Tom Leak’s match report
Fantastic win for the Hawks seals a successful double header weekend.
Following on from Saturdays game Vs Salford Red Devils, an improving Hawks looked to face new Championship rivals Doncaster RLFC in their third and penultimate Pre Season friendly.
The Hawks squad was much changed from the previous days squad, with an entirely different starting line up taking to the Field at the Keepmoat stadium.
From the off The Hawks looked strong, a good chase down from the kick off pinning Doncaster deep in their own territory, the resulting kick leaving Hunslet in great position.
Fantastic play from the visitors nearly cost them as Doncaster got their fingers to a pass but luckily knocked it on giving the Hawks another 6, just meters from the line, the Dons again knocked on giving Hunslet a third consecutive set.
Doncaster finally managed to briefly elevate the pressure thanks to a big tackle forcing a fumble of the ball, but in their haste to clear their lines handed the Hawks another set of 6, and a high kick to complete their set dropped by The Dons presented another chance to the Hawks.
The lack of final pass so prominent in the previous days game again was an issue despite the pressure the Hawks just still couldn’t find the line, but 128 minutes of play after their last score, Michael Haley pushed his way over the line to score the opening points.
The pressure of the first 6 minutes finally paying off, Danny Ansell kicked the extras to give the Hawks an early 0-6 lead.
The Hawks received the kick off and maintained the early pressure, Doncaster only leaving their own half to chase kicks down and less than 10 minutes later. Haley, again benefitting from a penalty to give them another set close to the line, scored his second of the game; an exact replica of the first under the posts. Again, Ansell kicking from almost the exact spot as before.
The Hawks looking to have learnt lessons from their first two defeats a much-improved side now leading 0-12.
Hunslet continued to attack the Dons, maintaining a strong hold over the home team keeping them firmly in their own half, with Doncaster managing only flutters of progress.
Doncaster’s managed their first real attack following a missed tackle on the 6th, the Dons taking advantage of a collapsing Hunslet line to skirt the ball down the wing, Richie Barnett sprinting across the field to stop a sure try for the home side.
Hunslet spurred on by the fantastic defence by Barnett took the ball back down the field unluckily though Mvududu couldn’t make the most of the move spilling a pass with open field between him and the goal.
Mufaro didn’t have to wait long to redeem himself though; in the 38th minute, he broke through the Dons line feeding an onrushing Jimmy Watson to score Hunslet’s third of the game. Under the posts yet again. In a spot of déjà vu, Ansell kicked an identical conversion to his previous two.
With less than a minute left in the half, Doncaster had their first sustained pressure, the Hawks minds leaving for half time before the hooter had even gone, the Dons charged at the stunned Hawks who prevented a try on mere instinct.
With the hooter sounding the Hawks left the field with a healthy 0-18 lead although with Doncaster becoming more involved in the game, the challenge to prevent another collapse became the main focus for the visitors.
Doncaster came out firing for the second half chasing down the kick off and forcing an early turnover, and possession deep in Hunslet territory, the Hawks quickly snapped back into the game and fought back the attack of the rejuvenated Dons.
Doncaster not only looked stronger in attack in the early moments of the second half but they looked much stronger in defence, the Hawks staying firmly in their own half for the first time in the game, but an excellent kick from the Hawks pinned the Dons back just meters from their own line
Poor decision making in the haste of trying to make up for lost yards by Doncaster soon cost them as they were forced to kick only meters from where they fielded the ball.
The Hawks defused the high bomb with ease stealing all the momentum back from the Dons heading deeper into the opposition territory. Another dropped kick close to the line opened the door for another Hawks score. Richie Barnett capitalising on the mistake to make the score 0-22.
Ansell again in front of the posts converted extras to make the lead now 24 points.
Despite their mistake, Doncaster were still fighting back into the game; defensive lessons learnt in the previous games becoming a critical factor in the Hawks keeping the visitors score at zero.
The Dons, who were now pressing to get back into the game, looked to take the front foot once again following the damaging mistake, repeat sets taking them deep into the Hunslet half the Hawks fantastic last ditch defence leading to a 20 meter restart. The quick restart catching out Doncaster, only to be pulled back for a forward pass in the build up.
Hunslet’s defence again step up and counter the pressure from the Dons, now seemingly desperate to score, the Hawks managed to withstand the oncoming home side forcing a turnover.
Danny Grimshaw’s hard work throughout the game finally paid off in the 55th minute as he broke through the Doncaster defence finding Jimmy Watson again at full speed to score his second of the game, Ansell again steps up for the extra’s this time hammering it off the inside of the post to take the score to 0-30
Doncaster’s early work in the half seemingly all but dissipated, the Hawks now looking to sit back and play the game out, a poor pass following a kick provide Doncaster an open window back into the game briefly. Making the best of the error was Jack Walton; scrambling in to score the home sides first points, the kick converted by Sanderson. The score now 6-30.
The home fans and the home side seemed to wake up with the first points, but haste yet again took the momentum from them, the Dons became more frustrated and Brett Walker a home crowd fan favourite took a disliking to Hunslet’s challenge and pulled out the Handbags.
Walker walked for his involvement in the fracas but this seemed to spur the Dons on, the missing player somehow creating more space, the Hawks defence on point as it had been all day managed to fight back the attack turning over the ball deep in Hunslet’s half.
Hunslet’s forwards again took the ball back to midfield, where Andy Kain found a gap before being clattered as he offloaded to McKay who finished a superb bit of play to take the score. Ansell kicking the extras to 6-36, with only 8 minutes remaining.
Hunslet looked to restart the match with a big kick into the Dons end but a poor chase allowed the home side back to midfield where the Hawks dug deep to see out the remaining time.
A second consolation for the Dons with less than a minute left, this time scored by Dave Scott, Sanderson trying to run down the clock took his time with the kick allowing only the kick-off before the hooter sounded to end the game.
Mufaro Mvududu somehow managed to grab the ball from the kick off and run in for another try. Ansell making the kick, the Final score 12-46.
An impressive team performance by the Hawks, made ever more encouraging by the lessons learned in the previous games, actually contributing in the win.
The Hawks now have a break before traveling to Rochdale for their final pre season game.
Watson, Barnett, Cook, Mvududu, Finnigan, Kain, Ansell, Haley, Lee, Houston, Lyons, Casey, McKay. Subs: Grimshaw, Cosgrove, Agoro, Reed, Broughton, Brennan, Akedaire, Darby, Backhouse, Matin, Conway
Scott, Doherty, Cowling, Waterman, Sanderson, Cooke, Kittrick, Waller, Kesik, Robinson, Kelly, Snitch, Emmett. Subs: Carbutt, Welham, Leaf, Wilson, Walton, Vincent