By Brandon Reeves
Hinckley’s 11-month unbeaten run at home came to an abrupt halt after the visit of the men from Lockwood Park when Huddersfield came away with an impressive 27-24 win to keep pace in the title race.
Otley were the last side to come away with a victory from Leicester Road last March before Hinckley made their place a fortress for nearly a year.
This time it’s another Yorkshire side to do damage to the Midlanders.
Lewis Workman was at the double with what Gareth Lewis labelled “superb finishes” in the second half. Harry Whitfield notched earlier in the tie who has three scores in four himself.
These were polished off by Chris Johnson’s kicking return of three conversions, a penalty and a drop-goal that proved to be pivotal as Hinckley rallied late on.
The pattern of the game sometimes reflected the surface on which it was played, the side-to-side slope and cut up pitch made some of the mistakes either side made in this scrap look a bit better.
It was the visitors who took initiative on their first foray into enemy territory. A kick to the corner resulted in Field’s lineout maul forcing their way over with Harry Whitfield the man with the ball in hand over the line. Johnson with the extras.
Hinckley, as expected, came back to test the resolve of the away side’s resolve and got their first try from a lineout.
Using the maul well, they then went inside then outside with a nice reverse pass before winger Callum Dacey got his first in a brace for the afternoon. Joe Wilson couldn’t add points to that.
Barring a penalty kick from between the sticks by Chris Johnson, the rest of the half was a real battle for territory and a close-knit contest.
No way through for either team and Field led at the interval by five points.
Where the first half was fought out in no-man’s-land, the opening exchanges of the second was more like the Alamo.
All guns blazing from Hinckley as the sun was setting on an unseasonably mild February day.
Huddersfield have proven to be battle-hardened to this sort of barrage on their line this season and kept the hosts at bay before extending their lead and then some.
Hinckley’s lineout was won by Field in their own half before Johnson and then Will Milner found Lewis workman. Playing at outside centre this week, Workman threw a dummy and beat two men on a run into the corner. Johnson’s kick was good again and Huddersfield looked to have settled.
Johnson soon after tried a drop goal that just missed, but the possession from Hinckley’s 22m drop was used to damaging effect.
The fly half again involved, with a well-timed break before finding Tom Hodson on the run.
Field’s runners sensed a score was there and Workman was sent in by Hodson for his second try of the day, his seventh in seven games. Johnson made no mistake and his side looked comfortable.
There could have been another try out there too after more great defending of their line and a timely strip by Fran Entressengle before Johnson kicked to safety.
Hinckley’s lineout was a bit too quick for their own good and Workman latched on but couldn’t make it count.
On this pitch Hinckley, who are a tough proposition for most, weren’t going to go quietly at all and indeed came back.
Alex Salt got one back for the hosts after a double-movement with the ball at the line was judged as a try by the referee. Despite some bemusement from some ‘Field faces the kick went through the posts and it was game on.
Five minutes later and they were in for another one from close-range, Alex Bresland driving it over, making it a nervy time for the visitors after Wilson’s kick was good.
With Hinckley within five points of a comeback, Chris Johnson deftly dropped a kick between the posts to give his side a meaningful 8-point lead as time wound down.
Huddersfield saw out the majority of that time before Hinckley were back, this time against fourteen men after Johnson was yellowed for a high tackle.
There wasn’t the same punishment in the first half though for a Hinckley man for a high tackle.
Though time was up Hinckley got themselves a losing bonus point when Callum Dacey ran it in from the wing. Not that they usually congratulate each other after conceding a try, but the fourteen men out there knew the job was done. And well done at that.
Gareth Lewis, who assuredly has a horse in this title race heaped praise on his men.
“The players deserve huge credit to come away with the victory given Hinckley’s home record.
“We had to defend for long periods of the game as we were a bit inaccurate with the ball and struggled for some decent field position.
“I think we probably left two or three tries out there. The win is the important thing and now we’ll focus on what will be a very tough local derby against Wharfedale next week.”
Lewis also had some words for Lewis workman, who has been in fine form.
“Lewis has played in a number of positions across the back line this season and showed his quality yet again today. Both his tries were superb finishes.”
The Title Race
Hinckley 24 – 27 Huddersfield
Hull Ionians 34 – 22 Fylde
Stourbridge 26 – 26 Chester
Tynedale 25 – 22 Otley