That’s the reaction of Hunslet Rugby League club’s head coach Gary Thornton following Saturday’s 38-12 Betfred League 1 victory at West Wales Raiders.
The Raiders, who remain without a win this season, are nevertheless clearly improving steadily under coach Aaron Wood and scored two tries in the second period after having trailed 26-0 at the break.
Hunslet had brushed aside a number of setbacks – several withdrawals the previous day being followed by travel issues on the journey to Llanelli, and the loss of winger Niall Walker in the game’s first tackle with a head injury (in an echo of Jimmy Watson’s Achilles injury in the opening seconds of the recent fixture at London Skolars) – to establish that healthy advantage in their successful bid to extend their unbeaten sequence to four games.
Captain Duane Straugheir bagged a brace in a dominant opening period, when there were also tries by Will Cooke, Tom Ashton and Simon Brown, with Dom Brambani landing the first three of his five goals.
The Parksiders were limited to touchdowns by forwards Jordan Andrade and Mikey Young in the second period as the early loss of Walker, and the first-half withdrawal of Harvey Hallas with a cut below his eye, had an inevitable effect.
“We had only 15 fit players in the second half,” said Thornton. “One of those, prop Andrade – who I’d wanted to have plenty of game time – played the full 40 minutes, which will have done him a lot of good.
“It was understandable in the circumstances that we couldn’t continue scoring at the same rate as we had in the first half, especially as we’d had to reshuffle following the loss of a winger, which necessitated forwards moving into the backs. Aaron Wood told me afterwards that that was West Wales’ best display of the season; the only real disappointment, perhaps, was that both of the Raiders’ tries came from our errors, so that’s something we’ll be addressing in training this week.”
Thornton will also be monitoring the wellbeing of the men who had to pull out of the game. He said: “Nathan Conroy was ruled out because of concussion sustained the previous week against Doncaster – crucially, he had one less day’s recovery time as we were playing West Wales on the Saturday – so young Dave Gibbons came in, to rotate at hooker with the returning Vila Halafihi.
“Alex Brown became unavailable through a dead leg sustained in the Doncaster match, while Joe McClean had to pull out because his partner got Covid.
“Hopefully they’ll all be available for selection for Sunday’s fixture at Coventry.”
He continued: “Following the late withdrawals, our side on Friday evening was very different to what it had been on Friday morning.
“But we were always in control against a Raiders side that did look good at times, with some high-profile rugby union signings beginning to make their mark.
“We were very impressive in the first half especially, when we might have scored a few more points. I’m pleased that we are continuing to improve overall and it was great to get Brambani back, fully recovered from his calf injury.”