National II North confidence is back says coach Gareth Lewis
By Richard Sykes
After an indecisive first half, Huddersfield finished strongly to earn their 11th National II North win 44-10 against Sheffield.
They scored five tries in the second half at Lockwood Park to secure a Yorkshire derby double over the struggling visitors.
Huddersfield lost the services of Nick Sharpe early on. The flanker was yellow-carded following a technical infringement after five minutes, but Joel Hinchliffe gave 14-man Field a three-point lead with a penalty during his time out.
Thereafter, the visitors dominated territory and looked the more threatening of the two sides.
They went in front with a touchline try by winger Gareth Morley which was magnificently converted by scrum half Steve Depledge.
However, a series of knock-ons and unforced errors prevented them extending their advantage and, when Sheffield prop Tom Marples was sin-binned for reckless play after 20 minutes, Hinchliffe narrowed the gap with his second penalty kick.
At the set-piece Sheffield looked solid at the line-outs, with lock Dom Parsons taking a lot of clean ball.
However, Huddersfield were dominating the scrummages, posing problems for their visitors and gaining an attacking edge.
Having survived a prolonged defensive spell in their own half without any change to the score, Huddersfield seized on a late chance to take a half-time lead.
A well-judged kick behind the Sheffield line by centre Will Milner forced a defensive throw 10m out.
Uncharacteristically, the ball was slapped to the ground at the jump and Field secured the turnover.
The ball was moved swiftly along the three-quarter line, eventually reaching Tom Owen in the centre, who rolled out of the tackle for a try.
Huddersfield made a lively start to the second half and pegged Sheffield back inside their 22.
Lock Dave Clayton became the second Sheffield player to visit the sin-bin after an illegal attempt to halt the go-forward, and although Hinchliffe missed his kick at goal his team took control of the game with three tries in 10 minutes.
Winger Brandon Conway got the first. Huddersfield had taken possession behind a Sheffield scrum and when the ball reached him on the flank he grubbed it forward into the in-goal and won the foot chase to touch down.
Front row men Ben Morrill and Francis Entressengle got the next two. Both players managed to break powerfully from congested situations in the 15m channel to score behind the posts.
Hinchliffe had no trouble adding the extras.
Although Sheffield had taken their tally into double figures with a second Depledge penalty, they had lost their rhythm and were looking beleaguered.
A penalty kick to touch set up an attacking line-out for Huddersfield which resulted in a powerful maul being driven towards the line.
When it was brought down illegally just short, Marples was held responsible and referee Harry Walbaum flashed yellow and red cards in quick succession and awarded the penalty try.
From the penalty kick re-start Huddersfield took possession and held it through several well-worked phases, Sheffield desperately trying to halt the building momentum.
Eventually, second row Adam Malthouse proved too strong a man to stop and burst clear to run in the final try of the match.
With two minutes left Hinchliffe added the final two points with the conversion.
It was the ideal way to say farewell to prop Reuben Pollard as he heads to New Zealand for a season and Huddersfield head coach Gareth Lewis said: “This was a very good second-half performance.
“We eventually began to control field position, got on top up front and scored some excellent tries.
“Our defence was strong and our attack is improving week on week.
“Without doubt our confidence is back and we have six games in which to finish as high up the table as possible.”