Hunslet retained the Harry Jepson OBE Memorial Trophy with an emphatic 48-6 win over a Leeds Rhinos reserve/academy side.
More importantly, though it was against over-matched opposition, the Parksiders looked like a team who could make an impact in Betfred League One this year.
They have size and power up front and pace on the flanks, as well as craft in the halves, as two 40-20s in the first half highlighted.
Leeds put plenty of effort into defending their line, holding opponents up over the whitewash four times, but couldn’t cope physically.
Rhinos had no go-forward and were shoved back regularly when in possession, regularly beginning their sets deep in their own territory.
It was 32-0 at half-time and Leeds held their own in the third quarter as Hunslet made a series of changes, but the hosts ran in three late tries before Rhinos grabbed a late consolation.
Other than the try, Rhinos threatened to score on only three occasions. Tyler Dupree went close early on, Corey Hall was pulled back for a forward pass and Oli Burton had a touchdown ruled out for offside.
Matt Chrimes, a student international winger signed from Rochdale Mayfield, showed up well for Hunslet and opened the scoring after 13 minutes from a pass by his centre Tom Ashton.
Three minutes later Ashton put Chrimes away again and he sent Danny King, a strong-running recruit from Dewsbury Rams, powering over.
Muizz Mustapha held up Jack Lee over the line, but on the next play Jimmy Watson crossed from Ashton’s pass and Simon Brown’s first conversion made it 14-0 after 22 minutes.
Dom Brambani dummied over for Hunslet’s fifth try, which he also converted and a sixth came on the stroke of half-time through Vila Halafihi.
That was tough on Hall who had done well to hold up Ashton on the previous play.
To their credit, Leeds kept Hunslet out for 20 minutes of the second half – AJ Boardman and King both being held up – before Kiedan Hartley, a former Rhinos academy player signed after a season at Featherstone Rovers, went over from Ben Heaton’s offload.
Brown crossed after some scrappy play with 10 minutes left and Josh Tonks completed Hunslet’s try haul, Danny Rowse tagging on his second goal.
In the final moments Harvey Spance’s kick hit a post and Loui McConnell followed through to touch down, Spence adding the extras.
In the final minute Hunslet’s Zach Johnson was sent-off for a dangerous tackle which sparked a skirmish.
Meanwhile, Rhinos were named team of the year at the wheelchair rugby league awards ceremony at Emerald Headingley last night.
Disappointed Leeds coach Chev Walker admitted: “We did too much defense and gave the ball away too cheaply.
“We need to respect the ball more and our game-management has to be better.”
Hunslet’s Gary Thornton said: “I was happy, we executed some good plays and did some nice stuff against a spirited Leeds team.”
Hunslet: Watson, Markland, Heaton, Ashton, Chrimes, Brown, Brambani, Braham, Lee, Kidd, King, Straugheir, Halafihi. Subs Aldous, Andrade, Boardman, Hartley, Hallas, Forde, Copland, Johnson, Tonks, Ray, Rowe, Rowse.
Leeds Rhinos: Whitton, Stephens, Hall, Broadbent, Tindall, Spence, Mallinson, Dupree, Whiteley, Mustapha, Walters, Gibbons, McConnell. Subs Burton, Rowley, Field, Delaney, Snee.
Referee: Neil Horton (Wakefield). Attendance: 664.
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