MAGNIFICENT FIELD TAME TIGERS
Huddersfield produced a magnificent display to come from 17 nil down and defeat Sheffield Tigers 31-24 at Dore Moor in their penultimate National 2 North match. Tigers built their lead in a dominant first half hour. Fly half Mark Ireland opened the scoring with a penalty which was backed up by two converted tries. Field produced a dynamic response to the set backs and classy tries by Lewis Bradley and Kian Stewart, both of which were converted by Will Milner, narrowed the gap before the interval to set the scene for a breath taking second half.
Huddersfield’s director of rugby, Gaz Lewis, said afterwards, ‘That was a fantastic game. To come from behind and win in such style was superb. Our set piece improved in the second half and that allowed us to build our attacking game and score some good tries.’
Ireland’s penalty came just 4 minutes into the game and, having dominated the first scrum, Tigers’ put their trust in the pack. The scrum option was taken at a penalty in the corner and the game became mired in a series of re-sets as Field struggled to halt the drive. Referee Sam Yates lost patience with Field, with hooker Liam Stapley the man singled out for the sin bin. Tigers then drove over for the opening try, Number 8 Tom Calladine dotting down.
Tigers second try came moments later. Lock Joe Fitzsimons intercepted a floated pass and broke clear to put wingman Lewis Taylor in for the score.
Field full back Tom Hodson triggered the start of the great come back. Having taken possession from a high clearance kick he ran the ball up field with Milner in support. Milner made good yards and fed flanker Liam Parfitt who cut inside and delivered the ball to Bradley who crashed through for a try between the posts.
After patient build up from half way, winger Kian Stewart scored a second try for Field five minutes later. Fly half Milner once again made the decisive break, Hodson came into the line and took possession but was tackled just short, the ball then reached Kian Stewart and the pacey wingman finished the move in style.
Field ended the first half on the front foot with the score at 17-14 to Tigers.
Two determined teams took to the turf for the second half which started quietly as both teams used the full width in search of a gap in the other’s defence. It was the Tigers who found it. A penalty had pinned Field back close to their line. From the lineout the ball was worked through a couple of phases before reaching scorer Samuel Down on the right wing. Ireland maintained his 100% kicking record with the conversion.
It took Field just five minutes to reduce the deficit once again. Having won a scrum penalty on half way Field took a quick tap. Bradley and lock Eddie Brown showed great determination, driving through tackles to make ground. The ball was shipped wide to Kian Stewart on the left wing who fed it inside to centre Lewis Workman to cruise in for the try which Milner converted.
Field were now playing with real passion and purpose and starting to rattle their hosts and the game was taking on a distinctly feisty aspect. With Field pressing Tigers were penalised close to their line and assembled behind it to try to halt the onslaught. The tap was taken and the teams locked horns, the fierce contest ending when skipper Bradley barrelled over for the bonus point try to give his team the lead.
Tempers frayed and referee Yates delivered even handed yellow cards to Huddersfield centre Ed Barber and Sheffield prop William Bennett to settle things down before Milner nailed the conversion.
In the final quarter the Stewart brothers, Field’s pacey wing men, came close to wrapping things up but outstanding last ditch defence by Tigers’s full back Greg Mellor and scrum half Ryan Holmes denied both Kian and Finlay after they had crossed the line.
Bradley saw yellow on 62 minutes and with the score at 24-28 Tigers rallied in search of the chance of a winning score. Their best came with 10 minutes to go. Field flanker Liam Parfitt was shown the yellow card for a high tackle close to his line but he was trumped by a red one for Calladine for a more serious misdemeanour. The reversal of the penalty allowed Field to clear their lines.
With two minutes to go Field were once again battling inside the Tigers 22 and when the hosts were penalised Milner took the opportunity to extend the lead to 7 points. The match ended with Tigers on the attack but Field were resilient and hung on for their 11th win of the season.
The final National 2 North match takes place at Lockwood Park next Saturday, kick off 3pm. Gaz Lewis said. ‘It’s been a long old season but we’ll aim to finish strongly against second placed Fylde.’
Huddersfield: Hodson; Stewart F; Workman; Barber; Stewart K; Milner; Wilson; Effiom; Stapley; Rollins; Pearson; Brown; Myers; Parfitt; Bradley (capt). Replacements: Dawson; Thompson; Swift; Thornton.
Written by Richard Sykes
Photo by Darren George