The Hawks faced the Rovers this wintery New Years Day for the Annual Gareth Swift memorial trophy friendly at the BigFellas Stadium. An almost full strength side for Hunslet, missing only David March, James Coyle, John Oakes & George Clarke as the two teams found themselves faced with atrocious playing conditions. The visitors suffered a 26-0 defeat against a tough Featherstone side but with 8 players making debut, it was a great opportunity to see glimpses of quality and plenty of potential within the squad ahead of the 2014 season.
The Rovers made full use of the wet and muddy surface, using constant low kicks they managed to cruise over the line twice in the first quarter, Moore and Spears both with their names on the scoreboard. Moore added the conversions giving the hosts a 12-0 lead. The visitor’s line defence remained solid for the duration of the game it was the high kicks that were causing the problems, noted by the Rovers as fullback Kain had to leave the field with a hamstring tear. Featherstone increased the advantage when Worthington burrowed across in the corner but it the Hawks were making things difficult for themselves. Ill discipline and some bad decisions with ball in hand were the only thing keeping the Hawks from rattling the Rovers. The Hawks upped their intensity for the final minutes, Canterbury and Broughton both stood out in the attack this afternoon some strong carries from Brooke in particular and some quick thinking at dummy half from Casey, the Hawks worked hard to make themselves appear more dangerous. Ansell’s 40-20 boosted their confidence and the side were well on their way to denting the Rovers line. The Hawks rhythm was interrupted when Rovers Jack Bussey collided with Lee Brickwood and forced the knock on just metres away. Eaton’s side tightened their defence and despite early dominance from the home side it took an error in the dying seconds of the half for Sharpe to plant the ball across the whitewash 20-0 at the break.
A disappointing start as the Rovers picked up where they left off snatching another easy try. The Hawks responded positively this time, with 30 minutes left they were capable of producing an exciting ending. The boys stole some momentum from their opponents and once again played some great attacking rugby, Lyons and Houston carried the team with their driving force but it was Mapals who was almost rewarded with the try, narrowly missing out as the ball ran dead. Jimmy Watson was sent to the sin bin for dissent putting the visitors under further pressure.
The home side flipped the game on its head for the final 10 minutes; applying huge pressure they left the Hawks struggling to deny them the points. Both Davies and Mapals forced to make try saving tackles in the left hand corner bundling the Rovers winger safely out of play. Another lucky escape moments after when Featherstone winger Jamel Chisholm was just yards from the line when he fumbled the ball relieving a tired Hunslet side. It was the Hawks fans who were out of their seats next as it looked like Hunslet would get the try they had worked all half for, the ball was thrown from one side to the other before landing in the hands of debutant Jamaine Akaidere the former Dewsbury winger was fighting to get across the line but the ball came loose in the tackle. The hooter blew on the next set ending an exhausting game for both sides and with a score of 26-0 to the Rovers.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Sharp, Worthington, Cording, Chisholm, Bussey, Moore, Crossley, Flanagan, Hirst, Lockwood, Spears, James. Subs (all used): Ellis, Nicholson, Dale, Walmsley, Roche, Saxton, Bennion, Sunley, Ormondroyd.
Hunslet Hawks: Kain, Mapals, Watson, Maun, Akaidere, Grimshaw, Ansell, Reed, Canterbury, Stenchion, Broughton, Lyons, Mackay. Subs (all used): Brickwood, Houston, Woods, Davies, Tebb, Haley. T Coyle, Clough.