HUDDERSFIELD V HUDDERSFIELD LAUND HILL….OVER 35’S MATCH REPORT
Huddersfield Legends Provide Christmas Cheer For Field……
AND…..North of England trial for Connor!
Written by George Hinchliff
It was time for the 4th round of this annual Titanic match up. We had won all the previous three bouts but these games were always ferocious battles that were much closer than the scores had suggested. I had put together a strong 25 man squad and was confident of victory. We would undoubtedly face a few dubious rugby league ringers but nothing that we couldn’t handle. The day before the mass exodus began with 7 players pulling out but to my surprise 5 extra players stepped up to answer the call to defend HRUFC’s honour.
Sadly, this year sees the complete retirement of club legend Hamish Pratt, a man who over his years has proved to be made of the right stuff. A man with more character than he has lemonade in a pint of beer. A man who many would pick in the Huddersfield best ever XV. A huge loss to the side and in the words of Chris Duffy, “Probably the difference between us winning rather than loosing the last three matches.” Never, the less, we must persevere and it was my job to not let his legacy fail now.
Our team was loosely based on the current A-Team bolstered by a few familiar names. Chris ‘Johno’ Johnson and Danny ‘Broughy’ Brough (I apologise if you’re struggling with the nicknames) made for a very promising centre combination, not to mention their kicking potential. James Giblin and Chris Duffy at half backs were also a pleasure to have on the team sheet. Gareth Tinker was a safety net at full back. Leaving A-Team veterans Ian Agnew and Harry ‘Dobby the Elf’ Granger on the wings. The backs were highly skilful with plenty of pace. The pack was ‘The A-Team’ front row of Josh Cook, Joe Shiel and Niall Phayer. Andy Lyon stepped into the second row for his lineout prowess, partnered with big Justin Brown. Leaving veteran and incredibly high scoring Number 8 Jamie Rhodes flanked by Darren ‘Irish’ Neilly and myself (George Hinchliff). We also had a bench of Academy Legend Neil Pollock, debutant and u9’s coach Jon Grafton, A-Team blast from the past Daniel ‘Din’ Northcote with a few of the usual A-Team riff raff (Mark Campbell, Neil Thornton, Andre ‘The Giant’ Baillion and Luke Grafton.
I warned the lads that this game was no joke. We were in hostile territory and would get a right paggering if we weren’t at the top of our game. We warmed up pretty well and everyone was confident of victory. Then the Laund Hill lads came out and Broughy looked slightly alarmed. Apparently, Laund Hill had somehow brought Samoa Rugby League prop Suaia Matagi who had cancelled playing for Castleford Tigers for the honour of the chance of a Huddersfield Legends scalp! I’ll be honest, I had no idea who he was but Broughy told me he was class and an absolute nightmare to tackle. So, I shrugged and said just tell Johno to mark him Problem solved, Johno can tackle and he’s way too stubborn to lose. Problem solved!! So, it was time for the toss, you wouldn’t believe it but I’m a completely undefeated tosser this season, maybe the mightiest tosser in the land. I opted to receive the kick.
They obliged and in the mist and rain they kicked it straight to me, I drove it back and we were underway. We attacked for a few minutes then sadly fumbled the ball. Scrum time and I asked the 123 boys for nothing less than complete dominance. Well, The Laund Hill lads clearly hadn’t read the script as it was very even. Then they passed the ball to Mr Samoa and he charged. Johno absolutely smashed him but it didn’t stop him, Johno went down injured and it took three to pull the mountain down. Luckily, they fumbled in the ruck and it was scrum time again. Johno was down, I was a little concerned but Johno looked at me in pain and said its just a stinger. So as predicted Johno wasn’t prepared to consider loosing and he continued. For twenty minutes they piled on the pressure and there were about five try saving tackles coming from the centres and one from Giblin. I had missed their other Islander who was at 8, but not in a critical way. A decent player but I was still trying to recover from my spinal dislocation from 3 weeks before. Their first team hooker Ben ‘Hill Billy’ Hill managed to break our line on 25 mins but I and three others held him up. The Laund hill crowd were in full carnival spirit and the banging of the boards and jeering were deafening. Their fifteen thousand fans seemed to be some how drowning out our fifteen fans. On the 28th minute, despite Herculean defence, Laund Hill Centre Andy Boothroyd crossed for a try to put them in front and they kicked the conversion. It’s times like this when strong leadership is vital. Duffy told everyone it was OK we were playing nicely. Or some other complete nonsense. I immediately took over and screamed that we were in the battle of our lives and club pride itself was at stake. Only Jamie Rhodes who had valiantly carried several times from 8 was out of the firing line. As we set up, I heard Duffy jeering that I was ruining his upbeat mood! Bloody fancy dan backs!
