If anyone thought Hunslet were turning up to make the numbers up they were sadly mistaken. Paul March had obviously got the boys fired up for a visit to one of the favourites to take this years championship. Both teams were at each other from the kick off with Hunslet matching Widnes in both the forwards and backs.
As in recent weeks the Hawks were the first to put points on the board after a strong forward run from Steve Dooler set up field position. From the play-the-ball, David March collected the ball and scooted over the line for an unconverted try which gave Hunslet a 4-0 lead after just 6 minutes. Hunslet’s defence, which goes from strength to strength, was displayed when full back Stuart Kain wrestled the ball from the hands of a Widnes centre who only had to ground the ball to score. The same player looked hesitant when Tommy Haughey charged out of the line forcing a knock on in their own half. Hunslet increased their lead when a high tackle from the Vikings gave Danny Ratcliffe the opportunity to slot the ball over the posts to leave the scores 6-0. From this point Hunslet’s attack was relentless and the reward duly came when Danny Grimshaw split the Widnes defence with a brilliant diagonal run. The extras were added by Ratcliffe to give Hunslet a thoroughly deserved 12-0 lead at the break.
Memories from previous weeks at York came flooding back when within a space of 12 minutes Richard Varkaulis and Anthony Thackery crossed the line. One of the tries was successfully converted by Steve Tyrer and Widnes had clawed their way back into the game at 10-12. The Hunslet team of 2011 are made of stern stuff, however, which was amply demonstrated when the Vikings attack was held at bay for 3 consecutive sets.
The frustration was clear to see on the Widnes faces when Steve Pickersgill was sent to the bin for one of the Vikings numerous high tackles; the referee’s patience being tested by the fact that this one was late as well. Widnes’ lack of composure was evident again when a mix up between three Widnes players led to a loose ball being pounced upon by Waine Pryce, who ran 60 metres to score under the posts, followed only by the noise of the visiting fans shouts and screams of approval. Ratcliffe’s conversion gave Hunslet some breathing space with an 8 point lead. Minutes later Pryce got hold of yet another fumbled ball but only a bout of cramp could stop him scoring a replica try.
Hunslet defended their lead until the final hooter sounded, giving them a memorable victory. A special mention should be given to Hunslet’s travelling support who out clapped, sung and cheered the near 3000 home support for a full 80 minutes; a fact not missed by the players who went to the Hawks fans to show their appreciation.
An outstanding display from Paul March’s boys who have already shown that they are not going to give anyone an easy ride. It was hard to decide on any individual performances as the Hunslet side showed such a team effort.
March did remark after the game that he hoped to be back on the playing field next week because his nerves, and his finger nails, couldn’t stand the prospect of watching from the sidelines again.
See you next week at Batley