Hunslet RLFC 12-20 Batley Bulldogs
After last week’s disappointment of their pre-season friendly against Halifax Panthers being cancelled due to an icy pitch, the Parksiders finally got a hit out yesterday (29 January 2023) against a strong Batley Bulldogs side.
The Bulldogs (who were runners up in last year’s Championship) have already had a couple of warm up games this season and proved a good opposition to test 2023’s Parksiders.
Hunslet, sporting their new light green jerseys (in homage to the 70’s Greyhound Stadium team) got off to a great start when loose forward Michael Knowles went over after good running from former Bradford man and club captain Steve Crossley. Jake Sweeting converted, 6-0 after only 2 minutes.
The shock of a Hunslet try jolted Batley into action, and although at first Hunslet were resolute in defence eventually on the 8th minute Dale Morton forced his way past in the corner, converting his own try to level up the scores at 6-6.
Both sides were rusty at first and mistakes came especially in the handling department. McGowan was a handful for Batley, whilst in his testimonial year Jimmy Watson held the line for Hunslet.
Eventually the game found some rhythm and after some considerable Batley pressure Lucas Walshaw found a gap to sprint through and score. 6-10 after 24 minutes.
New signing from Midlands Hurricanes Nathan Newbound was introduced and his strong running set Hunslet onto the front foot, but on the half hour mark tempers boiled over and both Dan McGrath and Samuel Kibula were sin-binned for fighting.
Although Hunslet finished stronger Batley had the lead at the break 6-10.
A good start to the second half was essential for the home team and only 3 minutes in Lewis Wray powered over from a Danny Barcoe pass, Sweeting converted to give the Parksiders a 12-10 lead.
Wray, on his second spell at Hunslet, ran strongly and Barcoe (a signing from York) was very lively, but the Championship team were never going to roll over and die.
With plenty of ex-Hunslet men in the ranks Batley came into the game forcing Hunslet to clear the lines many times. One drop out found touch and relieved the pressure for a while, and by the hour mark Hunslet were starting to look good for the lead.
Experience is key this season for Hunslet and Michael Knowles was bringing that all over the park. His ex-Dewsbury team mate Adam Ryder will also be a handful for League 1 defences this season.
It’s no good having pre-season games if you cannot test new players, so personnel was changed quite often, and after a mass change round for the Parksiders Batley snuck over from close range to regain the lead in the shape of Lucas Walshaw (grabbing his second of the afternoon). Morton converted 12-16 with 10 minutes to play.
Hunslet were still in the game, but truth be told Batley finished stronger and on 72 minutes from a neat little chip through Joshua Hodson pounced to score. 12-20
So the Championship side took the spoils, but Coach Alan Kilshaw will be thinking more of the minutes in his side’s legs than the result. Hunslet go again on Friday against a Salford Reds 2nd team hoping to jell together quickly before that tough League opener at Doncaster.
Nathan Newbound (on debut) received Man of the Match whilst Michael Knowles, Sam Hallas and Joe Burton also impressed of the new men.
Hunslet are at home to Salford Reds this Friday (3 February 2023) kick off 8pm. Tickets £10, £5 concessions and children under 16 go free.
Hunslet RLFC: Jimmy Watson, Jack Render, Adam Ryder, Joe Burton, Kieron Lawton, Jake Sweeting, Nathan Conroy, Harvey Hallas, Sam Hallas, Steve Crossley, Josh Jordan-Roberts, Aaron York, Mike Knowles. Subs: Danny Barcoe, Nathan Newbound, Jordan Syme, Lewis Wray, Tyler Walton, Morgan Punchard, Dan McGrath, Jordan Bull.
Batley Bulldogs: Aidan MaGowan, Dale Morton, Joshua Hodson, Elliott Kear, Jonathan Campbell, James Meadows, Benjamin White, Adam Gledhill, Ben Kaye, Keegan Hirst, Nyle Flynn, Lucas Walshaw, Luke Blake. Subs:Alistair Leak, Martyn Reilly, Michael Ward, Samuel Kibula, Oliver Burton, Gregory Johnson, Tobias Richardson.
Pictures Paul Johnson