Ionians lose title momentum as Huddersfield go in at the double

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HULL Ionians’ grip on the title race slipped as they were beaten 38-5 by hosts Sedgley Park.

The Manchester side produced a determined and intelligent performance to secure a well-deserved victory, leaving Ionians in second behind leaders Ampthill but with a game in hand.

The hosts got off to a great start when captain Juan Crous took a quick tap penalty to race in, Matt Riley converting. That scoreline stood until half-time and then a lethargic Ionians conceded a second try when Sedgley winger Jamie Harrison finished off a 60-yard move down the sideline.

Ionians were penalised for killing the ball and were down to 14 men, and Sedgley took full advantage. Full-back Rob Holloway finished off their third try, and No 8 Matt Lamprey added another following a strong drive by the scrum from 15 yards out, Riley converting.

Another quick-tap penalty saw Sedgley break clear and replacement Ben Black claimed their fifth try, Steve Collins converting as he did when Matt Rileycrossed.

Ionians pulled back a consolation try through Steve Slingsby late in the game.

After being well held for the first quarter, Huddersfield ran in four converted tries to win 31-15 and complete the season’s double over Hull.

Huddersfield opened with a penalty from Joel Hinchliffe after five minutes, but Hull equalised four minutes later when fly-half Greg Lound landed a penalty.

The only further score of the first half came after 21 minutes when Huddersfield’s prop Jim Purcell crashed over for a try which Hinchliffe converted.

Tries from No 8 Nick Sharpe and centre Elliot Hodgson, both converted by Hinchliffe, put the visitors firmly in control.

Hull were awarded a penalty try which Lound converted, but on 78 minutes full-back Tom Owen touched down for Huddersfield, Hinchliffe again adding the points.

Then, in stoppage time, Hull No 8 Ollie Cook got the touchdown in a pushover.

A second-half revival by Stourbridge had Otley unable to add to their half-time 18-5 lead but the visitors were still left six points adrift at the end.

A 51st-minute penalty try ensured the exciting finish.

An early penalty from scrum-half Stephen Depledge was followed by the Otley backs combining to send in centre Jack Mackie and Depledge converted before adding a second penalty. A strong drive by the Stourbridge forwards got No 8 Drew Harper over but Otley struck back, winger Henry Roberts racing over in the corner.

Having conceded the penalty try, Otley were under great pressure late on but defended well.