Hunslet turned on the style on Sunday to overturn a 16-12 interval deficit in beating second-placed North Wales Crusaders 30-22 in a highly entertaining Betfred League One clash.
The Parksiders gained revenge for the 30-8 away defeat in the Betfred Challenge Cup back in February by notching four unanswered touchdowns in the second period (two to hat-trick man Jacob Doyle) before Brad Billborough grabbed a late consolation score for the Crusaders. Tommy Johnson adding his third goal.
Hunslet’s win, moreover, was achieved despite a shoulder injury sustained by stand-off Joe Sanderson in the first minute which caused him to leave the field; stand-in kicker Jordan Syme landed the conversion of an early try by Harvey Hallas, that Sanderson had helped create, as the stand-off was helped off.
Josh Jordan-Roberts and Wayne Reittie claimed the Parksiders’ other touchdowns, while Syme totalled three goals.
Head coach Alan Kilshaw said: “Having watched the game back I’ve had my first impression, made on the day of the match itself, confirmed: that we were very good, particularly in the second half.
“What also became apparent on a more leisurely viewing was that North Wales were also impressive. It was a good game of Rugby League – the kind that can only help us further build up our fan base – and the Crusaders certainly came to play. But as they themselves said, we deserved to win.”
He continued: “There were a number of factors behind what was our best performance of the season, not least our swift transition from defence to attack. And I was delighted by how we overcame adversity when Sanderson had to go off in the early stages with a shoulder injury. Syme had to switch from the second row to stand-off as a consequence, and props had to move into the second row, while because of our injury absentees we already had a forward – Cole Oakley – in the centre.
“On top of that we inevitably missed Sanderson’s kicking game, both in going for goal and in the loose, where the Crusaders were able to apply more pressure on Jordan Paga. Given all those issues, it’s good to know that we can handle whatever might be thrown at us.
“Other than Sanderson – and we’ll know more about the extent of the damage when a starts to get more movement in his shoulder, in a day or two – we suffered no injuries other than the usual bumps and bruises. We’ve no match this weekend but there’ll be no let-up in training, especially as our next game, at home to Rochdale Hornets, is on Saturday week rather than on the Sunday.”
`Killer’ concluded: “It was a very good win, and we know that we have that in us. It’s no secret that we should have beaten league leaders Keighley on Good Friday, so we’ve had the better of recent games against the first- and second-placed sides in our section. In hindsight the result at Doncaster the week before last was perhaps no bad thing, it showed us what we had to do, and it gave me a good insight into what my best team is.”