By Brandon Reeves
Huddersfield’s penultimate match of the season at Wharfedale proved to be a typical Yorkshire Derby clash with the Lockwood men running out narrow 17-12 winners in North Yorkshire.
Any other opponent and it would seemingly have been a dead rubber, but Dale proved to be a gritty side as we’ve come to expect and Huddersfield managed to exorcise the demons of the past two February’s in a steely and determined fashion.
Naturally there was no quarter given up to either team but Elliot Knight nearly breached Dale first down the left but it was a stern resistance in the first five minutes.
‘Field adapted well to the conditions in Threshfield as a cold blow affected kicking, so they did their utmost to use possession patiently.
That brought its just rewards when Knight in similar fashion to his near miss earlier this time had an easy finish after being sent into the left-hand corner.
Dale were yet to be a creative force because Huddersfield did a good job without the ball, but with it they pressed home their lead with another try through Jack Maplesden.
Through the phases and at the line, ‘Field’s pressure took them tantalisingly close before the scrum half’s drop of the shoulder with a canny little pick-and-go from 5m put another score on the board. Chris Johnson kicked his sole successful conversion of the day.
With a healthy lead, Field’s task was seemingly made easier when Wharfedale lock George Hedgley was sent to the bin.
However, it was when they would have possession against fourteen men that they faltered slightly in giving away an interception try to Dale’s Harry Bullough. The outside centre pounced after telegraphing a casual pass on 10m inside Field’s half before making up the open road ahead. Jack Blakeney-Edwards had himself an easy conversion.
But Field kept on doing what they were doing, despite the setback, and on the stroke of the half, Will Milner ran in Field’s third try.
This time out to the right side it was more of the same from a possession standpoint. Driving and driving, eking out metres when possible before a clever pass over a Dale head gave Milner an easy task in crossing the whitewash.
Johnson missed his kick again but that spelled half time with a ten-point advantage.
For all the effort that got them into a winning position it was the second-half display that secured the four points. Just the single score in the shape of an unconverted Harry Bullough break meant that Field would walk away victorious.
It was impressive as a defensive team display as Wharfedale came out with their backs up, they were attacking downhill and driving to the river.
Maybe Field teams before it would have been blown away or would’ve succumbed, but not this outfit.
Not last-ditch stuff for the entirety, just controlled and competitive rugby, keeping the line tight, defending the set-piece when called upon, even spending ten minutes shorthanded after Lewis Bradley was the fall guy for what was a team yellow after a series of scrum penalties at their own line.
For that reason, the second half was frustrating for the hosts whose race was run after fumbling at 5m, cueing deserved ‘Field celebration.
Gareth Lewis said his side coming away from The Avenue with a victory was no mean feat given the circumstances his side had in the build-up to kick-off.
“This was a dogged, hard fought win. The odds were stacked heavily against us with unavailable players, losing Guy Borrowdale in the warm up and facing a hostile crowd.
“However, the quality and a togetherness shone through once again and I’m unbelievably proud of how the lads performed.”
Elsewhere, Hull Ionians clinched the title in front of their own fans scoring seven tries against Leicester Lions. Chester’s whitewash victory over Otley confirms their place in the National League Playoff, they’ll travel to Canterbury for a place in National 1.