HUNSLET warmed up nicely for Sunday’s opening Betfred League One fixture of the season, at Doncaster, by retaining the Harry Jepson OBE Memorial Trophy with a comfortable 50-12 win over Leeds Rhinos on Sunday.
Leeds had, terms of the scoreline, been very much in the fixture (which is one of the oldest in Rugby League, having been contested as the Lazenby Cup since before World War One) at the break, at only 14-8 down.
Stand-off Kai Morgan, their best player, had landed a late penalty after having converted Joe Gibbons’ try but, other than Morgan’s outstanding 40-metre solo touchdown on 53 minutes, the youthful Rhinos were under the cosh throughout the second period against the physically stronger and more experienced home side.
No one illustrated that fact more than Hunslet centre Adam Ryder, who was close to unstoppable and claimed four tries.
Two of those were notched in the first half, when livewire hooker Danny Barcoe also crossed.
Joe Burton, Jake Sweeting, Steve Crossley and Nathan Newbound joined Ryder in dotting down in the second period, while Sweeting closed with seven goals from nine attempts, one effort rebounding off a post.
Head coach Alan Kilshaw said: “It was a very quick game, faster than League 1 in fact, and it was a good opportunity to test our fitness levels.
“Scoring early on went against us a bit, we didn’t quite go through the processes for the rest of the first half, but it was different in the second period, when we stuck to the structure much better. We were stronger, physically, than a talented young Leeds team, and we were good to watch. We’ve recruited forwards – and backs – who know how to handle the ball and while there are obviously circumstances, such as weather conditions or the situation in a particular game, when you have to rein things in, I also generally enjoy the expansive approach.”
`Killer’, who had reported a clean bill of health in the immediate aftermath of the match, heads into this week’s training with no subsequent injuries reported from the fixture. Irish international Peter Ryan, though, remains sidelined through a hand injury sustained playing Student Rugby League while another new signing, Rob Worrincy, hasn’t featured in any of Hunslet’s pre-season games because of work commitments. Kilshaw said: “We’ve lots of strength in depth in the wing, with such as Jack Render, Sean Croston, Kieron Lawton and Dan McGrath offering plenty of options, and in different ways.”
He added: “I’m very pleased with our halfbacks, Nathan Conroy and Jake Sweeting, for their input against Leeds. We’ve done a lot of work with them and they’ve taken everything on board and created opportunities for the outside backs. And Danny Barcoe went well at hooker when brought in after we decided to rest Sam Hallas, who had sustained a minor injury in training. Hallas would have played had it been a league game but there was no point risking him, and Barcoe – and Harvey Whiteley – were both effective in the pivot position.”