Head coach Alan Kilshaw has confirmed his 21-man squad for Sunday’s final regular fixture of the 2022 Betfred League One campaign, at Oldham.
The south Leeds outfit, importantly, lie sixth – the final qualifying spot for the forthcoming promotion play-offs. However, Oldham, who are two points behind but have a superior points’ difference, will snatch Hunslet’s spot if they prevail. A draw, meanwhile, will suffice for the Parksiders, who have yet to secure a play-off berth after having seen a 20-12 interval lead turn into a 32-20 reverse last week against Doncaster.
It’s a contest Kilshaw is relishing. He said: “It’s an exciting game to be involved in. These are the matches we all work towards, and look forward to, throughout the year. We need to continue our effort from the first 40 minutes last week and do it for 80 this time.
“That’s a big thing for us. We have been building our game over the last few weeks – not without some disruptions and adversity – but Oldham are in the same boat as us with injuries and bumps and bruises.
“It’s about the 17 who take the field for Hunslet, and not the lads who can’t. We are aware of the implications of the result but our focus through the week has been on our process. The group is ready to win and knows what effort is needed to do that on Sunday afternoon.”
Hunslet will select from: Jack Render, Jason Mossop, Harvey Hallas, Harvey Whiteley, Josh Jordan-Roberts, Joe Summers, Jordan Syme, Ethan O’Hanlon, Jordan Paga, Liam Carr, Kieran Moran, Macauley Hallett, Jacob Doyle, Pat Walker, Sion Jones, Matty Beharrell, Joe Hird, Cole Oakley, Jamie Greenwood, Josh Milthorpe, Fraser Stroud.
The Parksiders’ injury list now includes Wayne Reittie and Ross Peltier, who have suffered season-ending injuries. Peltier (who has now returned to Dewsbury Rams, having been on loan) has undergone a scan which revealed a torn meniscus, while Reittie sustained a ruptured calf muscle against Doncaster. Captain Duane Straughier (broken arm), fullback Jimmy Watson (knee) and Cam Berry (broken hand) had already had the rest of the 2022 campaign chalked off through injury.
Hunslet and Oldham drew last April’s league fixture at the South Leeds Stadium 22-22, the Parksiders having roared back from 22-4 adrift early in the second half.
Oldham’s media manager Roger Halstead reflected: “The scoring and defending records of the two clubs are intriguingly similar, Roughyeds having scored 541 points in their 19 games and conceded 508, while Hunslet show figures of 495 and 494, also across 19 league games.
“History suggests it’s going to be anybody’s game — a tight thriller with few points separating victors and vanquished after 80 minutes of explosive action.
“Oldham must win, Hunslet need only a draw, and their recent record in Oldham is good. They’ve won their last two away games against Roughyeds and you’ve got to go back nearly eight years to find Oldham’s last home win against them – 24-23 would you believe!
“Of the last five meetings, Hunslet have won three, Oldham have won one (34-20 in Leeds in 2019) and there was that 22-22 draw earlier this year. Add up the aggregate scores over those five games, however, and the difference is only six points. It couldn’t get much closer than that!”
Halstead continued: “The clubs have a similar background in many ways. For example, both have seen better days; both have been nomads as far as home grounds are concerned; both are fighting back and showing true grit and resilience after going out of existence under previous managements.
“For Watersheddings read Parkside. For Oldham Bears read Hunslet Hawks. For county and international stars like Alan Davies, Don Vines, Sid Little, Derek Turner and Frank Pitchford read Geoff Shelton, Brian Gabbitas, Dennis Hartley, Bill Ramsey or the legend that is Geoff Gunney.
“Unlike Oldham, Hunslet have twice been to Wembley, in 1934 and in 1965 when they lost to Wigan 20-16 in what is generally regarded to have been one of the best-ever Challenge Cup Finals. Their cup campaign that year began with a 12-4 first-round win against Oldham at Parkside.
“The 1899 Challenge Cup Final at Fallowfield finished Oldham 19, Hunslet 9 while the 1908 Championship Final, the year Hunslet won All Four Cups, saw Oldham playing Hunslet at The Willows, Salford. Hunslet won 12-7.”
He concluded: “In more recent times, who will ever forget that Championship One Grand Final at Headingley when a Thomas Coyle, golden-point drop goal in extra time broke Oldham hearts?”