Huddersfield 20-31 Beverley

Happily, for both these sides, there is no relegation from Yorkshire One this season; otherwise, this might have been a tense relegation dogfight. In the event it was an enjoyable and entertaining game with plenty of running rugby; carefree, almost, with nothing much at stake. Huddersfield YMCA must have one of the most pleasant playing grounds in the league and with ideal conditions and a fine sunny afternoon, there was every reason to hope for a good game.

Beverley made an early impact with some slick passing which led to a try for Jacob Baggs after only five minutes when the ball was moved right from a scrum on halfway. Huddersfield had some lively runners in their backs but the Beverley backline looked more polished as a unit. Nonetheless, Huddersfield soon struck back. Luckily for Beverley, their fly-half hung on when a home try looked certain but a powerful run by their number eight did bring an equalising try after a quarter of an hour. The number eight was a constant threat throughout although he was later booked for a hand-off which would have done credit to Tyson Fury.

Rob Smith, dodging between several defenders, quickly restored Beverley’s lead with a try under the posts and with their increasing dominance, they looked likely to add to it and comfortably run away with the game. Both sides were throwing the ball about enterprisingly but both were subject to some loose handling and sloppy tackling, perhaps one of the contributory factors in their both being at the wrong end of the table.

A fine try by the Huddersfield centre, sweeping through numerous half-hearted tackles from inside his own half, again drew the home side level as the game entered its second quarter. But from then until half-time it was all Beverley even though they found it difficult to score, Joe Slater, coming closest only to knock-on with the line begging. Then on the stroke of half-time Beverley did snatch the lead again with a try in the corner by Jack Houseman after the pack drove to the line from a penalty line-out.

Leading 19-14 at the break Beverley early in the second half stretched further ahead. A Smith penalty kick in his own half somehow found its way into touch, bouncing out five metres from the home line. Another drive to the line from the resulting line-out and Danny Morris touched down to take it to 24-14. A home penalty brought it back to 17-24 but Beverley were now comfortably in command.

With twenty minutes left Luke Hazell was introduced from the bench, having been unfit to start the match. The ideal running conditions were tailor-made for Hazell especially when up against fairly modest opposition. Not surprisingly his impact was almost immediate, collecting a ball on his own ten-metre line from a home drop-out and romping away past numerous defenders down the left for a spectacular try which Smith converted to make it 17-31.

Huddersfield had a spirited final quarter of an hour, pounding the Beverley line only to be kept at bay by some determined defending. A second successful penalty kick was all they could muster to show for it. Beverley might themselves have added to their score but Slater was denied a simple run-in by play being called back for an earlier knock-on.

So after several recent disappointing results, it was good to see the club back to winning form. Even allowing for the modest level of the opposition this was still a good all-around team effort. Baggs in particular had a good game, always looking dangerous with the ball in hand, and upfront Morris was again usually in the thick of things. Not the least credit for an entertaining afternoon was due to the referee who kept the game flowing splendidly with the minimum of fuss, notwithstanding the awarding of numerous penalties, eleven of them against Beverley in the second half alone.

John Nursey