Huddersfield 28 – 27 Preston Grasshoppers
In a fast-paced game which saw some dogged defending by both packs, an almost certain Hoppers victory turned into a disappointing defeat at Lockwood Park.
From the kick off Hoppers looked lively, shrugging off the sluggish start to their last away match with early penetrating runs by Altham and Scott making good ground.
Huddersfield responded and after several kicking exchanges, were rewarded with a penalty in front of the Preston posts quickly taken by Will Milner.
The home side then kept up the pressure and only a try-saving tackle from Conor Trueman prevented them from extending their lead straight away. However, another penalty in front of the posts gave Huddersfield a six point lead from the boot of Milner.
Hoppers’ forwards then created a series of attacks, pinning down the opposition inside their own twenty two metre line, winning scrums and moving through the phases as they constantly pressurized the Huddersfield try line which proved too much for the home side’s Bradley who was yellow carded for foul play. From the penalty scrum five metres out, Matt Lamprey crossed the line in the corner.
From the re-start a penalty on the ten metre line was converted by Tom Davidson to put Hoppers ahead 6-8. Spurred on by this the backs launched a scything attack with a ‘Cipriani-esque’ long pass from Davidson taken at speed by Tyler Spence on the wing to score a superb try which Davidson then converted.
With their sin bin period over, a shell-shocked Huddersfield managed to defend their way to the end of the half and the teams went in with the score at 6-15.
Hoppers started the second half as they had left off the first with a blistering run from Scott Jordan passing to Conor Trueman and leading to a line out on the Huddersfield five metre line. Hoppers won the ball and Ally Murray burst over the line to score in the second minute of the half. Davidson converted and the score was a healthy 6-22.
Huddersfield then regrouped, retaining the ball through several phases and from a series of re-set scrums Joseph Green crossed the line and the conversion by Milner was good.
Hoppers responded quickly and from the re-start a penalty had them deep in the Huddersfield half. Securing the ball from a Huddersfield scrum then enabled James Fitzpatrick to score the bonus point try.
With the score at 11-27 and ten minutes to go, Hoppers seemed home and dry, just needing to see out the match, only to have a series of errors allow the home side to score three tries in the dying minutes.
Speaking after the match coach Arnold said he was disappointed. “Hoppers played some good stuff against a very good Huddersfield side. The result came down to a poor decision to kick with three minutes to go which conceded two tries.”
Next Saturday will be another stern test against Sedgley Park and hopefully the team can build on the periods of dominant play by both forwards and backs at Huddersfield to gain all the points in this home fixture.
Report by John Le Page, picture by Mike Craig