Huddersfield Rugby Union Club fought back to beat Wirral 28-16 in a feisty encounter at Lockwood Park.
Field’s win extended their unbeaten run to 20 games at the top of National III North.
Wirral, who are fourth, proved a real test for Huddersfield in the first half, so when Field found themselves 16-6 down at the break it was very unfamiliar territory.
Head coach Gareth Lewis was surprised at how his side performed in that first half.
“I thought we disrespected Wirral in the first half,” he said.
“I thought we warmed up well, but then didn’t take that into the first 40 minutes, we were weak in the contact, we didn’t stick to the game plan and our set-pieces were not firing like they should.”
Jimmy Annetts put the away side 10-0 ahead after eight minutes, kicking a penalty before scoring a converted try after Wirral worked the ball with pace to the righthand side, which allowed Annetts the space to break the line.
There were no further tries in the first half, although Chris Bell kicked two penalties for Field and Annetts kicked two more.
Ben Hoyle was sin-binned, which didn’t help Field’s cause, but after the break the home side really showed their class.
Lewis explained: “A few choice words at half-time, but the lads knew, they didn’t need me to tell them that they hadn’t played to their ability, so it was good to get a response in the first five minutes of the second half.”
Callum Thompson got Huddersfield’s first try of the match two minutes after the restart, after picking the ball up from a ruck two yards from the tryline and powering his way over.
Then, when Bell kicked his third penalty the deficit was cut to two points (14-16).
Adam Malthouse, who got two tries in the previous win against Ilkley, found himself on the scoresheet again.
After Huddersfield penned Wirral back to their own line, the pressure told and Malthouse leapt over a tackle to put Huddersfield ahead for the first time. Bell converted (21-16).
With 15 minutes to go, second row Lewis Bradley was held up on the line, but Wirral were then penalised for continuous fouls which resulted in a Huddersfield penalty try, allowing some breathing space as Bell converted (28-16).
Wirral’s tactics were something Lewis’s side had to deal with, as they tried to disrupt the flow of the game.
“They were pretty streetwise really,” he said.
“They were quite aggressive, they were taking a knee to slow the clock down, the actual ball in play was very limited, and there was so many times they were going down with suspicious injuries.”
Lewis praised his side for the way they dug in.
“They knew they let themselves down in the first 40,” he commented.
“We started to be more physical in the breakdown, the scrummage started to dominate and that provided the platform for the win in the end.”
Huddersfield failed to get the bonus point which would have put them further ahead at the summit.
However, just getting the win was the coach’s priority.
“I think we had a few opportunities, certainly at the end in the last play of the game – we had two or three chances in the second half which would have got us that fourth try.
“So, that’s a bit frustrating, but you can’t take away the credit from the lads who performed well in the second 40 minutes and ground out the win.”