Hunslet Hawks put up a fighting display this afternoon (17 April 2016), but eventually went out of the Challenge Cup losing 14-50 to the Salford Red Devils from the Super League.
It was always going to be a tough match and so it proved as the Red Devils ran out 14-50 winners. Hunslet made a game of it especially in the second half and will claim some sort of moral victory having scoring three tries against full time, Super League opposition.
Salford raced off to an early lead that threatened to turn into a cricket score, scoring three tries in quick succession in the first ten minutes. Hunslet hardly touched the ball as Ryan Lannon, Jake Bibby and Josh Griffin went over, O’Brien and Dobson converted one each and the score was 0-16.
The Red Devils extended their lead on 17 minutes as Griffin scored his second try of the afternoon. Although 20 points down Hunslet were now holding their own in the arm wrestle as they traded sets with Salford.
The following kick off pinned Salford back at their 10m line and following a penalty, Jack Lee went over. Danny Ansell couldn’t convert, but the Hawks had their first points of the afternoon.
Salford added two more tries as Josh Wood scored under the posts on 28 minutes and Robert Lui scored on 31 minutes. O’Brien and Dobson kicked the extras.
As the first half wound down Hunslet pressured Salford’s line and George Flanagan sold an outrageous dummy to create space and go over in the corner. Ansell missed a difficult kick, so the score at half time was 8-32.
Flanagan was in the action at the start of the second half and was unlucky to be held up over the line on the last tackle.
Salford added to their total ten minutes later as Lui scored his second try. Bibby scored his second try quickly afterwards on 53 minutes and with the conversions Salford extended their lead to 8-44.
The Red Devils then returned to the scrappy play that characterised their second half performance, turning the ball over far too easily.
On 68 minutes a kick to the corner isolated Bibby and James Duckworth was able catch the ball to score in the corner. Another difficult kick for Danny Ansell saw the ball bounce out off the upright. Ansell was successful 6 minutes later when he kicked a penalty bringing the score to 14-44.
As full time loomed Mvududu almost scored but the ball went dead off the corner stick. Salford then moved quickly up the pitch and Griffin completed his hat trick and Dobson kicked the extras for Salford to finally hit the 50 point mark.
In added time Mvududu was unlucky to have another score ruled out as he was tackled over the line and ruled not to have touched down. His spirit in fighting to the end of a match that arguably was over after ten minutes, summed up Hunslet’s spirit. It will be important to take that spirit, and not the scoreline, back into their League 1 match next week against Oxford.
“My overriding emotion is pride,” Bramald said afterwards. “You see so many of these games where lower-league teams get blown apart in the last 20 minutes or so and the scoreline then doesn’t reflect the game.
“The scoreline probably did reflect the game and the dominance Salford had, but my players had a real dig.
“They had a real go and that’s what I asked of them. I got quite emotional after the game, but pride is a good emotion to feel.
“I told them I wanted them to be able to look each other in the eye after going out there and giving everything they’ve got.
“I think they did. Players like Robert Lui will do the things he did out there against far more professional, well-drilled and better conditioned teams than ours, so I don’t feel too bad about that.
“There were some areas I think we could have been better at, but I am really proud.”
Salford, who are ninth in Super League, led 16-0 after just nine minutes and Bramald admitted his team were “caught in the headlights” early on.
But Hunslet conceded only 18 points in the second half – scoring six themselves – and the coach was delighted with how strongly they finished the game.
He said: “Their players will be ice-bathing and re-habbing in the morning when my blokes are running around building sites or driving round the country. They are going to be fitter and better conditioned than we are, so it was really pleasing we were able to come home and look the stronger team in those last sets.”
Bramald said the challenge now is to take similar form into Hawks’ league campaign.
“If we can take that kind of intent, desire and effort into our league games I don’t think we will go far wrong,” he said.
Salford coach Ian Watson said: “Hunslet did really well. I wasn’t surprised, I knew they would come at us.”
He added: “I pre-warned the team about that and the fact they had experienced dummy-halves in Jack Lee and George Flanagan.
“They were the main guys who were causing us problems around the ruck.”
Hunslet RLFC Line up
1. Jimmy Watson
2. James Duckworth
3. Ayden Faal
Sponsored by: Adrian Jinks
4. Mufaro Mvududu
5. Richie Barnett
Sponsored by: Iris Crummack from the GMB
6. Danny Thomas
7. Danny Ansell
8. Michael Haley
9. Jack Lee
10. Lewis Reed
11. Ben Crane
Sponsored by: Fletcher Smith Insurance Brokers
12. Jake Normington
13. Liam Mackay
14. George Flanagan
15. Austin Bell
16. Craig Robinson
Sponsored by: Alan Stephenson & Kenny Sykes
17. Daniel Williams
00:21 Jack Lee Try
00:39 George Flanagan Try
01:08 James Duckworth Try
01:14 Danny Ansell Goal