So, we kicked off and again they came at us for another 8 minutes. Our defence held tight and we could feel the tide beginning to turn we were slowly but surely clawing our way back into the game. Then after some sustained pressure and a few decent backs moves we gained a penalty five metres away from their line. With Rhodesy playing a blinder at 8 it was obvious what to do, any blind half wit would know. So, I instantly called for the scrum, Duffy questioned the decision in front of the ref, I repeated the scrum call and Duffy suddenly screamed we’ve got to tap, so I ran at him stepped to his right received the pop and scored whilst they were all wittering that we had called for a scrum. I have no idea where they got that idea from? Typical Laund Hill, any old excuse! Johno kicked the conversion, like it was ever in doubt and the Ref blew for half time.
Changes were made Rhodesy was praised and was rewarded with a rest for Neil Pollock at 8. Daniel Northcote aged 44 came on for Ian Agnew on the wing bringing the average age down by 3 years. Ian had as always conducted himself well. Andre Baillion came on at hooker allowing Shiel a rest. To carry on our master class in the lineout we had a fool proof system. They were only marking two so we threw it to me at 4 completely unmarked and would do so every time until they marked me. They would never work it out even though Justin was struggling with the calls. I had a quick word about controlling the ball, only kicking on the front foot and trusting the forwards to build the platform before we released our potent back line. I also asked Duffy to make an effort to get with the programme. He just smiled.
Then they tried to poison us! Just like the ‘95 final, just ask Andre! Port and mince pies at half time? You must be joking? This is a serious contest between two teams at the peak of their fitness and for some the highlight of their careers! The front row looked interested. I was going to have to set an example so I walked over took two huge slugs from the bottle of port and then politely declined the mince pie! I know full well that’ll turn your stomach, almost definitely poisoned too I thought as I took my third drink from the bottle before passing it on to the eagerly awaiting Shiel. These are the sort of critical decisions you have to make as a leader.
We started the half and immediately got on the front foot, we gained a lineout 35 metres from their line and I soared up unmarked at 4 and Andre threw it not straight directly to their 2 jumper’s outside arm. I don’t know if he was confused which team he was on or if he’d been at the mince pies! But either way it was pretty bad! Never mind! They sent the Samoan giant at us and he came down my channel. One of the backs possibly Giblin hit him high and he went straight down gaining him best tackle of the match. I stood up with both the Samoans ankles in my arms but apparently it was Giblin’s hit that did it! Well, if it pays out, it pays out! Before too long we got some ball, smashed it up and went wide down the left. Broughy to Johno, Johno, to Dobby, Dobby to Din, Din forward pass to Johno, Johno forward pass to Din but Din couldn’t quite get there so one final forward offload to Johno and he scored right in the corner! The Ref made probably his only serious mistake of the game by awarding the try! Maybe he too was groggy from the mince pies? No one was complaining, well actually about 15,000 of them were but they were clearly all wrong! Johno just missed the kick from the touch line, he too must have foolishly had a mince pie! There was no doubt now.
So, we were up for the first time in the game and I told the boys that we needed to retain possession and take a strangle hold on the game. They kicked off very quickly whilst no one was looking but luckily Cooky reacted and drove the ball in. Duffy had the ball at the base of the ruck and immediately fly hacked the ball down the field with absolutely no warning. What a complete….. but Duffy is a great player and you have to deal with the madness of great players as the inspiration gets the better of them. So, we persevered. We managed to get a turnover and before too long Johno had also started dubious unannounced kicks down the field, but his forced the full back to kick the ball out in their 22. The lineout was set, Justin insisted we repeat the call, I soared and Andre couldn’t possibly…oh wait… this time he threw it, not to me, unmarked at 4, as asked. Nope he through it a clear 2m over the top of my arms where it landed in the midfield and took a wicked bounce straight into the arms of the huge Samoan. I politely ($%£$%&^) asked for thrower to be changed. Andre had clearly had a whole box of the pies! Falling for his own adopted countries trick. The Samoan charged and Johno hit him hard and reasonably high whilst Broughy flew like a ballistic missile at his calves. He went straight down! The Super League ain’t got nothing on these two lunatics! We regained pressure and this time we played the way I like, really simple, with strong drives and neat little off loads and we piled the pressure on. They somehow forced a knock-on on their own line as Shiel heroically tried to power over. So, their scrum, our front row pushed them back and Duffy harassed their 9 who threw a truly awful pass to their full back. It was very high and slow and the entire back row were on him and the ball was juggled eventually caught in goal by their 10. Niall our prop thought all was lost then he heard the voice of God, or at-least he thought it sounded like God. Shouting “Just bloody rip him”, so with one hand he took the ball, whilst casually discarding the opposition 10 with the other, then dropped to the ground, to score our third try. Johno converted and we were definitely gaining momentum! Our fifteen fans were clearly heard now as the home supporters started to head for the bar!
