LEAGUE LEADERS LIMITED BY OUTSTANDING HUDDERSFIELD DEFENDING
Fylde made it three wins in a row with a 15-22 victory over Huddersfield at Lockwood Park to go top of the National 2 North league table.
The visitors posed a threat with ball in hand from the off, with burly centre Scott Rawlings and right-winger Henry Hadfield, in particular, proving a handful for Huddersfield.
Fylde opened their account with a try on 9 minutes. Hadfield cut through the defence with a fine run from midfield and the ball went briskly through the hands to Tom Grimes on the left-wing for the score which was converted by fly-half Greg Smith.
With Fylde in full flow, Huddersfield were restricted to defensive duties. Rawlings was held up over the line on 22 minutes but was immediately back in action from the re-start, racing through and offloading in the tackle to Grimes who went in at the corner for his second try. Smith was off target with his conversion attempt.
In the second quarter, Huddersfield finally got themselves onto the front foot. When another Rawlings breakaway was halted by a forward pass ruling. Huddersfield worked the scrummage ball to the right-wing, Arthur Wilkinson rounded the defence only to be tackled short of the line. The ball was recycled infield and hooker Liam Stapley nipped through for a neat try which Will Milner had no difficulty in converting.
With 35 minutes gone an excellent penalty kick by Milner from forty yards out narrowed the gap to two points but Fylde had the final word in the first half. They went straight back into attack and flanker Phil Mills sold the Huddersfield defence a superb dummy to dot down for a try under the posts which Smith duly converted to bring the half to a close.
Half time – Huddersfield 10-19 Fylde.
Fylde were quickly back onto offence in the second period and pressed for half an hour for the bonus point try. Several penalty kicks and an outstanding kick from hand by Smith produced a series of attacking 5 metre lineouts for the visitors. On each occasion, the catch and drive was halted and the ball turned over by superb defensive work by Huddersfield who were then able to clear their lines.
Huddersfield did have their chances. A left-wing break by Cameron Catleugh was pulled back when he was adjudged to have stepped on the touchline and Stapley’s quest for a second score was thwarted when he knocked on when tackled five metres short.
Having failed in pursuit of the elusive fourth try, Smith kicked for goal with a penalty on 70 minutes to take his team’s tally to 22 points. Thereafter Huddersfield finished strongly, pressing for the try that would give them a losing bonus point.
Twice penalty kicks to touch gave them 5 metre lineout scoring opportunities but on each occasion the throw-in wasn’t straight and the chance went begging. Finally, ten minutes into stoppage time, Huddersfield scrum-half Jonny Mason went in for a try in the right-hand corner to give the home side a deserved consolation point.
Huddersfield Head Coach Gaz Lewis said, ‘We didn’t really impose ourselves in the opening 20 minutes however we grew into the game. In the second half, we defended outstandingly well and if we had capitalised on the key moments the score may have been different. I was proud of the team’s effort and we were justly rewarded with the losing bonus point.’
Written by Richard Sykes
Photos by Mark Birch