Huddersfield 34-31 Preston Grasshoppers
Hoppers chances of finishing second ended with their first loss for four games to a resilient Huddersfield side. In an enthralling game both sides ran in five tries and put on a wonderful display of attacking rugby with the game only being separated by a 40m Chris Johnson penalty five minutes from time.
Head Coach Dave Baldwin was obviously disappointed with the result but feels the team can build from the defeat; “I think that brought us back down to earth after the big win last week, the fact that we scored three early tries gave us too much confidence and in truth we could have been out of sight by the time they got on the score sheet. But some poor decisions and an inability to keep the ball cost us.”
He added; “We didn’t keep the ball enough going forward and our defence was poor, we got a 17 point lead but we dropped off after that.”
Hoppers cause wasn’t helped by the officials as they were penalised at multiple breakdowns when similar infringements by the hosts were going unnoticed and had two seemingly good push over tries ruled out, with Huddersfield benefitting from some generous officiating in the build-up to a couple of their scores.
It was a game that started so promisingly for Hoppers with three tries in the opening quarter, first Dominic Moon continued his impressive form after a well worked line out move was given out to the backs and then quickly moved back against the grain with Karl Fitzpatrick and Nathan Fowles combining well to put Moon in space, and he was able to step his man to score.
Fitzpatrick then showed a nice step to cross for the first of his two tries in another impressive outing following a great break from Sean Taylor from the restart. Taylor took the ball up to the 22 and with Moon and Killian Wallace in support Hoppers quickly recycled the ball with Fitzpatrick beating him man on the outside to score in the corner.
Moon grabbed his second after Hoppers pinned Field inside their own 22 following a good Fitzpatrick kick and a strong chase by Alex Austin and Matt Gargett. With a scrum near the line just held up Hoppers carried round the fringe a couple of times before the number 8 powered his way over.
Huddersfield got themselves on the score sheet with a Chris Johnson converted try after a Hoppers turn over on half way and five minutes from the half Johnson’s inside ball put winger Dave Hall into acres of space to take the sides in 14-17.
It was Johnson who was the catalyst for the hosts and soon after the restart he collect his own chip and put Adam Ryder away down the left for their first lead of the game which they stretched to 24-17 when Hall got his second score.
Hoppers levelled when Fitzpatrick again showed good vision and quick feet to jink his way across the line after a sustained period of pressure, this pressure had already lead to Huddersfield’s Captain Nick Sharpe shown a yellow card and Hoppers used the man advantage to pull in the defence and then quickly move the ball wide with Fitzpatrick cutting inside to score.
Huddersfield would score soon after from a Ryder break as he found full back Tom Owen in support on his inside shoulder and when Johnson finally found his kicking boots the league’s top scorer put the host 10 points clear with the critical penalty.
Hoppers gave themselves a chance when Wallace crossed following another good break from Fitzpatrick who had tormented the home defence all day with his sniping runs and found Wallace in constant support with a nice offload out of the tackle however it wasn’t to be and they had to settle for two bonus points which does move them up to third in the league.
Next week sees Hoppers host league champions Loughborough Students, kick of is at 3pm.
Here is the footage of Hoppers 5 tries.