By Brandon Reeves
An out of form South Leicester outfought and outplayed an out of sorts Huddersfield at Welford Road, to upstage their visitors in a rare bonus point 35-29 win.
Gareth Lewis’ team came within a converted try of winning the match which flatters them a bit, but positives to take away are two bonus points and the fact that second-placed Chester fell to a first home defeat in almost a year.
So, not too much ground lost in the table, but moving forward there will be lessons learned from this in the run up to Christmas.
Lewis said “Full credit to South Leicester today. Complacency set in and we got what we deserved.
“It goes to show every team in the league is strong and cannot be taken lightly. It’s a harsh lesson to learn and as a young team but we will learn valuable lessons.”
South set their stall out early doors getting their first score after three minutes.
Wing Matthew Cooke took advantage after a quick touch and go penalty started by flyhalf Ben Palmer, who would go on to have an influential game.
Field were on the hop as Leicester surged into the 22 and played it across to Cooke who forced his way over in the corner on the right.
The hosts just missed out on increasing their lead after a surge down the left with the powerful Michael Ogunwole making ground, and with a potential three on one, Field’s Tom Hodson made a key tackle in stopping that move.
While Hodson saved his side in one half, he played his part in a brilliant Kian Stewart try minutes later.
A lineout on halfway was well won by Huddersfield, and they were away. Moving through phases, Hodson found himself on the left and with quick feet and hands set Stewart away to charge round the back and under the post for the score, setting up an easy Chris Johnson conversion.
South were behind but kept probing Field, and minutes before the break got a deserved score. After pushing Field back to their line, South were given an advantage and a free ball to work with.
Ogunwole was out on the left flank in an acre of space before being found to get the score in the corner.
Palmer missed his kick again but three minutes later made his mark for another South score.
The flyhalf tried a little dink in behind that Elliot Knight just failed to catch, and the bounce came fortunately back to Palmer who raced off into the open space to score.
Despite being poor, Huddersfield came back with a reply just on the stroke of half time. Field’s maul from the lineout got to the 22 and Joe Green picked up and wriggled through the line before getting a score back. Johnson kicked again to bring the score to within one-point at the break.
The guests came out spurred on from the first kick of the second half.
Within two minutes Field took the lead after more good play between Hodson and Stewart. Getting it just inside on the left on ten metres, a delicate grubber was pounced on by a grateful Stewart before going on to touch down.
Despite missing his mark from the conversion, Chris Johnson had a penalty kick inside South 22 to keep the core ticking as Field looked to take control and took a seven-point lead.
But South had no plans on letting that happen, and with their powerful attack pinned Field back again.
Pushing their way through the phases right under the sticks, back row Rob Turner squeezed through, and Ben Palmer opened his kicking account for the afternoon to draw the sides level.
Ten minutes later, after even more dominance, South found their way through again. Skipper Javiah Pohe from midfield, built like a back-row forward was on the end of the push forward to bustle over the line.
Now it seemed like wave after wave from South, and Ben Palmer in the last ten minutes put a further six points on the board, meaning in the last five or so minutes Field would need two scores to win.
No choice but to go for broke now, Field made their way forward.
It was one of the rare occasions Field had men over to use and they did, finding Kian Stewart on the left to run in and secure a hattrick. Johnson kicked from a tight angle, Field now had two minutes to do the unthinkable in context of what has come before.
But South held strong and on the right forced Knight out into touch when Field were looking to build an attack.
Too little too late in the end but a massive chance next week against Chester to set things straight.
Lewis added after “The lads have been fantastic up to this point and will be hurting from this performance.
“Despite a poor performance we can take away two points and an exceptional individual performance from Tom Hodson.”