In his programme notes Paul March asked for his team to play with confidence and try erase the memories of the Northern Rail Cup quarter final defeat against Featherstone.
On that occasion theRovers scored 3 in the first 15 minutes and unfortunately this was identical to today’s opening. The first three tries on the board coming from Saxton, Dale and Hepworth. Featherstone had obviously targeted Ritchie Barnett with the high ball in the swirling wind which was around the South Leeds today but Ritchie caught every ball cleanly and the high ball was barely used for the rest of the game. The Rovers blitz continued with them crossing the Hunslet line another three times; it had been a tale of missed tackles and questionable decisions by the officials. These further Featherstone tries had come from Divorty, Hemmingway and Chappel, to give Rovers a 32-0 lead at half time. Marchy and Lordy would for sure have had something to say to the lads.
Things were not looking good when the Hawks knocked on from the kick off giving Featherstone the ball and, after a quick play and two short passes, Finn crossed the line and successfully converted his own try to make the score 38-0. From this point the Hunslet side started to pull together and play the excellent football we know they are capable of. Within 4 minutes they had forced their way to within 10 meters of the Rovers line from where a delightful grubber from David March saw Stuart Kain score under the sticks. A conversion from Elliot Kear meant the score board now lay at 38-6. The Hawks forwards, who had worked tirelessly throughout the first half, were now making headway and forcing the Featherstone defence into some bruising tackles. Andy Yates, Neil Lowe and Adam Sullivan were running themselves into the ground and the backs were showing some of the moves we had seen in recent games. The amount of tackling Hunslet had done in the first half and the effort shown throughout the second had obviously taken its toll when the defence allowed Hepworth to slip through and score under the sticks, the conversion added the Rovers had another 6 on the score board. Even though the Hawks looked to be dead and buried they were to dominate the next 30 minutes of play. Only an ankle tap could stop Ritchie Barnett from powering his way to the Featherstone line with a run that had started on his own 30 metre. From the resulting play the ball James Houston fed Danny Ratcliffe, who had had a brilliant personal game, and the half back scored a well deserved try. Elliot added the two and the score was 42-12.
Hunslet were now playing safe and clever rugby and came close to scoring a couple of times. Another break this time from Danny Grimshaw looked to be a certain try but Rovers fresher legs were quicker and Grimshaw was hauled to the ground. The Hawks were now starting to throw the ball about a bit and unfortunately an attempted long ball was intercepted by Andy Kain who sprinted and crossed the line for the final time in the game. A 48-12 score line did not do the Hawks justice. Paul March will obviously have some harsh words to say to the players but they must also be congratulated on their second half display when they looked the better of the two sides.
After the game March said, “The wind in the first half proved very difficult to deal with but I was pleased with the way we competed in the second. We will look at the things we can improve and work on them during the week before our encounter with Salford next week.”
Next week Hunslet can not afford to give the Super League opponents Salford City Reds a first half advantage like they gave the Rovers, as they try to get a place in the draw for the 5th round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup.
See you at the South Leeds Stadium for a 3pm kick off on Sunday