Hunslet headed into the last quarter of this season with a string of good performances behind them but everyone knew that today points were of the essence. A long trip to Barrow for an evening kick off was always going to be a difficult proposition but with the coaches from both sides believing they could steal the win an exciting game was a likely prospect.
As the game got going Hunslet looked to be straight into the swing of it, completing sets and showing some improved defence, Grimshaw even managed to break the Barrow line a few times being caught only metres away. Things were looking good until Chris Larkin got hold of the ball a forceful run and a few missed tackles the Raiders had managed to grasp the first points of the game, Jamie Rooney added the two to put the score to 6-0. Poor ball handling, knock on’s and forward passes from the Hawks were allowing most of the possession to be played in the Barrow favour. The players took advantage of this and 10 minutes later lazy defence allowed Micheal Knowles to slip through and ground the ball, despite this try being unconverted, Hunslet really needed to pull something out of the bag. The end of the first half nearing and the game was back on strong attacking play and unbreakable defence allowed the Hawks to regain some control. Joe Helme and Adam Sullivan powered through into Raiders territory and then it was up to the backs to try and gain some points, Joe McLocklan dummied his way past the outside defenders and a perfect late ball allowed David Clayton to score in the corner first points of the game for the Hawks followed by 2 more from Jack Latus, the score line did not look bad for the fans at 10-6. Both sides played out the first half and I’m sure Hunslet were thinking of ways they could get in front and take the win today.
Coming back out for the second half and the Hawks travelling support were feeling optimistic and sure they could pull out the win. Although a knock on from the kick off was a bad way to start , barely 5 minutes in and the Raiders winger Jack Hughes found himself over the line, Jamie Rooney slotted the ball between the posts and another 6 were added to the score board. This did not seem to faze a confident looking Hawks side who bounced straight back this time David March slipping through a neat grubber eagerly picked up and grounded by David Clayton, Jack Latus again converting and Hunslet were catching up. The forwards had really worked hard this game Neil Lowe and Andy Yates were putting the Barrow defenders under some real pressure, which showed when Danny Grimshaw latched onto the ball his step and speed made it near to impossible for the Raiders to get hold of him and on 52 minutes crossed the line conversion added the Hawks were in front for the first time. It was important to maintain the lead the Hunslet’s defence had to be on top form and that it was. 3 men involved in each tackle was the key to stopping Barrow safely in the centre of the field allowing them no were near the try line. The one occasion the Barrow side forced themselves towards the line the Hawks thought they had managed to push Jack Hughes into touch despite the corner flag moving the officials decided to award the try which put the Raiders back in front. Barrow’s lead did not dampen the spirits of the Hawks who were displaying an excellent effort today. Stuart Kain managing to stop quick barrow players attempting breaks, Tommy Haughey falling just short of the line numerous times and David March’s kicking game was causing the Raiders some problems. The next set saw Marchy put up a beautiful cross field kick which fell straight into the hands of unopposed Rob Kelly who grounded the ball just 13 minutes from the end a try which looked like it could be the game breaker. Jack Latus completed his point scoring of the day and added the two. The score 24-20 to the Hawks , the message was clear as in previous weeks commitment and concentration had to be top until the final hooter. A surprise drop kick from Joe McLocklan made the score a comfortable 25-20. But the inevitable happened, one minute left to go and Jamie Thackary weaved his way across and slid under the sticks . The Hawks fans and players had all fingers crossed that the conversion would be missed but directly under the posts Jamie Rooney converted and the game finished at 25-26.
Although you could see the disappointment, there was nothing to be disheartened about the Hunslet side had put up a flawless second half display and I’m sure coaches Paul March and Gary Lord will have nothing but praise for them as they headed home. Both sets of fans agreed it was Hunslet who deserved the victory today. Let’s hope that next week we can see a similar performance turn into a win when the Hawks take on Northern Rail Champions Leigh Centurions at the South Leeds Stadium.
See you next week