Match Preview – Huddersfield v Hull Ionians

CONTINUITY AND CHANGE AS FIELD GET SET FOR THE NEW SEASON.

Huddersfield RUFC open their National 2 North campaign at Lockwood Park tomorrow with a tough fixture against Hull Ionians, kick off 3pm. The Ionians have won the divisional title three times but Field had a convincing home win when the teams last met in January and they will be taking on the team that finished in third place last season in a confident mood.

There have been comings and goings at the club over the summer. The departure of skipper Lewis Bradley, who has moved on to play National 1 rugby at Sedgley Park, is perhaps the most significant loss. Fly half and leading points scorer Will Milner and Number 8 Eddie Brown, who have left for Rotherham Titans and Leeds Tykes respectively, will also be missed.

Importantly for Field brothers Kian and Finlay Stewart remain on the books. The pacey wingmen are amongst the most potent strikers in the National Leagues and their continued presence will provide the team with lots of attacking options.

Field have recruited well to compensate for the departures. New flanker Lewis Quinn impressed in the pre-season warm up against Stockport as did full back George Brown. Both were try scorers. Fly half Joe Gallagher looked assured with the boot, nailing three good conversions to help seal an emphatic win against the North West 1 outfit.

The vacant captain’s berth is being filled jointly by centre Ed Barber and prop Callum Thompson. Both are vastly experienced. Barber joined the club last season from Halifax RL and has also played professionally at Dewsbury and Castleford. Thompson has been with the club since 2017 and is an established senior player. The duo are pleased with the way that preparation has gone and think that the team is well balanced and ready. They are hoping for a solid season and a top half finish.

Neil Ryan and Rob Anderson will be in charge of the coaching. Ryan is the backs and attack coach and has taken the role of director of rugby high performance group. Anderson is head coach with responsibility for the forwards. Both men were coaching at Huddersfield last season having joined the club with top level playing pedigrees and a wealth of coaching experience. The departure of former director of rugby Gaz Lewis, who is now head coach at Cleckheaton, has meant that responsibilities at Huddersfield have been re-assigned.

Ryan said, ‘Our main priority has been to retain as many of last season’s squad as possible and It is pleasing to see how many players have re-signed. We have also managed to recruit new players to the group who bring a wealth of experience.

Callum and Ed have worked tirelessly during the off season and have been assisted by the new ‘leadership group’ we have formed. The playing group has bought into the culture and philosophy we are creating and have taken ownership of this.

We are under no illusions about how competitive this season is going to be and are fully aware that on their day each team can beat each other. There are some recognisably good teams in our league, with two new additions of Billingham and Lymm. Everyone within our group is excited about the challenges ahead and looking forward to having some fun along the way.’

Huddersfield: 1 Andy Rollins, 2 Ethan Myers, 3 Alex Dawson, 4 Luke Pearson, 5 Thiu Barnard, 6 Lewis Quinn, 7 Liam Parfitt, 8 Billy Hammond, 9 Joe Potter, 10 Joe Gallagher, 11 Max Horsfall, 12 Ed Barber (c), 13 Lewis Workman, 14 Finley Stewart, 15 Kian Stewart, 16 Simon Wilson, 17 Jack Smith, 18 Tom Haywood, 19 Felix Lorimer, 20 Ross Thornton, 21 Harry Moore.

Written by Richard Sykes.

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