The fourth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup saw Hunslet take on Super League side Salford City Reds. Any hopes that Salford would bring less than a full strength team were dashed when the sides were announced prior to the game.
For the first 15 minutes both teams were equally matched; Hunslet’s defence was back on top form and the attack was strong. Although a penalty saw the ball in the Salford hands and with some good forward work Luke Adamson crossed the line for the first try of the afternoon. Daniel Holdsworth converted and put the score to 6-0. This was closely followed on 18 minutes when a missed tackle lead to Palea’aesina storming across the Hawks line again converted the score board stood at 12-0. The game was not completely one sided though with Waine Pryce and Joe Helme making some telling drives. A rearranged backline saw Paul March playing scrum half, Stuart Kain on the wing and Danny Ratcliffe slotting in at full back and they were all playing some neat football against their super league opponents. But the Salford Reds showed there quality as they crossed the Hawks line twice in 5 minutes with Adam Neal on 26 minutes and Lee Jewitt on 33, one converted one not the score was now 22-0. The fierce Hunslet side were not going down without a fight. The Hawks falling short a couple of times with try attempts from Haughey and Lowe as well as Paul March impressing with some inventive kicks on the last. Hunslet finally got some points on the board when a penalty was awarded as the half time hooter sounded, the Hawks decided to kick the penalty rather than run the ball. Danny Ratcliffe, who had taken back kicking duties from Elliot Kear, who had performed with distinction across the city the previous day, made no mistake and ensured that Hunslet would not be nilled.
A three try blitz by the City Reds in the first ten minutes of the second half ended any realistic chance of Hunslet getting back into the game. Although it seemed like Salford were running tries at will during the second half, the Hawks never stopped trying. This was evident when during a set the Hawks defence held up two Salford drives and Stuart Kain was also stopped short himself. After some brilliant ball play Tommy Haughey also came close to scoring when he just failed to ground the ball due to the attention of 3 Reds defenders. Despite the fact Salford had crossed the line a total of 8 times in the second half leaving the final score at 68-2, the Hawks had nothing to be ashamed of as they had put up a strong performance against a good side. A fact appreciated by the Salford travelling support who clapped the Hawks lads off the pitch.
As this years cup adventure comes to an end, Hunslet need to re-group and not dwell on today’s game as they travel to Toulouse next Saturday with hopes of consolidating their championship position and a return to winning ways.
Good luck to the Boys and Bon Voyage to the Hawks travelling support