HALF-TIME came at the wrong time for Hunslet in Friday evening’s home Betfred League One fixture with Doncaster.
That’s the considered view of the Parksiders’ head coach Alan Kilshaw following a match in which a 20-12 interval lead turned into a 32-20 defeat.
Hunslet, with halfbacks Matty Beharrell and Pat Walker, together with fullback Jordan Paga, combining to telling effect, performed as well as in any game his season in the first 40 minutes – but the contest was turned upside down in the second period, with the south Leeds outfit unable to add to tries by Paga, Beharrell and Josh Jordan-Roberts, with Walker kicking four goals. The defeat means that the winner of Hunslet’s fixture at Oldham on Sunday will take part in the promotion play-offs, while the loser’s season will be over.
“I was a bit surprised by the mood in the dressing room at half-time, after we’d had much the better of the closing stages of the first half,” said Killer. “It was a bit flat. Maybe the first half had taken a lot out of the side. Then we started the second half with an error, when Jacob Doyle very uncharacteristically spilled a bomb and Doncaster scored in the next play. We never really recovered from that, in fact we started chasing the game far too early. Two of the Dons’ tries, too, by their halfbacks, were soft, while the one by Jason Tali followed a clear knock on, which is perhaps the story of our season, there must have been four or five allowed against us like that, which have been costly.
“But the lesson our players have to learn is that we have to put calls like that behind us and not get side-tracked by them.”
Injuries again disrupted Kilshaw’s plans, with winger Wayne Reittie having to come off in the early stages with a ruptured calf muscle.
“That was a blow in itself,” he said, “but there was a knock-on effect as our plan was to introduce substitute Cole Oakley at loose forward. He had, instead, to go on in the centre – if he’d been in the middle he would in all probability have prevented the soft tries by the Dons’ halfbacks Ben Johnston and Connor Robinson. And, on the other side of the coin, when Doncaster’s Watson Boas was injured they were able to replace him with Robinson, which illustrates their strength in depth.”
Despite the defeat, `Killer’ can draw plenty of positives from the match. “The halfback combination between Walker and Beharrell is certainly developing,” he said. “They’ve only played together three times, and they’re increasingly effective, while Paga worked well with them at fullback. New signing Jamie Greenwood looked good at hooker, so our `spine’ is looking strong.
“Overall, though, we need to be more clinical, but we’re ready for Oldham, who we have a good record against. And we’re looking for the usual strong support from our fans, who were great yet again on Friday.”