Hunslet coach Alan Kilshaw’s head must still be spinning returning to his former club Rochdale yesterday (22 August 2021) after seeing his charges almost snatch defeat from the jaws of victory before Jy-mel Coleman converted a difficult penalty on the hooter to end the game all square.
It felt like a loss for both clubs, but the winners were the fans who witnessed an exciting spectacle played at a breakneck pace.
Rochdale should have taken the lead as early as the 2nd minute when they bombed a good chance, bizarrely the Hunslet defender clearing up mistook the referee for a player and threw the ball towards his own line almost costing his side an unusual try.
Hunslet did take the lead though on the 6th minute when Coleman and Halafihi combined well to send in form forward Harry Kidd over. 0-6
Rochdale had some good pressure early on, but Hunslet’s defence was up to it, and it wasn’t until the 23rd minute when old head Sean Penkywicz bobbed his way over off the back of two Rochdale penalties. 6-6
The game by now was reduced to 12 v 12 as Jones-Bishop and Fairclough were in the sin-bin for fighting, but Hunslet regained the advantage when straight from the restart Harry Kidd put a massive hit in and dislodged the ball. Moments later Coleman sent Joe McClean over and Hunslet led 6-10.
Next in the sin-bin was Vila Halafihi for a high tackle that the Hunslet bench thought was very harsh, Rochdale took advantage of the man over and Josh Jordan-Roberts chalked up a try to make it 10-10 on the half hour mark.
Hunslet nudged themselves in front from a Jy-mel Coleman penalty coming from a ‘Dale illegal tackle, and Man of the Match Coleman himself wrestled his way over under the posts to give Hunslet a 10-18 lead heading into added time.
It wasn’t to be though as rapid passing to the right wing sent Sean Ainscough over in the corner, and with the conversion the score was tight at the break at 16-18.
Rochdale coach Matt Calland spurred on his troops during the break and Hornets came out a more determined team in the second period. Attack after attack was repelled by good Hunslet defence and despite two forced drop-outs the Parksiders line stayed intact.
With Rochdale back defending Jy-mel Coleman grabbed his second try of the day on the 58th minute as he dummied and stretched over, converting to give the visitors a 16-24 lead.
Now it looked to be Hunslet on the charge and after a Rochdale defender made a mistake trying to field a Brambani kick good quick passing sent Kiedan Hartley strolling over on the left hand side. 16-28
On the 70th minute it looked to be all over as Lewis Young shrugged off a tackle to score, but with no conversion the lead was only three scores at 16-32, and from the kick off Rochdale retrieved the ball and scored almost straight away through Sheridan to cancel out Young’s try.
With a 20-32 lead Hunslet needed another score to make sure, and wasted chances to drop a goal whilst camped on the Hornets line.
An attacking grubber kick was executed poorly and a Hornets player scooped it up and scampered away, Lewis Young’s tackle halted him but the referee deemed Young had held on too long and he became the third Hunslet player of the day to receive a yellow card.
Down to twelve men Hunslet had their backs to the wall and when Taira scored on the 78th minute it was game on at 26-32.
Only a minute later Hornets ripped through a tired Hunslet defence and Jordan Syme slid over under the posts which with conversion tied us up at 32-32.
It now looked as if the momentum was Rochdale’s, and with plenty of added time they looked favourites to win, it was disappointing however when the referee pulled Hunslet up for offside as Marsh converted and it looked to be a poor way to lose a game. 34-32
However, we weren’t done, and Hunslet still had time to score. Duane Straugheir looked to have done the job but was held short and as the hooter sounded the referee awarded a penalty to Hunslet and sin-binned a Rochdale man (his 5th of the day).
Rather than tap and go Hunslet decided to go for the draw and Jy-mel Coleman showed a cool head to slot the conversion over. Coleman was outstanding for the Parksiders, and McClean and Kidd did the good hard work in the middle, whilst Halafihi and Young were lively.
Alan Kilshaw will be frustrated though, at 16-32 up on 70 minutes Hunslet should not be having to fight for a draw, they will probably need to win their remaining three games now to reach the play-offs, but on the positive side they never stopped fighting ‘til the hooter.
Hunslet RLFC: Lewis Young, Wayne Reittie, Aaron Jones-Bishop, Reece Chapman-Smith, Kiedan Hartley, Jy-Mel Coleman, Dominic Brambani, Frazer Morris, Vila Halafihi, Harry Kidd, Joe McClean, Duane Straughier, Mikey Wood. Subs: Nathan Conroy, Alex Rowe, Jordan Andrade, Joseph Summers.
Rochdale Hornets: Cian Tyrer, Sean Ainscough, Ben Calland, Jo Taira, Shaun Robinson, Reece Dean, Rob Fairclough, James Connaughton, Sean Penkywicz, Callum Marriott, Josh Jordan-Roberts, Jordan Syme, Gavin Bennion. Subs: Ben Moores, Lewis Sheridan, Ben Forster, Luke Fowden.
Photos courtesy of Chris Chatten