Huddersfield produced a magnificent defensive display and took their scoring chances well against a strong and powerful Stourbridge team. In an epic encounter at Lockwood Park they ran out winners 15 points to 10.
After back to back defeats the visitors arrived intent on avoiding another. With a powerful pack and a pacey set of backs they made the early running putting Huddersfield’s defensive qualities to the test in the opening quarter of an hour. After eight minutes Stourbridge full back Joe Heatley made an incisive and threatening break only to see his team knock on when play reached the Huddersfield 22.
Having survived the early pressure Huddersfield produced an attacking response and took the lead with a Tom Hodson try on 17 minutes. Winger Kian Stewart and flanker Lewis Bradley, both back after injury, contributed to the turn around. Stewart took play into the Stourbridge half with a break down the right and Bradley triggered another attack following a great steal at the breakdown following a subsequent counter.
Fly half Chris Johnson, making his first appearance for Huddersfield since re-signing from Sale FC put his vast experience to good effect throughout and after taking possession following Bradley’s good work he fashioned a long range kick to touch pegging the visitors back on their 22. At the line out Bradley was on hand again to re-gain possession for the home side, the ball was shipped full width left taking play to the Stourbridge line where they were penalised. Huddersfield took the line out option mauling the ball back to the line and re-cycling it infield where centre Will Milner grubbed through for Hodson to run on to and dot down.
Although Johnson missed the conversion attempt he extended Huddersfield’s lead with a penalty on 25 minutes when Stourbridge failed to release in a tackle on their 10 metre line. Stourbridge fly half Rickie Aley missed a chance to get his team on the scoreboard when Huddersfield were penalised for a high tackle 35 metres out, his kick drifting just wide of the posts.
The third quarter saw a battle of attrition fought mainly inside the Huddersfield 22 but once again the home defence proved strong. Having survived the early onslaught Huddersfield cashed in when the chance presented itself. Centre Lewis Workman cut a great running line to breach the Stourbridge defence and was ably backed up by Bradley at the breakdown. He created space for himself to skate through for a try under the posts which Johnson had no problem converting.
The try was followed by more attacking pressure by Huddersfield. On the hour Johnson switched the line of attack with a beautifully weighted cross field kick which landed perfectly for Stewart to run onto. The pacey wing man broke down the right and it took some good cover tackling to drive him into touch just 10 metres short.
Stourbridge dominated the final stages and got themselves back in the game with a try on 65 minutes. Huddersfield were under pressure in a series of scrummages close to their line and when Hal Riley broke right following a third consecutive re-set winger Mark Harrison found himself in plenty of space on the overlap to touch down.
Aley’s conversion went over off the post but a determined home side were in no mood to allow their visitors another score. Jubilation marked every tackle as the clock ticked down and although Stourbridge had the final word when Aley landed a penalty with the last kick of the game it was Huddersfield’s day.
Head Coach Gaz Lewis was delighted with his team’s endeavour, ‘As expected this was a very attritional game but the lads defended superbly and took their chances. We struggled to convert mid-field territory into pressure due to individual errors and a high penalty count but I thought the way we scrummaged in the last ten minutes was fantastic. Once again the character of the squad shone through.’ The win and Otley’s 29 14 defeat of Hinckley takes Huddersfield back to third place in National 2 North.
Richard Sykes, Huddersfield Daily Examiner.