Today saw Hunslet’s first game back after a 3 week break. Widnes were at the South Leeds Stadium and both teams seemed up for it. The last time the two teams met the Hawks were victorious with a 10-18 win over Widnes at the Stobart stadium, and I’m sure all the players were hoping for a similar performance today. Before today’s game a minutes applause was perfectly observed by both sets of fans, players and officials to mark the sad passing of Hunslet stalwart and ever popular Ron Jinks who will be sadly missed by all that knew him.
The game got off to a steady start, and both teams were clearly up for it but the first points of the afternoon were to go to the Hawks when Adam Sullivan crashed towards the line, the fans thought he was across but it was Danny Grimshaw who had managed to grasp the ball and slid over the line. Danny Ratcliffe narrowly missed the conversion and the score was 4-0. Much like in previous games the Hawks defence was almost perfect forcing their opponents to complete every set in the middle of the field. Although the speed of Vikings Ben Kavanagh jinked through the Hunslet defenders and on 17 minutes the score was level, Steve Tyrer managed to convert this one and Widnes were two points ahead. After this both sides seemed to slip giving away numerous penalties and forcing errors, but this was only the case for ten minutes when the ball fell into the hands of Stuart Kain. It was inevitable he was going to step past the waiting Widnes defence to score a second for the Hawks. This time Ratcliffe got it spot on and the score was back in Hunslet’s favour at 10-6. A penalty on 33 minutes allowed Ratcliffe to add another two. The Hawks attacking play this half had been brilliant; strong forceful running from Helme and Oakes had got the side to within metres and it was then left for the backs to try and get the ball across the line. When David March got hold of the ball he put through an immaculate grubber for Tommy Haughey who managed to ground it just before half time. The two were not added but the Hawks could leave for the changing rooms happy with a 16-6 lead.
The Hawks fans were hoping for a replica first half performance as the sides re-entered the field. From the kick off it was Widnes who had the upper hand, they were in constant attacking positions and for seven consecutive sets the Hawks were left defending with everyone trying tirelessly to keep the Vikings from scoring. Despite brilliant efforts, on 51 minutes Steve Tyrer just managed to force himself over in the corner and pushed the score to 16-10. Only 7 minutes later, a lack of numbers of defenders on the left wing allowed Shane Grady to ground the ball, another conversion missed but the points were racking up. From this point play settled down again, both sides were completing sets but neither reaching the line successfully. The Vikings number 5 Paddy Flyn saw a crack in the Hawks line and sprinted straight through it, and for the first time in the game Widnes were in front on 20-16. The Hawks determination was clear for all to see today, the team had started working together more and on 67 minutes Danny Grimshaw fed a perfect ball to Luke Haigh which saw him cross the line. This time David March took on the kicking duties and added the two for the Hawks. It was minutes before the final hooter and much like Paul March had said in his programme notes, concentration had to be maintained until the final hooter. A questionable decision from the official and a slight slip in defence allowed Kurt Haggerty to run in the ball for the winning try with just 5 seconds remaining on the timekeeper’s watch. The conversion was not added but the Vikings had still managed to steal the win.
The Hawks should be very pleased with the performance of today. It displayed confidence in both attack and defence and the players had put in a lot of effort. Despite the scoreline the displays in the recent games have been very worthy of the win and hopefully all the skill and commitment will pay off soon.
See you next Sunday at Featherstone