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Home > News > Huddersfield 25 - Fylde 18 (including link for video footage)
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Your News Huddersfield 25 - Fylde 18 (including link for video footage)
14
MAR

When a team is at the top of the table, every other club wants to knock them off their pedestal and they raise their game accordingly. This was certainly true at Lockwood Park when a dogged Huddersfield squad battled like fury to embarrass league leaders Fylde and although they never looked like winning the game they certainly ruffled the Lancastrians' feathers. Despite a fluent and flowing opening in which they scored two beautiful tries in the first eight minutes in their normal style, Fylde were pulled back by a determined 'Field effort into a 'muck and nettles' 2nd half struggle.

Fylde had lost their two previous encounters at Lockwood Park and were looking to get this monkey off their backs as well as extending their ten match unbeaten record in league rugby. The opening exchanges were familiar to everyone who has watched the Woodlands side this season. Straight from kick off the Fylde forwards caught the ball and drove forward into midfield. The ball was moved left through all the backs hands to reach winger Oliver Brennand, 75m out, who shot around the covering Huddersfield centre, raced clear down the left touchline and then, with only full back Owen to beat, swerved outside him and squeezed in at the corner for his 17th try of the campaign. Steve Collins' attempted conversion drifted wide but Fylde had a 5-0 advantage.

Seven minutes later came the try of the day. Huddersfield were pressing on the Fylde line but possession was turned over at a ruck 5m out. Centre Mike Waywell, a week ahead of his England Counties debut, made the initial break up to half-way, drew the 'Field fullback and set Richard Kenyon free. The Fylde fullback needed no further invitation as he stepped inside the covering 'Field winger Stephen Pratt and streaked away to score his 14th try of the season under the posts. Collins converted and Fylde had a 12-0 lead. This was play befitting the league leaders.

The first setback for Fylde came on 13 minutes when lock Nick King was sinbinned for foul play. Huddersfield's crack goal kicking fly-half Chris Johnson, the leading scorer in the division, took due advantage and converted the penalty. But worse was to follow, firstly when a hamstring injury to the ever dangerous Brennand forced him off, then on 22 minutes as 'Field stepped up their play against Fylde's 14 men. A floated pass by scrum-half Hinchcliffe found winger Sutcliffe and he squeezed in at the corner. 12-8 to Fylde looked a lot less convincing as King returned to the field a minute later.

Battle was truly joined in a tight contest as the home side worked hard to keep the ball with their forwards and deny Fylde possession and space to move the ball through their more dangerous backs. The limited game plan worked up until a couple of minutes from half-time. From a Fylde scrummage 5m out from the Huddersfield line scrum-half Craig Aikman skipped over for an easy try. Collins converted and the visitors went into the break with a 19-8 lead. However, Fylde lost the influential Kenyon with a finger dislocation and he didn't appear for the 2nd half.

There was now a decidedly make-shift look to the Fylde backline with youngsters Sam Russell and Callum McShane joining the established players. This inevitably led to a little disruption to Fylde's usually fluent play, along with the fierce defence of the committed Huddersfield team.

'Field offences on 58 & 65 minutes gave Steve Collins the chance to kick penalties to extend the lead to 25-8. But a late rally by Huddersfield put the visitors on the back foot until the final whistle. In the 67th minute, direct from a restart, a telegraphed miss-pass by a Fylde back was seized on by Huddersfield fly-half Johnson and he intercepted it to run in an opportunistic try. He converted his own try and reduced the deficit in the process to 15-25.

Still Huddersfield came at Fylde looking for a consolation in the last few minutes. Two minutes from the end of normal time a Fylde offence allowed Johnson to kick another penalty and earn a deserved losing bonus point for his side.

Whilst their was an air of disappointment amongst the Fylde coaches and players that they had missed scoring a four-try bonus point for only the third occasion this season, they acknowledged the great effort made by a brave Huddersfield team. Although they were never really in danger of losing, Fylde recognised that some of their decision-making had been questionable, only partly excused by the injury disruption they suffered in their potent backline.

As Fylde lock Paul Arnold said afterwards; “All credit to Huddersfield as they tackled and fought for everything on the floor and made us dig deep for a gutsy win. They were lead superbly by no 10 Johnson and all the pack played well.”

Fylde lead the table by 23 points but have played more games than the chasing pack. They face another seven games against tough opponents who will try to emulate and improve on Huddersfield's performance. With injuries building up and representative calls imminent, the depth of Fylde's squad will be truly tested.

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