Its Lazenby Cup time again! A game fans, players and coaching staff alike looked forward to, and with new sponsors in the Leeds Brewery, the Hunslet fans were hoping that Leeds Best would not be good enough although, as it turned out, their hopes that the home team’s efforts would make Leeds Pale into insignificance, proved unfounded.
The Hawks were always going to be the underdogs, but seemed eager to prove otherwise. The squad were certainly going to have to step up to the challenge today especially against these super league stars. As the game got under way the Hawks were displaying an instant improvement on last week with continuous good sets, rewarded with much needed territory. For the first 20 minutes the game looked too close to call. But when popular Rhino’s winger Ben Jones Bishop latched on to a loose ball it was almost inevitable that he would be the one to put the first points on the board giving a 6-0 lead to Leeds. Shortly after, the crowd thought it was the home side that were about to score when Joe McLocklan made a clean break from his own half. Unfortunately his attempted scoring pass to Danny Ratcliffe backfired and instead fell into the preying hands of Sean Casey, who seemed more than happy to slide over for Leeds’ second.
The wind was blowing down at The South Leeds Stadium which lead to many handling errors, despite this something that certainly impressed today was defence, courageous and committed tackles meant that the Hawks were halting the Rhinos, easing the pressure on themselves and allowing them to play the inventive rugby they are best at. As the sound of the hooter neared Luke Helliwell took a risk on the last tackle, placing through a sharp grubber which an alert Josh Nathaniel sprinted down the left wing and weaved through defenders immaculately grounding the ball to reward his side with a deserved try. Aaron Dobek booted the ball through the sticks and both sides left the field with the new score board showing 6-10, and feeling satisfied they had played 40 minutes of exciting rugby.
Still enthusiastic about the first half, the last leg of the game was sure to keep everyone entertained. The Rhinos had obviously come out full of determination and immediately took advantage of an unsuspecting Hawks defence as Daniel Smith flew over the line with ease. Not exactly the start the Hawks had been hoping for. Although our reliable forwards had been formidable for the duration and when it came to the turn of goliath Dave Tootill, he managed to power his way through knocking over anyone in his path ensuring he scored directly under the posts. Dobek again adding his two the score line seemed comfortable at 16-12. The game was reversed again and the Rhinos managed to score once more and as Sean Casey kicked his final conversion it was all to play for. Some questionable passes and debatable decisions were not enough to put the Hawks off their game. Experienced Joe Mc made the perfect decision on 60 minutes as he sent the ball flying into the right hand corner, youngster Josh Nathaniel seized the opportunity for try number two and things were looking optimistic.
From here try attempts were becoming regular but the Rhino’s defence including an impressive Brad Singleton managed to keep them at bay.
Thoughts of winning the Lazenby cup must have been in the Hawks minds as 8 minutes from the finish ,Dennis Tuffour (who had been stand out all game) timed his attack perfectly fooling the wingers and grounding the ball just in time. The conversion pushed narrowly wide meant the Hawks had just missed out on the win. The score at the end of a great Lazenby cup match was a narrow 22-20 defeat for the Hawks, but all in all it had been an impressive and much improved performance by Barry Eaton’s boys, with several players putting in some stalwart displays and an all round excellent team effort. If the lads can keep up this level of enthusiasm we all have something to look forward to during the forthcoming season.
See you next week for the visit of Super League new Boys Widnes Vikings.