Huddersfield RUFC 30-15 Doncaster Phoenix
Report by Patrick Moore
Huddersfield RUFC made it two wins from two with a stunning 30-15 win against Doncaster Phoenix.
Tries from Austen Thompson, Elliott Hodgson and Nick Sharpe, along with a flawless kicking display from Chris Bell, gave the Field another four points as they start the National North III campaign with intent.
Gareth Lewis was forced to make a change before kick off as Mark Pease had an injury, and Danny Grainger came in to replace the inside centre.
An early Doncaster mistake gave Huddersfield a chance from a lineout, which was won by Nick Rhodes, and the Phoenix soon gave away a penalty. Bell had no problem in putting the ball between the sticks for the first score of the day.
The Field were then forced into excellent defensive display for a small period, which was to continue throughout the afternoon, as they held Doncaster up on the try line in their immediate response to going behind.
After working the ball out of danger, Gareth Lewis’ side were awarded a scrum in a good position and Austen Thompson hit the whitewash for the first try of the game.
Bell made no mistake to add his side a conversion.
Doncaster got their first points on the board when Jamie Lennard scored a penalty, but just moments later Huddersfield were in again for their second try.
A good kick from Bell from the restart bounced perfectly for the Field to regain possession, and after neat passages of play, Elliott Hodgson split the Phoenix defence with a burst of acceleration and went over the line. Bell added the conversion with ease.
The Phoenix were then on top, and when Tom Owen and Thompson were sin binned, the Field were defending with their backs to the wall.
After initial fantastic defending by Huddersfield to turn over possession, Doncaster did break down the door and Lennard’s conversion made it 17-10.
Just a minute later Doncaster were in again. With the Field down to just 13 men, James Wright found space down the right hand side and, when Kristian Sharples just missed out on tackling him, he broke through to give his side a perfect opportunity to draw level. But Lennard dragged his conversion left of the post.
The Field could have taken a 17-15 lead into half time but looked like a team that wanted to go in on a high note, and they did just that when Nick Sharpe got his second try in as many weeks.
Bell again made no mistake to give his side a nine-point advantage.
The second half saw very few chances between either side, but that didn’t reflect the rugby that was displayed by the two sides. The ball was passed around crisply around the pitch and hadn’t it been for well-structured defences, there would have been more tries. As it was, there weren’t to be any tries to follow.
Grainger went close to scoring an early try in the second half for the Field, but play was brought back for an earlier foul and Bell added three more for the Lockwood Park side.
A painful looking cut to the ear meant Bell had to come off midway through the second half, but he returned and put another penalty over to take his tally to 15 for the day and Huddersfield’s to 30 as they became only the fourth team in over two seasons to beat Doncaster.
“It’s a very good start to the season for the boys,” said head coach Lewis. “I thought our defence, again, was the difference between the sides.”
“There was some questionable decisions throughout the game which made it difficult at times.
“We didn’t show our attacking shape as much as we’d like to in the second half. At the stage when we were down to thirteen men we showed the character and belief we’ve got with each other and we were still a hard team to break down. We are delighted to get two wins from two.”
“He (Grainger) was a bit disappointed last week with the selection but he came in today and did really well. He expressed the reasons why he should be playing and he backed them up today, so I’m very happy for him.
“It was a very good game of rugby today, and one of the best I’ve seen us in a long time. I was really pleased with the set pieces.”
“I thought Nick Rhodes, Francis Entressengle, Ben Hoyle and just the forwards in general in how they controlled and gave us that platform was superb.”
“The only thing, and it’s perhaps because of my competitive nature, which is annoying is that we didn’t get that bonus point at the end. If we controlled that driving maul, we would have got a five-point win but I am still pleased overall.”
In light of Doncaster Phoenix’s coach tweet following the game that his side played “all the rugby”, Lewis said:
“Maybe his team did play the rugby but we played the winning rugby, and that’s what counts at the end of the day”.
Lewis’ side now face a trip to the Lake District as they play Kendal, who had a good 26-19 win away at Firwood Waterloo at the weekend, next Saturday (3pm).
15- Lewis Workman
14- Kristian Sharples
13- Elliott Hodgson
12- Danny Grainger
11- Tom Owen
10- Chris Bell
9- Dan Jeffrey
1- Adam Tamanis
2- Francis Entressengle
3- Alex Battye
4- Nick Rhodes
5- Austen Thompson
6- Lewis Bradley
7- Ben Hoyle
8- Nick Sharpe