Hunslet Rugby League club’s head coach Gary Thornton has plenty of reasons for satisfaction following his side’s outstanding 62-10 win at London Skolars on Saturday.
The victory followed hot on the heels of the 36-22 success over Rochdale Hornets, suggesting that the Parksiders have turned the corner after an indifferent start to the BetFred League 1 campaign.
Thornton reflected: “It’s always a tricky encounter down there. The Skolars have some quality players and can either win comfortably or struggle.
“As part of our preparations for the game I’d watched the video of their previous match, at Doncaster, when they’d been 12-0 up – and good value for it – and level at 12-12 at halftime, before losing 46-12. I’d rammed home the message during the week that we had to be very careful, that the Skolars can’t be taken lightly, and that we had to be on song if we were to come away with a win.”
He continued: “It was a very good day, although yet again we had to overcome adversity when our fullback Jimmy Watson went down in the opening minute with an Achilles ankle injury. He had no one near him, it was bizarre, and we all felt for him, he’s a very important and popular member of the squad.
“We had to reshuffle, with Matty Chrimes going to full back – where he did everything that was asked of him – and Brad Hey moving to the centre from the second row, with Lewis Wray taking Brad’s spot.
“Halfback Jy-Mel Coleman had pulled out the night before with a groin strain and young Dave Gibbons stepped in for him and did a good job.
“Then Tommy Ashton suffered a dead leg and had to come off at half-time. Fortunately we were well ahead by that stage, because we were running on fumes in the second half.”
Thornton concluded: “Other than the injury to Jimmy, I have to be very satisfied. Our fitness, which had been an issue in the opening weeks of the season, has improved, while Mikey Wood – our big signing from Newcastle – was terrific on his debut and, with Zach Braham and Alex Rowe, set a strong platform.
“Sion Jones and Joe McClean made big contributions off the bench and Vila Halafihi gave us plenty of spark at hooker on his return from injury and scored a valuable hat-trick. Lots of things pleased me. We’re getting close to where we want to be.”