conversion this time hit the post, a later penalty sunk the Lockwood Park side.

“I thought it was a good game of rugby today,” said Lewis. “It was open and expansive which suited us to an extent. Our strike runners really came into it on the harder tracks but again the start that we made set the tone. We weren’t sharp enough around the breakdown, we weren’t organised quick enough or numbering off defensively and they exploited that.”

“The line outs were an issue yet again and tactically some of the calls were questionable. In the first ten minutes, you need to build up your hookers’ confidence and throw into the tail in the limelight. It wasn’t the greatest call which lead to their early try and we’re very hit and miss with them; which is not good enough.”

“We conceded soft tries. We played some very good stuff and our line breaks which we made were good. I thought Elliott Hodgson was excellent today along with Tom Hodson and Elliott Fletcher, who looked strong for the majority of today.

“But some of our game management was a concern today when we were attacking. A lot of our options could have been executed to a better level.”

Dan Jeffrey, who came on for Bell at half-time, also gave his thoughts after the match:

“It’s bitterly disappointing. It could have gone either way but it’s about being clinical at the right times. If we’re being honest, we haven’t been good enough. But training has been really good so there’s no reason at all why we can’t get the win next week,

“The team is confident. I genuinely believe we have the quality within the squad to contest in this league but it’s just little details which has let us down,

“Next week is huge and there’s no getting away from it. We’ve got to keep plugging away and hopefully we’ll get the right result.”

Huddersfield now face another vital battle against Luctonians on Easter Saturday at Lockwood Park, where a loss would all but confirm their relegation.

“Luctonians have had a good run of form and have climbed up the league, which is similar to what we achieved last year, so they’ll come here full of confidence,” said Lewis.

“It’s my job to make sure the lads are in the right minds for next week. Despite all the negativity they are still in good spirits and we’ll keep playing right till the very end.”

Starting XV:
15- Tom Hodson,
14- Elliot Fletcher,
13- Tom Owen,
12- Lewis Workman,
11- Elliott Hodgson,
10- Chris Bell,
9- Joel Hinchliffe,
1- Alex Battye (capt),
2- Lewis Bradley,
3- Adam Tamanis,
4- Austen Thompson,
5- Gavin Rhodes,
6- Nick Rhodes,
7- Liam Parfitt,
8- Adam Malthouse.

16- Dan Jeffrey,
17- Laurence Sanderson,
20- Ross Thornton,
21- Dan Jeffrey,
22- Tom Kanauros
30’ Laurence Sanderson for Adam Tamanis
40’ Dan Jeffrey for Chris Bell
62’ Tom Kanauros for Tom Owen
68’ Ross Thornton for Adam Malthouse
72’ Henry Walker for Gavin Rhodes

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