Hunslet travelled to Mount Pleasant to take on a Batley side that gained a last gasp victory at the South Leeds Stadium 6 weeks ago in the Northern Rail Cup. Since that game Hunslet have made steady but impressive progress, culminating in last weeks superb performance at Widnes. For the first quarter of this game there was nothing between the two sides but on 24 minutes Batley second rower Alex Bretherton latched onto an inside ball to power over the Hawks line and with the conversion pushed narrowly wide the Hawks were 4-0 down. Following this score Hunslet’s tackling which has been amazing this season let them down when a series of missed tackles let Craig Porter through and with the extras added Hunslet were 10-0 down. With the Bulldogs now buoyant Hunslet hung on until the break and for the first time in six games the Hawks were behind at half time.
Early in the second half Ritchie Barnett eased the pressure on the Hawks as he finished off a quick pass to cross the try line and gained a few yards in the in goal area to give Danny Ratcliffe an easier conversion, which he duly put away. At 10-6 down the Hunslet fans thought they were back in the game but this was only a temporary reprieve as the Bulldogs battered the Hunslet line until on 58 minutes the impressive Jonny Campbell collected a high ball and crossed the line with ease while the Hunslet players were left wondering how he had collected the ball in the first place. Paul Handforth added the two giving Batley a 16-6 lead. Handforth then put on a one man show with some brilliant angled running, passing and generally making a nuisance of himself scoring one try and setting up another two, as well as adding two conversions in a mesmorising ten minute spell that ended the game as a contest. David March added a consolatation try for the Hawks on 72 minutes latching onto a pop up ball and spinning past two defenders to ground the ball under the sticks. Danny Ratcliffe finished off Hunslets scoring for the day by adding the conversion. but unfortunately this was not the end of Batley, who capitalised on what had been a terrible half for the Hawk’s defence when Adam Robinson crossed the line for Batley’s fifth try of the half. Again Paul Handforth converted to give Batley a deserved victory with a final score of 38-12.
Hunslet were never really in the game but after last weeks efforts at Widnes you could maybe forgive one or two of the players having an off day. No doubt Paul March will have a word or two to say to the players to lift their spirits before Thursday’s televised game against Dewsbury.
Hopefully next week’s game will bring a more confident display from the lads: the supporters are right behind you.
See you at The South Leeds Stadium