Hunslet RLFC 22-8 North Wales Crusaders
After a tough first half Hunslet ground out a victory against a well-drilled North Wales Crusaders with a third consecutive second half clean sheet yesterday at the South Leeds Stadium (5 March 2023).
An injury to winger Keiron Lawton in the early minutes upset the Parksiders, and uncharacteristic mistakes meant they were under the cosh from the Welsh visitors.
On only 6 minutes a Crusaders’ player looking well wrapped up released a pass to Carl Forster who dived over to score, Bradley Billsborough converting 0-6.
Even though Harvey Hallas went close mistakes kept coming and penalties were conceded frustrating the home support. After Hunslet were caught offside Bradley Billsborough added 2 more for the visitors and on 20 minutes the Welshmen led 0-8.
Slowly though, the Hunslet forwards began to get on top and a period of sustained pressure on the Crusaders’ line created a few chances. Eventually on 33 minutes a gap opened up and Jake Sweeting was only too happy to nip through and score. Converting his own try, 6-8.
Although both Steve Crossley and Josh Jordan-Roberts were making good ground, passes were rushed and it seemed Hunslet were forcing every play into a try scoring play.
Jimmy Watson was a saviour when Owain Abel broke through, making the tackle when it seemed the Welsh winger would dance his way to the line.
So 6-8 at the break, nothing in it but Hunslet so far rarely out of second gear.
At first the second half started like the first had ended with Hunslet giving away penalties and some unusual decisions from the referee, but when a thunderous Adam Ryder tackle knocked the ball loose from Jack Holmes’ grasp and Hunslet touched down, it looked like the Parksiders had hit the lead, only to be brought back for a knock-on.
This spurred Hunslet on and even though an incident was put on report the hour mark saw Harvey Hallas slip a lovely ball to Nathan Newbound who went over by the left upright. Sweeting converting to edge the Parksiders in front 12-8.
North Wales Crusaders won a penalty from the kick-off and Hunslet had to defend their slender lead. Chris Barratt went over for the visitors, but the try was disallowed and Hunslet hung onto the 4 point gap.
Former Hunslet man Jordan Andrade was sin-binned for a late tackle on the lively Harvey Whiteley and with a numerical advantage Hunslet put the game to bed.
On 68 minutes Sam Hallas found a gap and fed Harvey Hallas from close range, then on 72 minutes Josh Jordan-Roberts put a neat kick in for Joe Burton to follow up and score. Jake Sweeting had converted the first of these tries giving Hunslet a now unassailable 22-8 lead.
The last 5 minutes of the match descended into niggles and brawls as the game went beyond the visitors and after some fisticuffs a player from each side was sent off, but all this was forgotten on the full-time hooter as Hunslet were congratulated on a hard fought win.
Sponsors’ Man of the Match Josh Jordan-Roberts and Steve Crossley were dominant going forward. Whilst the supporters chose Harvey Hallas as their Man of the Match having been involved in match deciding moments. Harvey Whiteley and Sam Hallas were also impressive for the home side whose coach Alan ‘Killer’ Kilshaw was pleased at his sides defence in the second half.
Hunslet will be able to gauge themselves next week when they take on last year’s League 1 Champions Keighley Cougars in the Challenge Cup. A game of mouth-watering interest.
Kick-off is on Sunday 12 March 2023 at 3pm at the South Leeds Stadium.
Hunslet RLFC: Jimmy Watson, Kieron Lawton, Adam Ryder, Joe Burton, Sean Croston, Fraser Stroud, Jake Sweeting, Harvey Hallas, Sam Hallas, SteveCrossley, Josh Jordan-Roberts, Aaron York, Mike Knowles. Interchanges: Harvey Whiteley, Nathan Newbound, Jordan Syme, Lewis Wray. 18th man: Jordan Bull.
North Wales Crusaders: Owain Abel, Joshua Hughes-Lynch, Kieran Taylor, Matthew Reid, Jack Holmes, David Gibbons, Bradley Billsborough, Callum Hazzard, Bradley Kinks, Jordan Andrade, Alexander Eckley, Carl Forster, Chris Barratt. Interchanges: Patrick Rainford, Bradley Brennan, Shaun Costello, Matthew Fletcher. 18th man: Danto Matthew-San
Pictures courtesy of Paul Whitehurst