It was last gasp heartbreak for Hunslet as Leeds retained the Leeds Brewery Lazenby Cup at South Leeds Stadium last night (8 January 2016).
Despite the defeat the performance bodes well for this seasons League One campaign, which does not kick off until March. The Hawks were arguably the strongest side in a second half which for the most part saw the sides locked at 18-18.
A crowd of 1,196 witnessed the visit of treble winners Leeds Rhinos who included three members of their Grand Final winning team, but it was the Hawks who hit the front first with scrum half Danny Ansell crossing after just two minutes. Rhinos grand final winner Mitch Garbutt replied on 16 minutes, before Richie Barnett, buoyed by his new one year contract, retained the lead for the Hawks on 24 minutes. The lead did not last long though as the tide began to turn in the Rhinos’ favour with Josh Walters crashing over and then Ashton Golding skillfully side stepping his way through the Hawks defence on 31 minutes.
The Hawks came out in the second half in positive fashion and on 47 minutes drew level with Mufaro Mvududu crossing after a great chip kick from loose forward Liam Mackay. The strong showing from the home side continued with hooker George Flanagan being held up over the line 6 minutes from time. But as the game drew to a close Rhinos half back Jordan Lilley – a stand out performer on the night – neatly kicked to the corner with winger Charlie Brown just managing to catch the ball and touchdown before crashing into the corner flag.
The word from the press area was that this was one of the best Lazenby Cup clashes of recent years and that Hunslet had acquitted themselves well. There had been some good individual performances from the Hawks players, most notably the creative triumvirate of Simon Brown, Danny Ansell and George Flanagan, whose fitness and combinations will surely be vital to Hunslet’s success in 2016.