North Wales Crusaders 20-30 Hunslet RLFC
Hunslet overcame a first half deficit of 16-6 to beat a lively North Wales Crusaders outfit at Chester RUFC.
The Crusaders had been moved from their home at Colwyn Bay over the English border to Chester, but the game was in doubt after a Ladies game between North Wales and Oldham had to be halted due to a serious injury to a player. Thankfully the player was treated and the match could start as scheduled.
Although the home side had an early chance after Hunslet spilt a kick, the Parksiders’ defence was strong and it was they who took the lead on only 9 minutes.
Adam Ryder had gone close after a Myles Lawford kick was spilt, and the tricky half-back again made good yards before Aaron York slipped out a ball for Beharrell to put Jack Render over in the corner. 0-6
Alfie Goddard again broke the Crusaders line and it seemed to be all Hunslet, but the momentum changed on 12 minutes when Josh Lynch went 60 yards after blatantly knocking the ball on. The referee waved play on and with Billsborough’s conversion we were all square at 6-6.
Now the Crusaders got on top, with repeated sets being wiped they forced a drop-out before, on 20 minutes, Kieran Taylor found a gap to score. 10-6
Hunslet couldn’t get a hand on the ball and it was left to last gasp tackling to keep the Parksiders in it. Render and Watson halted Reid as he was certain to score, and Jimmy Watson again made a superb tackle on Hazzard as he romped towards the line.
Although Spencer Darley went close for Hunslet, Matt Fletcher looked to have scored for Crusaders but the loose forward was short.
On 39 minutes though the home side did stretch their lead when Pat Rainford nipped over from dummy half after Crusaders had regained possession when a Hunslet man made a play for a kick. With Billsborough converting Crusaders lead 16-6 at the break and it was all to do for the Parksiders.
If Hunslet had any chance of getting back in the game they needed to score pretty quickly and that’s what happened when strong running forwards Spencer Darley and Marcus Green set up a good field position for Myles Lawford to send Sam Hallas over (Beharrell converting) 16-12.
Alfie Goddard made a try saving tackle keeping the Parksiders to within four points before on 51 minutes, after good pressure, a skilful Matthew Beharrell ball sent Josh Jordan-Roberts over beside the posts. 16-18.
The Parksiders have been good in the second period this season, coming out of the sheds with renewed vigour, and now they had the lead it was important to keep their foot on the gas.
Although Crusaders still posed a threat when an attack on the left was knocked on with the line beckoning the Hunslet defence was strong, and on 64 minutes Beharrell broke the Crusaders line and fed Sam Hallas who notched his second try of the afternoon underneath the sticks. 16-24
The game looked out of reach for North Wales and when Jimmy Watson found a gap after Beharrell and Knowles combined on 72 minutes it was now an impossible task 16-30.
The half-back pairing of Lawford and Beharrell looks to be working and the latter had a great afternoon with the boot converting 5 from 5.
Crusaders went down to 12 men when Bradley Billsborough was sin-binned and Hunslet again went close with Alfie Goddard.
But Crusaders had the last say when a Matty Beharrell ball was intercepted by Josh Lynch who ran 60 yards to notch his second try of the afternoon.
This was a game Hunslet may have lost last season, but with a firing half back pairing, Jimmy Watson in top form and strong running forwards in Steve Crossley, Harvey Hallas and Josh Jordan-Roberts making space for the backs to exploit it never looked in doubt once they regained the lead.
Sam Hallas picked up the Hunslet Ex-players Association Man of the Match (selected by his team mates) and brothers Olly and Joe Burton also had fine games.
Hunslet will need to be on top form next week as second placed Doncaster visit the South Leeds Stadium on Sunday 2 July, kick off at 3pm.
Hunslet RLFC: Jimmy Watson, Jack Render, Adam Ryder, Joe Burton, Alfie Goddard, Myles Lawford, Matthew Beharrell, Steve Crossley, Sam Hallas, Harvey Hallas, Josh Jordan-Roberts, Aaron York, Michael Knowles. Interchanges: Jordan Syme, Ollie Burton, Spencer Darley, Marcus Green.
North Wales Crusaders: Dwain Abel, Josh Lynch, Dan Hill, Matt Reid, Rob Massam, Brad Billsborough, Matt Fletcher, Jack Houghton, Jake Burns, Chris Barratt, Ryan Ellis, Kieran Taylor, Carl Forster. Interchange: Callum Hazzard, Jordan Andrade, Brad Brennan, Pat Rainford. 18th Player: Jack Holmes.
Main photo: Captain Steve Crossley helps Jimmy Watson celebrate his try. All Photos: Paul Johnson Phoenix Photography