Huddersfield round off their season with a fifteenth win.
South Leicester scored 33 points in two brief spells and twice threatened to take the game. In between them Huddersfield scored six tries and eventually ran out winners 41 points to 33 to retain sixth place in National 2 North.
Huddersfield were twelve points down after five minutes. Winger Matthew Cooke latched on to a cross field kick for the first try and after making an initial break centre Adam Nunney was on hand to finish the move he started for the second. Rickie Aley converted Nunney’s effort.
Over the next fifteen minutes the home side hit back. Huddersfield’s forwards ground them back into the game and two converted tries, both of which came from penalties kicked to the corner, gave them the lead. Lock Nick Sharpe and prop Alex Battye were the men to dot down with scrum half Joel Hinchliffe landing two good kicks from wide out.
Huddersfield began breaking the South defensive line and making ground, with flankers Ben Morrill and Lewis Bradley proving a particular handful for would be tacklers. Centre Mark Pease scored a third try, cutting neatly inside for the touch down to round off a nice three quarter line move.
Approaching half time Morrill should have wrapped up the bonus point. Having made a clean twenty metre break he lost control of the ball when hit by a last ditch tackle in goal whilst performing a flamboyant dive over.
Twenty minutes into the second half Huddersfield had extended their lead to twenty six points with three more tries. Fly half Will Milner got the first, crossing between the posts after a nifty break, with Bradley going over in the exact same spot five minutes later after a passing exchange with Number 8 Adam Malthouse. A good back line move delivered Field’s final try, winger Danny Grainger running it in near the corner flag. Hinchliffe took an easy four points by converting the first two.
At this point the game looked to be in the bag but in the next ten minutes South countered with three more tries, assisted by some complacent defending. The first two followed decisive breaks by replacement Tom Harrison, winger Myles Bean and flanker Patrick Marks cashing in on his good work. With Field under pressure on their own line scrum half Adam Shaw got the last one and Aley converted all three with nicely struck kicks.
With the game back in the balance the teams produced their most competitive rugby in the final stages. Huddersfield responded with some more determined play and pressed hard inside the South 22. However the visitors showed resolution in defence that wasn’t evident earlier in the half and despite repeated charges close to the whitewash Huddersfield were kept at bay.
With the possibility of a breakaway match winner for South hanging in the air Huddersfield were awarded a penalty thirty metres out following a deliberate knock on. Hinchliffe called for the tee and promptly landed the kick put his team two scores clear and that’s how things ended.
There were three yellow cards in the game. Huddersfield’s George Martin and Thomas Cheney for South were sent to the bin for technical infringements and South’s Chris Bale ended the game there after some foul play which resulted in Huddersfield centre Tom Owen having to leave the field injured.
Richard Sykes, Rugby Union Correspondent, Huddersfield Daily Examiner.