FIELD VACATE THE DRIVING SEAT
Seventeen minutes into their National 2 North game against Chester at Lockwood Park, Huddersfield were 17 points to the good. However, the visitors turned the tables and returned home with a 23-17 win under their belt. It was their first of the season.
For Field it was a third successive defeat. After the game, Director of Rugby, Gaz Lewis said, ‘The opening 25 minutes showed what we are capable of. Our set piece provided the platform, we dominated possession and attacked with pace. However, that was as good as it got. A combination of poor kicking, basic defensive mistakes and ill-discipline allowed Chester to grow into the game and ultimately win it. Our second half was simply not good enough.’
After a scintillating opening spell by Field the 25th minute proved to be pivotal. Having gifted Chester possession, with an injudicious clearance kick, the visitors started to click. After a nice passage of play, centre John Craven cruised in for an unconverted corner flag try. Five minutes later fly half, James Hampson, doubled Chester’s score with a second try and when full back, Gethin Long, added the extras it was game on.
It had all started so well for Field, who were on the scoreboard after just 4 minutes, when Kian Stewart cut through for the first try of the game. The nippy wingman had come close to opening his account in the opening minute, having made an excellent solo break, but his chip over the defence was grounded in goal, by Long, before he could reach it. Skipper, Lewis Bradley made the decisive break that put Stewart in for his try and Will Milner landed the conversion.
Five minutes later hooker Liam Stapley crashed over for a second try for Field. Chester were being pressured into a series of penalty concessions. A strong scrummage by Field, on the Chester 10 metre line, drew an infringement and the kick to touch pegged the visitors back, deep inside their 22. The lineout take was good and Stapley grounded the ball after the drive. Once again Milner landed the conversion.
Field were playing their best rugby of the season and had Chester firmly on the back foot. Another good scrummage, another good touch kick and a drive infield resulted in Chester giving away another penalty in front of their posts. Milner made no mistake with his kick from 25 metres out.
At the end of an entertaining first half Field had a chance to extend their slender lead. They strung together some promising phases and Chester were penalised at the breakdown. However, Milner miscued his kick at goal and the score remained 17 -2, to Field, at the interval.
Milner’s miss seemed to put wind into Chester’s second half sails. Having started strongly they drew level on 49 minutes, when Long crossed for an unconverted try in the corner.
With Field struggling to gain and retain possession, Chester could easily have put the game out of reach. As it was, carelessness by the visitors and some good scramble defence, by Field, restricted the scoring to six penalty points, courtesy of good kicks by Long on 61 and 71 minutes. The last one followed the yellow carding of Field full back Tom Lee, for dissent, when he lost possession trying to run the ball out of defence.
Field spent most of the second period inside their own half, but in the dying moments they finally broke into their opponents 22. The chance of stealing the spoils passed when they lost possession.
Next up for Huddersfield is a trip to Preston Grasshoppers, followed by a home game against Harrogate. The three teams are rooted in the relegation places in the table, all three yet to win a game. Gaz Lewis again, ‘The next couple of weeks will tell me a lot about the character of the squad.’
Huddersfield: Lee; Stewart K; Workman, Milner; Stewart F; Potter; Wilson; Effiom; Stapley; Rollins; Pearson; Brown; Parfitt; Thornton; Bradley (capt). Replacements: Catleugh; Summers; Brook; Jones; Mann.
Written by Richard Sykes.
Photo by Mathew Marsden.