A WORKMANLIKE Huddersfield performance earned them a comprehensive 49-13 win against Harrogate in National Two North on Saturday.
In contrast, Harrogate seriously underperformed, particularly in the backs.
This outcome could not have been predicted during the first half. The strong Huddersfield defence was severely tested during the opening 10 minutes and the visitors deserved more than the 0-3 lead from a Matt Roberts penalty. Two minutes later, in Huddersfield’s first serious attack, Harrogate went offside and a penalty from metronomic kicker, Chris Johnson, levelled the score.
More Harrogate attacks followed though repeated handling errors and strong home defence restricted them to another penalty goal. Huddersfield countered and a freakish bounce caught Harrogate offside for Johnson to equalise.
The home pack then moved up a gear and a succession of driving mauls put Harrogate under enormous pressure near their line. Ben Innes was judged to have prevented a score illegally and this resulted in a converted penalty try and a yellow card for Innes.
Harrogate were still very much in the game at this stage with Ryan Peacey, Tim Heaton and Steve Maycock to the fore in the forwards and Sam Bottomley showing real penetration in the backs. Huddersfield then went offside and the depleted Harrogate pack set up a driving maul from which Peacey drove over for a fine try converted by Callum Irvine.
Today’s referees are criticised from all quarters for allowing scrum halves to feed the scrums. A blatant Huddersfield feed was unchecked but Harrogate were penalised for a scrummaging offence. Johnson’s kick duly restored the narrow home lead but a catastrophic Harrogate midfield error left them 10 points adrift at the interval. A bad Arnie Ellison fumble led to loose ball which was hacked through by Lee Paxman to set up a converted try for his fellow centre, Mike Clark.
Irvine, who’d shown some excellent touches in the first half, was unable to resume because of a shoulder injury. The Huddersfield machine then went into overdrive and took control for the rest of the match. Clark scored his second try from a well constructed back move and replacement hooker Ben Morrill drove through some feeble tackling for 7 more home points.
Harrogate persisted with over adventurous back play from defence which never seriously stretched Huddersfield and they responded with quickly spun ball which earned Paxman a converted try. Still more wild back play in defence resulted in Huddersfield’s Adam Ryder snapping up another loose ball for the sixth home try.
To their credit, Harrogate never gave up and a series of attacking driving mauls were ended by 3 successive penalties against Huddersfield. This was the sort of situation which led to Huddersfield’s first half penalty try but Mr Vertigan obviously didn’t see it that way.
Huddersfield: Owen, Ryder, Clark, Paxman, Hall, Johnson, J Hinchcliffe, Battye, Entressengle, Stringwell, G Hinchcliff, Rhodes, Lewis, Hoyle, Sharpe
Harrogate: Smithies, Ellison, Bottomley, Quarendon, Heylings, Irvine (Davies 40), Wickham, Bergmanas, Maycock (Yorke 55), Innes (Fraser 55), J Brady (Harvey 50), S Brady (Maud 55), Wilson, Heaton, Peacey