Huddersfield v Sheffield Preview
On the back of six consecutive league wins in a row, Huddersfield RU will turn their focus on the Yorkshire Cup this weekend as they host Sheffield at Lockwood Park.
Gareth Lewis’ side face the South Yorkshire outfit with the two teams sitting top of their respected leagues, and the club are urging people to get down and support the lads.
Match day prices have been reduced to just £5 for all adults – inclusive of a match day programme – and children under 16 go free. With Huddersfield Town facing Sheffield Wednesday the day after, it’s a double derby weekend treat for sports fans.
As the two teams head in to the match with similar winning form, it’s a cup match which will whet the appetites of both head coaches.
“Last week’s performance was obviously very pleasing,” said Lewis. “I thought the line breaks and support lines lead to some excellent tries. We were pretty clinical for 80 minutes so it was a good team performance.
“This week is a much bigger challenge though. Sheffield have made a very good start and have some outstanding individuals within their squad.”
The Yorkshire Cup began in 1878, the oldest ever rugby knock out cup competition, and Huddersfield were a founding member.
Huddersfield have twice had their name engraved on the trophy, the first triumph coming in 1890. The club which won that then broke away from the Rugby Football Union in 1895 and joined the new Northern Rugby Football Union.
That then became the forerunner of the present Rugby League and the club eventually evolved into the present day Huddersfield Giants.
The second, and first for the new Union club, came in 2011 when they beat Hull 25-18 in a thrilling final at York. Several of the present team played in that match, and Lewis would love to recreate another special day for Huddersfield. He said:
“We intend to approach the Yorkshire Cup fully focused. There are still a few lads in the current group who were part of the winning team from 2011: James Davies, Alex Battye, Ben Morrill, Nick Sharpe, Joel Hinchliffe, Tom Owen and myself were all involved, so we all know what it’s like. It was a great evening for the club”.
The Field have won six out of six in the league but host a team who have yet to lose away from home this season.
In any other season, this would have been a regular league fixture as Sheffield finished a respectable 7th in the National North Three last season.
However, they volunteered to be level transferred to the Midlands because they thought it would be an easier promotion route to the National Two North.
Currently sitting at the top of the National Midlands Three table on 24 points, they’ve lost just once this season meaning the cup match will be a clash of the best at this level in the country.
Sheffield started the season with two away wins as they overcame Bridgnorth 14-6 before beating Broadstreet 23-10.
Their form, however, was undone with an 18-12 home defeat to currently second placed Derby, but they were soon back on track as they impressively beat Lichfield 28-17 away from home.
Sheffield have since found their home form this month as they beat Longton 50-29 before a 56-28 win against Nuneaton last weekend; meaning they head into the cup match with back to back 5-point wins.
Lewis has made some changes to his XV for the cup clash. Tom Kanouros makes his first appearance of the season after impressive displays for the Falcons and New Zealand centre Ben Harris makes his debut for Huddersfield as Tom Owen drops to the bench.
Callum Thompson and Reuben Pollard start as props whilst captain Alex Battye continues to recover from his head injury. Ben Morrill makes his first start at hooker since his return from injury.
There’s also potential of a debut for Yorkshire Under-20 back rower Harvey Keighley-Payne, who signed for the club from Old Rishworthians, as he starts on the bench.
Meanwhile, Lewis Workman and Ben Hoyle are rested whilst Kristian Sharples misses through illness and Mark Pease has a groin tear.
5. A Thompson
3. C Thompson