Pack power seals win after second half come back.
A Richard Piper try with four minutes remaining gave Huddersfield the lead for the first time in the match and set the seal on a 36 point to 33 win in a ten try thriller at a snow covered Dore Moor against Sheffield Tigers.
The home side made the perfect start and cashed in after Huddersfield lock Austen Thompson was sin binned for a high tackle on four minutes. By the time of his return Tigers were two tries and nine points to the good. First to score was hooker Thomas Coates rounding off a fine drive from a five metre line out with Greg Mellor adding the second from a dynamic right wing break. Mark Ireland converted the first of them.
Although Jonny West landed a penalty between the two the visitors were struggling for rhythm and finding it difficult to gain meaningful possession. Tigers on the other hand looked threatening every time they had the ball and dominated the first quarter. Their pacey backs moved the ball about well and put the Field defence to the test. They extended their lead when centre James Broadley crossed after 25 minutes for try three. Ireland converted.
From the re-start Nick Sharpe claimed good ball for Huddersfield which heralded a passage of play that got his side into the game. A try by Adam Malthouse and another by Austen Thompson, both of which West converted, reduced the deficit to two points and as half time approached they were pressing ten metres out and looking to take the lead. However when Tigers winger Henri Packard intercepted a careless pass and sprinted full length for the bonus point try his team’s advantage was restored. Ireland’s touchline conversion brought the first half to a close.
Huddersfield’s second half game plan was clear from the off. To gain possession, keep things tight and make the most of their powerful forwards who had been posing the problems before the interval. The early signs were good and after the home side had been comprehensively out scrummaged twice in quick succession Sharpe crashed over for his first try with West adding the extras.
Once again though Tigers showed they were a constant danger capable of punishing any mistakes or lapses in concentration. A penalty on half way gifted them possession and from the resulting line out the ball was well taken, driven swiftly and shipped wide where Greg Mellor moved in for his second and his team’s fifth try. Ireland’s conversion once again put nine points between the two sides.
Just after the hour Nick Sharpe bagged the attacking bonus for Field. A penalty had pegged the Tigers back inside their 22 and Sharpe touched down following a very powerful drive from the line out. Shortly afterwards Huddersfield’s forward dominance was demonstrated when the pack produced a brisk and amazing driving maul. Play moved forty metres up the middle of the park and the match winning advantage was set.
In a succession of three scrummages the Tiger’s pack were penalised after being driven backwards towards their line with the re-set being Huddersfield’s chosen option. Piper’s touch down behind the final one and West’s conversion rounded off Huddersfield’s fifth straight win.
Richard K. Sykes (Rugby union correspondent Huddersfield Daily Examiner)