Today’s game was sure to be a big one! As the Hunslet Warriors and the Hunslet Old Boys joined forces to create amateur super team the Hunslet All Stars, who were to battle it out against the home side, Hunslet Hawks for the prize of the Albert Goldthorpe Shield.
The first half was more a fight for territory than putting points on the board. Solid defence and exciting attack made the challenge of getting across the opposition line that bit more difficult. As aggression flowed, both teams tested the tolerance of the referee, with high tackles and ripped balls allowing the opposition yard after yard. Although it was Hawks youngster Josh Nathaniel who took advantage of a penalty, a perfect pass from Luke Helliwell was all he needed to score under the sticks making an easy conversion for Aaron Dobek . The score was 6-0. The first half remained much a game of kick and chase both sides successfully completing sets with the try line still out of sight. The few occasions the All Stars got close, an organised Hawks defence managed to stand up to the challenge and keep them at bay. This was consistent until the hooter sounded, both teams leaving the field happy they had played a clean and successful 40 minutes.
It was relieving to see that the spirit had not been lost during the break and the second half was going to be as entertaining as the first. Both sides showing some weaknesses but backing it up with huge amounts of enthusiasm. Barry Eaton’s set up were the first to create anything, an accurate ball from hooker Joe McLocklan and a waiting Brickwood was more than happy to add the try. A few minutes later and the Hawks were back, the All Stars looked to be in danger when Dobek spotted the perfect opportunity to put through the grubber gracefully grounded by skipper David March. Try converted which upped the score to 16-0.
Unfortunately for the All Stars, Hunslet did not stop there; hungry for more points a confident Luke Helliwell received a ball from the kick, danced his way through and the Hawks slid over the line once again. For the next 10 minutes both teams came up with some very aesthetically pleasing rugby, barely a mistake being made and the addition of some inventive passes made for a very enjoyable game. The Hawks forwards set up the next try working tirelessly to break down the opposition line. A ball was slipped to Stuart Kain who dodged a defender and dived over the line for his first of the afternoon. This was followed closely by David March for his second, a true reflection of the brilliant effort he displayed. Something clicked in the All Star force and a lapse of concentration was costly for the Hawks. Gary McLelland pounced on a loose ball and darted to the try line successfully scoring under the sticks. The fans cheered as McLelland converted his own, a deserved try in the eyes of everyone watching. The scoreboard stood at 34-6 with 8 minutes remaining. Danny Ratcliffe’s quiet but controlled game paid off on 39 minutes. As the Hawks inched their way forward Ratcliffe called for it on the last, sped in and out and eventually over the line to ground it in the corner. As Dobek just missed the final conversion the whistle blew for the finish at 38-6.
A great day’s rugby was crowned with the presentation of man of the match awards for both sides. Hunslet legend Geoff Gunney chose David March for the Hawks and Hunslet Parkside legend Colin Cooper’s pick for the All Stars was Caldon Bravo, both choices being roundly appreciated by the supporters of both teams. The presentation of the Albert Goldthorpe Shield was made by Stephen McGrail, the great grandson of the great man himself, to the Hunslet Hawks captain David March.
Commenting afterwards, Hawks Head Coach Barry Eaton said “This game will hopefully provide the springboard for the Community of South Leeds to benefit as a community and in particular player pathway in Rugby league as we hope to increase participants in the game at Junior level over the next few years so all junior clubs have teams to represent every age group which will enhance the Player pathway and create an even stronger amateur club environment, which is already one of the finest in the Country but will also ensure that the strong amateur clubs in South Leeds will continue to develop and have successful Junior and open age teams for many years to come as well as hopefully producing Local Players to play for this historic club Hunslet Hawks.”
Steve Gill, the co-Manager of the All Stars, said “ The whole concept of the day and the game was great for the Rugby League Community of South Leeds and very encouraging and will hopefully grow as we make it an annual event”.
Hopefully today’s game will be the first of many to be played between these South Leeds clubs.
See you at Doncaster next week