More reinforcements came on John Grafton at 6, Luke Durrant on the wing and Neil Thornton at scrum half. We kicked off and this time it was Hill Billy who came at us, I went for him but he suddenly massively changed direction round Justin and close to Duffy. Duffy heroically ordered Justin to tackle him but he was too late, Hill Billy was flying up the field and no one could catch him. With just Dobby to beat, suddenly out of nowhere he was absolutely clattered by Supersonic Brough! A try saving tackle to rival the best. We gained the ball and worked our way back up, Johno was on fire with his war cry of “Just give it Dobby” The backs did very well and then the ball came to Niall on full rhino charge! I’m not sure what happened next, I think he handed one off then the others, just resigned to their fate, let him score, a prop, from 30m! Unheard of in my day, but we’ll take it. Johno Kicked the conversion.
Now it was Campbell time. What is Campbell time you ask? It’s when there is no longer any chance of loosing and you’re prepared to let the infamous Campbell on the field. Ironically he has a whole stack of brothers and they’re all an interesting bunch. Anyway, I digress. They kicked deep and big John Grafton powered up the field for a 20m gain, before passing to Cooky. Not too shabby at all! Then we kicked deep and they tried to return. Their 9 beat the kick chase, switched with the Huge Samoan, who switched with the Samoan 8 who switched with some dipstick who dropped the ball. Our scrum, Pollock time! What happens when you run a mad 19 stone Scottish number 8 at a Samoan Number 8 who’s sneaked on to the flank? Who knows, so let’s find out! Well, the Samoan 8 hit Pollock hard and high. Wrestling like a pair of sumos the big Scotsman pushed him back for about 15m! Very tasty! We took a couple of short drives up the middle and their defence was spread very thin. I saw a hole on the right and accelerated at it and just as Neil Thornton was about to pass, a large Irish hand from within the ruck poached it, and then out of the ruck Irish ran straight forward leaving the Laund Hill lads perplexed as Neilly scored our fifth try. Then an administrative error from me, I realised we still had an unplayed sub and the ref was declaring it time 10 mins early! So, we brought on the ‘Special’ team! I stood down Johno and Craig Joyce stepped up for the conversion in front if the posts, no idea what position he plays but I could tell he was a specialist kicker as he picked up some grass and through it in the air! I’ve seen it on the telly! Then he pulled a silly pose, and with a huge grin he hooked the kick both wide and under the bar! That was that! Job done!
Once again, the score 31-7, told a very different story to the true battle. On a different day, without huge efforts in defence it could have been a Samoan Siesta. Not this day, not when it counted! Some truly great performances and a fantastic spectacle to watch! They played a hard game and were kept going to the end. They achieved parity in the scrum and near parity in the lineout but it wasn’t quite enough. Their trick to poison us seemed to have back fired. Order was restored club pride was once again upheld and a great day was had by all. Congratulations on the Laund Hill lads for raising £500 and for having a few beers with us after the game, a top bunch.
Laund Hill Man of the Match…. Ben ‘Hill Billy’ Hill.
Huddersfield Man of the Match…. Chris Johnson.
Danny Brough was also superb along with James Giblin, Niall Phayer and several others.
Try scorers…Georg Hinchliff, Chris Johnson, Niall Phayer x2, Darren Neilly
Conversions..Chris Johnson x3.
Written by George Hinchliff.
North of England trial for Connor
Lockwood Park played host to the six northern counties Colts teams and the North of England selectors on Sunday 8th January. In the games Durham beat Lancashire, Northumberland beat Cumbria and Cheshire got the better of Yorkshire. Huddersfield’s Connor Tyne impressed at loose head prop for Yorkshire. Connor, 18, is an apprentice engineer at Thomas Broadbent and has been a corner stone contributor to his club team’s success this season.