Thrilling last minute victory for never say die Huddersfield.
Huddersfield secured their fifth consecutive National 2 North victory in the most dramatic fashion on their road trip to Sheffield. They were 19-6 down at half time but produced a disciplined and determined second half display. They scored two tries to narrow the gap and stole the spoils with the last kick of the game to win 26-24.
Head coach Gaz Lewis was thrilled by the result and said, ‘Full credit to Sheffield, they played some great rugby and put us under a lot of pressure. We weathered the first half storm and with 40 minutes to go still believed we could win. We re-grouped and problem solved our way back into the game. The heart and character in the team was the telling factor in today’s victory.’
In the first half Field stuttered and opportunities went begging as the team failed to find fluency. In contrast Sheffield found the clinical edge, producing three tries in the first half hour, including a brace by full back Archie Kimpton. Penalties to touch gave them field position with their effective catch and drive tactic from the lineouts creating the pressure on the Huddersfield line.
Kimpton crossed for his first on 12 minutes, nipping briskly through from close range. Ten minutes later scrum half Elliot Fisher breezed in when gifted a perfect pass after an excellent individual line break by lock Dave Clayden. Kimpton completed his brace by rounding the defence on the right wing on the back of a solid scrum deep inside the Huddersfield half. Fisher converted the first two.
Between the three tries Will Milner got the scoreboard ticking for Field with a couple of long range penalties. On the stroke of half time Field turned down an easy third, but the quest for a try came to nought when Sheffield, who had lost the defensive services of centre Will Smith to the sin bin just before the interval, held firm.
The second half proved a riveting affair as both teams worked hard to secure the win. Huddersfield’s rugby was controlled and disciplined, defensively sound and aggressive in attack they pressured Sheffield into penalties at the breakdowns and scrums.
A good start to the final 40 saw Ed Barber make ground in the centre and scrum half Joe Potter go close, with the breakthrough finally coming on 52 minutes. A forward drive following a free kick 5 metres from the Sheffield line ended with a try for skipper Lewis Bradley and a successful conversion by Milner.
The match defining period came around the hour mark. Sheffield mounted a determined attacking spell, working the ball through 25 continuous phases. Time and again they put the Field defence to the test, time and again Field stayed strong. Field’s defensive endeavour was patient and their tackling controlled and eventually the ball was turned over and they managed to clear their lines.
Two more Milner penalties either side of that decisive passage of play drew the scores level setting up a thrilling finale in the final 10 minutes.
Fisher secured the bonus point try for Sheffield, scrambling through the Field defence from 10 metres out on 75 minutes but his failure to convert left the visitors within a single score of winning the game.
With time almost up Field full back Tom Hodson took a good catch and offloaded to Kian Stewart who made good yards, with Bradley in close support. Sheffield conceded a penalty at the breakdown and the kick to touch took play deep inside the Sheffield 22. The host’s last ditch defence of their line was eventually broken by a second try for Bradley with Milner coolly nailing a not particularly easy conversion to snatch the victory (video below).
Congratulations, a well disciplined 2nd half.. pic.twitter.com/9MJT6mlaaC
— Peter Boardman (@peterboardman64) February 5, 2023
Next Saturday Huddersfield host Otley, kick off 2.15pm. Otley will provide another stiff test of Huddersfield’s character, they are 4th in the table and haven’t lost since the beginning of October.
Huddersfield: Hodson; Stewart K; Workman; Barber; Stewart F; Milner; Potter; Thompson; Effiom; Rollins; Pearson; Dawson; Parfitt; Bradley; Jennings. Replacements: Wilson; Law; Swift; Neilly; Smith.
Written by Richard Sykes.
Photos by Darren George