Rochdale Hornets 24-26 Hunslet RLFC

Hunslet clung on for a famous win at the Crown Oil Arena Rochdale to go second in the league and set up a first versus second clash this Good Friday (29 March) against Keighley Cougars at the South Leeds Stadium.

Nails were bitten down to the quick before the hooter sounded. Then a happy band of Yorkshiremen travelled back across the Pennines victorious. Hunslet have now won two from two in their quest to get promotion from League 1 to the Championship.

It wasn’t like that from the off though as, with Hunslet still on the bus, Lewis Else went over on the last tackle after the Parksiders had earlier kicked the ball dead. 4-0 after only 2 minutes.

Rochdale smelled blood and only last gasp defending from Jimmy Watson kept the score at 4-0. Another ball was kicked dead by Hunslet and silly penalties were given away. But even though Jordan Syme intercepted to save Hunslet’s blushes the visitors could not get out of their own half.

When Hunslet finally had some field possession a stray pass was intercepted by Joe Hartley who went 80 yards to score shrugging off three tacklers on the way. Rudd converted and Hornets led 10-0 on 15 minutes.

On the 20 minute mark Hunslet slowly started to come into the game. Winning a scrum in their own half Jack Render made a 60 yard break before handing on to Jude Ferreira who was too quick for Hornets, scoring in the left corner. 10-4

Now Hunslet started to play. Both Hallas and O’Hanlon went close before, on 29 minutes, quick hands by Watson and Levy sent Harry Williams over on the right hand side. 10-8

Finishing the half stronger Hunslet got the lead on 33 minutes when Harry Williams made a break and Spencer Darley proved too strong for the Hornets’ defence. Beharrell converted and Hunslet lead 10-14 at the break.

Rochdale started the second half livelier. Aaron Levy had to field a kick, whilst Jack Render and Jimmy Watson were forced to clear their own lines. Rochdale kept coming and Hunslet’s defence had to be resilient.

On a rare visit up field Jude Ferreira went over but lost the ball, although the referee had already pulled it back for a forward pass.

Hearts were in mouths when quick passing to the right set Dan Nixon up to score, but the Rochdale winger fumbled the ball and Hunslet were able to find an attack of their own.

On 55 minutes Will Adams went close, before on the last tackle an inch perfect Harry Williams kick was fielded spectacularly by Jude Ferreira who wrestled his way over for his second of the afternoon. Beharrell converting 10-20.

Jude Ferreira leaps to score. Credit: Craig Irvine

Hunslet again rode their luck when Rochdale for the second time knocked on with the line open, and now injuries came into the game. Jack Render and Will Adams had to leave the field and Hunslet quickly had to reorganise.

This gave Rochdale a chance to strike and on 66 minutes Flanaghan cut through the Parksiders defence before on 69 minutes Joe Hartley went over after Hunslet had spilt a kick. 20-20 and we were in for a thrilling finish.

With Rochdale looking to score Alfie Goddard read the play and intercepted to save a try, he then set off on an 80 yard run to score, but defenders caught up and shook the ball loose in the tackle. The decisive score came on 75 minutes when Ross Whitmore, lively at acting half-back slipped a pass out to a rampaging Harvey Hallas who was too strong and dived over the line close enough for Matty Beharrell to add the extras. 20-26

It still wasn’t over though as Lewis Else also picked up his second try for Hornets on 78 minutes, but too far out for Matty Rudd to level it up. 24-26

Rochdale came again, but the Hunslet defence held solid and on the hooter it was the Parksiders who celebrated a tough fought victory.

Coach Dean Muir will be happy with Hunslet’s start to the League season. Two wins from two will breed confidence for the next two tough games against Keighley and Oldham. Hunslet will however, have to start these games better as they were sluggish out of the blocks, and they cannot afford to give teams a 10 point start every week.

Jude Ferreira again shone in attack and Ethan O’Hanlon was superb off the bench, whilst Jordan Syme and Billy Gaylor took the team forwards, but the defence was a real team effort today as this side builds itself into the season.

Both Hunslet and Rochdale Hornets wore odd socks today to raise awareness for Downs Syndrome and two of Hunslet’s most loyal supporters Tony Dawson and Kyle Butterfield led the team out onto the pitch.

Hunslet wear odd socks for Downs Syndrome Awareness Day. Credit: Craig Irvine
Tony Dawson and Kyle Butterfield who led the team out pictured with Ethan O’Hanlon. Credit Craig Irvine


Hunslet RLFC:  Jimmy Watson, Alfie Goddard, Will Adams, Jude Ferreira, Jack Render, Harry Williams, Matty Beharrell, Harvey Hallas, Billy Gaylor, Toby Everett, Josh Jordan-Roberts, Aaron Levy, Jordan Syme.  Interchanges: Cam Berry, Ross Whitmore, Spencer Darley, Ethan O’Hanlon. 18th Player: Aidan Scully.

Rochdale Hornets:  Gregg McNally, Dan Nixon, Myles Harrop, Joe Hartley, Tommy Brierley, Max Flanaghan, Lewis Else, Toby Brannan, Matty Rudd, Luke Nelmes, Ben Forster, Deane Meadows, Duane Straugheir.  Interchanges: Jonny Openshaw, Jordan Andrade, Brad Brennan, Ben Killan. 18th Player: Connor Ratcliffe.

Main photo: Harvey Hallas burst through for the winning try. Credit: Craig Irvine