Huddersfield 24 – 33 Lymm
1st Team Match Report | Saturday December 16 2023
Lymm end 2023 on a high
On Saturday, for what is traditionally pre-Christmas “derby day” in the National Leagues, Lymm once again made the trip east on the M62 to take on Yorkshire opposition – highlighting as much as anything the present preponderance of North-Eastern teams in this league. Whilst Huddersfield were sitting at the foot of the table, the Lymm contingent were fully aware that their only win to date had come at Lymm’s expense in a high scoring encounter in week 2 of the season.
Lymm’s match day squad showed two enforced changes from the previous week with Sean Callender, who was off on his travels, and Rhys Lilly, who failed a late fitness test, being replaced by veterans Jordan Widdrington and Jake Ashall.
On a fine, dry afternoon ‘Field kicked-off. 2 minutes in and Lymm were awarded a penalty on their own 10m line, with Shard, whose kicking off the tee and out of hand was close to faultless all match, finding touch just inside their opponents 22. The line-out was secured and the ball was sent through hands towards the right flank where Paddy Jennings and Nathan Beesley made good ground whilst keeping the ball in play. The ball was then recycled back infield where captain James Yates burst through Huddersfield’s midfield defence to score under the posts, giving Tom Shard an easy conversion. 0-7 and only 4 minutes on the clock.
It had been felt prior to the match that ‘Field’s most potent attacking weapon would come from their forwards who had been primarily responsible for their earlier victory at Crouchley Lane. It didn’t take long for those concerns to resurface. The first scrum on halfway ended badly for Lymm as Huddersfield won a penalty. A kick to the corner and then began a sequence of three 5m attacking lineouts. Lymm defended admirably to repel the mauls and close quarter surges by the Yorkshiremen, and then when it seemed Huddersfield were running out of ideas, they put width on the ball and a fine cut-out pass to left wing Max Horsfall found the space that had hitherto been absent allowing him to sprint in largely unopposed to score in the corner. The difficult conversion was missed. 5-7 after 11 minutes.
6 minutes later and Huddersfield had their noses in front with an unconverted try by Number 8, William Hammond, scoring in the same corner as he finished off another salvo from the ‘Field forwards that had its genesis in a rolling maul. Lymm really needed to cut out the penalties which had been giving Huddersfield the opportunity to set up these potent attacking platforms. 10-7 with 17 minutes having passed.
On 25 minutes Huddersfield’s second row Luke Pearson was shown a yellow card for illegally preventing Cal Morris’ quick tap penalty. Lymm immediately capitalised on their numerical advantage setting up their own rolling maul, a platform from which James Pitcher burrowed his way over. Shard again added the extras. 5 minutes later and Shard added to his tally with a simple penalty. 10-17 after 31 minutes.
Back came Huddersfield. Another Lymm infringement; kick to the corner; catch and drive; rolling maul; and hooker Ethan Myers had added to the Yorkshiremen’s try tally, converted by scrum-half Simon Wilson. Back to parity and so it remained when the half-time whistle sounded.
Half Time: Huddersfield 17 – 17 Lymm
Through the first period of the second half Lymm showed that they were intent on playing a more controlled game, retaining possession for longer periods and cutting down the number of infringements. In fact, it was Huddersfield who were now on the wrong side of the referee’s whistle. Penalty awards kept Lymm camped in Huddersfield territory and when ‘Field’s flanker Lewis Quinn was carded for foul play, Shard took the opportunity to register a further three points – an act he repeated a few minutes later to build a 6-point cushion. 17-23 on 52 minutes.
Another penalty and Huddersfield were able to once again set up camp in Lymm’s 22 – a lineout, a maul some forward drives towards the posts – then Hammond found a crack in the Lymm defence back towards the left touchline and was able to stretch out to dot the ball on the whitewash for ‘Field’s bonus point try. With Wilson again adding the extras, Huddersfield were back in front. 24-23 but with 25 minutes still to go.
Lymm continued to play considered, “percentage” rugby and were retaining possession well allowing them to build pressure on their opponents. When Lymm’s next, and ultimately match winning, score came it was an absolute belter!
It actually started with a period of Huddersfield possession on Lymm’s 22. As they were moving the ball towards their right wing, a pass was intercepted by Morris who, despite being quickly halted, found support in Jennings and Ashall who took the ball into contact whilst making sure that possession was well secured. The recycled ball was then moved from Lymm’s left to right across the 22 to Shard onto Beesley and then Ste Pilkington. The Lymm centre, still in his own 22, spotting a mismatch in the Huddersfield defensive line, put on the afterburners, and arced round the desperate defenders, then finding only grass and one defender between him and the try line. With speedsters Beesley and Andy Williams either side, the spectators were trying to guess to which of these two men Pilkington would gift the run-in try. The answer was neither, as he expertly dummied the confused last defender to run in from 40m. Shard easily added the extras. Just over 10 minutes left and Lymm were now again in the lead 24-30.
This try also seemed to take the wind out of the Yorkshiremen’s sails. With 3 minutes left Shard added another penalty to his tally extending Lymm’s lead to more than one score. But otherwise – and in sharp contrast to most of Lymm’s matches this season! – the final 10 minutes were largely uneventful.
Full Time: Huddersfield 24 – 33 Lymm
Director of Rugby Adam Fletcher, commented:
“I thought the boys were excellent. The underfoot conditions made it difficult to play but we still managed to move the ball and create opportunities. Cal and Tom regularly put us in good positions and the forwards defended the maul superbly.”
“We’re looking forward to the break but can’t wait until the league season restarts in the New Year.”
Squad: Ralph McEachran (8); James Pitcher* (56); Matty Hand* (95); Ben Thompson (20); James Yates* (c) (110); Joe Johnson* (12); Harry Martin (43); Josh Hadland* (30); Callum Morris (27); Tom Shard* (124); Paddy Jennings* (40); Ste Pilkington* (55); James Kimber* (99); Nathan Beesley* (58); Jack Reynolds (13). Bench – Rob Makin* (52); Jordan Widdrington* (234); Gav Woods (120); Jake Ashall* (136); Andy Williams* (13).
( ) = number of Lymm First XV League appearances
* Former Lymm Academy/M&J player
So, the curtain comes down on what has been an outstanding 2023 for Lymm. Promotion to the highest level we have ever played at and 14 matches in, we are sitting in 8th place in this 14-team league – all very satisfying. Thanks so much to the hard work and dedication of our playing squad and coaching team. We the spectators thank you so much for the entertainment and enjoyment you have dished out in large, generous helpings this year. We know there will be no complacency as there is still a big job to be done – but so far, it’s been a blast!
It is worth reflecting though that rugby union’s Premiership/Championship/National League set up is the equivalent of football’s Premiership/Championship/League One/League 2 structure. So, for a village such as Lymm to be competing at this level is an incredible achievement – not least when you consider that we are matched against teams from cities such as Sheffield, Hull, Leeds and Preston and large conurbations such as Rotherham, Billingham and Huddersfield.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Match Report: Andy Leach
Watch Ste Pilkingtons fine try: