Huddersfield rue missed opportunities against Preston Grasshoppers.
Huddersfield were outperformed in attack and defence by Preston Grasshoppers in the National 2 North basement battle at Lockwood Park. Hoppers built up a 22 point lead early on which was reduced by an Ethan Myers try on the stoke of half time. Despite a second half brace by Field hooker Harry Moore Hoppers proved far more clinical and maintained their advantage for a deserved 41-17 win.
Huddersfield head coach Rob Anderson was disappointed with the result but did manage to find some positives in his team’s performance. He said, “It was good to see the lineout functioning well. The team has worked hard to focus on this area to realise its potential as a platform. I thought lock Luke Pearson, making his 50th appearance in only his second game after a return from injury, made a significant impact and ran the lineout superbly.
“We didn’t capitalise on our opportunities in the first half but we rallied in the second and produced some dominant scrummaging, a key part of our DNA.”
After a competitive start Hoppers struck first when Keohane Edward wriggled through the defence for a try following a scrum which fly half Will Hunt converted. They struck again in the 15th minute, Scott Richardson carrying in the maul from a 10 metre lineout for a try which Hunt failed to convert.
Field then started fighting back and looked the better team for the next 15 minutes. Playing the ball around nicely with scrum half Paul Harrison pulling the strings they moved the ball from side to side. Some powerful running from Pearson and prop Harry Whitfield made inroads into the defensive line taking play to the Hoppers try line for a sustained period. However the visitors defence remained resolute and the ball eventually came loose and was kicked away.
Field continued to move the ball forward nicely but remained frustrated by the Hoppers defence. In the 31st minute their frustration was compounded when Hoppers gained possession and kicked over the top, William Riley chasing through down the touch line for a try which Hunt again failed to convert.
Having withstood more pressure Hoppers capitalised on some poor defensive play from the home side, cutting them open with ease. Hunt held off two challenges and lunged over the line to round off a sharp team move for the bonus point try but he was wide of the mark with his conversion attempt.
Field finally got a reward for their pressure after Hoppers flanker Ben Dorrington was yellow carded. Lewis Workman kicked the penalty for a lineout. The catch was clean and after some strong running Myers held off three Preston players and got over the line. Joe Potter just missed the conversion leaving the half time score at 5-22.
Field started the second half brightly and upped their tempo. In the 48th minute Hoppers full back Jacob Browne was yellow carded for a high tackle and Field kicked for a 5 metre lineout which worked beautifully with Moore bundling the ball over for the first of his tries. Myers just missed the conversion from a tight angle.
Field full back Finlay Stewart carried the ball well from inside his own half and found himself in a good position. However his pass was cut out by prop Tom Guest who looked like he was through but was crunched down by Joe Potter who saw yellow for his tackle.
Browne came back on the pitch and had an immediate impact. Hoppers now had a one man advantage and utilised the space to create a 3 on 1. Browne kicked a long ball to the in goal area which Dorrington just reached and touched down for a try which Hunt converted. Hooker Jack Wilkinson then drove over from a lineout for an unconverted try for Hoppers to make the score 10-34.
Field scored again in the 77th minute, Moore notching his second try in almost identical fashion to his first but it was too little too late. Hopper’s winger Tyler Spence was given a yellow for a high tackle and Moore drove the ball over from a 5-metre lineout. Myers added the extras.
Hoppers then scored another try on the full-time whistle, Riley surprising the Field defence by squeezing through after taking a quick tap penalty. Alexander Ward made the conversion to end the game.
The win lifts Preston Grasshoppers to 9th place in the table and leaves Huddersfield firmly rooted at the bottom.
Huddersfield travel to take on Sheffield RUFC next Saturday. Anderson said, “We recognise that we have to tighten up some areas of our game but we will be working hard to turn the corner in preparation for next week.”
Huddersfield: Stewart F; Ryder; Workman; Myers; Horsfall; Potter; Harrison; Thompson; Moore; Whitfield; Pearson; Barnard; Davis; Quinn; Hammond. Replacements: Rollins; Wilson; Foreman; Haywood; Dawson.
Written by Daniel Allerton.
Photos by Ray Morris.