The weather was more like the South of France than the South of Leeds as we welcomed visitors Toulouse Olympique. After a run of disappointing results the Hawks were due a win after the amount of effort shown in recent weeks.
Toulouse started the game targeting what they thought was a Hunslet weakness, by playing a kicking game but fortunately for the Hawks Ritchie Barnett and Stuart Kain were on top form catching every ball that came their way. Both teams seemed equally matched playing out their early sets with neither team making inroads until Darren Nicholls collected his own chip and rounded Stuart Kain to give Toulouse the lead. The try converted by Josh Lewis gave the score of 6-0. The score did not seem to dishearten the Hunslet side who continued to play good solid rugby and 8 minutes later some good work by the pack got Hunslet to within 2 metres of the Toulouse line. Neil Lowe stepped in at half back and barged his way through three of the French defenders to touch down and reduce the deficit to two points and Hunslet were level when Elliot Kear converted the try. After this the Hawks seemed to come alive with ferocious tackling and clever play meaning Hunslet were in total control. All the efforts paid off when Elliot Kear slipped Ritchie Barnett the ball in his own half, Barnett danced through the Toulouse defenders and sprinted over the line to put the Hawks in front. Kear knocked the ball over from in front of the posts and it was 12-6 to Hunslet. Apart from a couple of half breaks by Toulouse which were dealt with by the impressive Stuart Kain, Hunslet saw out the half with ease.
From the second half kick off you could see the confidence growing through out the team, with every body wanting the ball, non more so than Ritchie Barnett who was having easily the best game of the season so far and showing everyone how he could really perform which was much appreciated by the Hawks fan. A Danny Grimshaw offload on 59 minutes saw Stuart Kain score a try which was just rewards for his fine performance; with a missed conversion Hunslet were a deserved 16-6 up. Hunslets play had obviously demoralised Toulouse and frustration was creeping into their play with high tackles and dropped balls giving Hawks the advantage that their game deserved. It was a wonder Hunslet had not put more points on the board and had to wait 10 minutes from time to increase their lead when David March gave a perfect offload to the waiting Danny Ratcliffe who forced himself over the line. This time the conversion was successful and the score was 22-6 in the Hawks favour. A great performance was rounded off when Elliot Kear latched onto another Danny Grimshaw pass and crossed the line, converting his own try to round off a fine performance by all the Hawks.
Today’s display was probably Hunslet’s best all round performance of the season so far. Hopefully the confidence will carry on into our next game against York on Friday afternoon. The Hawks are now fifth in the league, surely above what anybody could have expected of the newly promoted side.
See you at York on Friday for a 2pm kick off.