Hunslet Rugby League club’s head coach Gary Thornton had plenty of reasons for satisfaction following the Parksiders’ 26-18 win at gritty North Wales Crusaders on Saturday.
The south Leeds outfit needed to prevail – and put in an improved performance – after the indifferent display in the home reverse against Workington Town on the opening day of the Betfred League 1 campaign. And the Parksiders did both, notching a seventh successive victory over a Crusaders team that is much stronger than that record would suggest.
North Wales were, indeed, on level terms at 18-18 deep into the second period, but Hunslet took the spoils through Kiedan Hartley’s late try and the last two of Dom Brambani’s five goals; Tom Ashton, Sion Jones and Hartley had crossed earlier.
Thornton said: “I’m pleased with the way we responded to the Workington defeat, I got a good reaction from the boys.
“We put a few things right, and it was important that we got off the mark.
“We managed the game well in the closing stages, on a difficult pitch, with halfbacks Simon Brown and Dom Brambani making the most of a strong platform set by our forwards.
“Our pivots Vila Halafihi and Nathan Conroy also made big contributions. There are a few things to work on – we tried to force things a couple of times – but we’re heading in the right direction.”
Hunslet’s strategy of snuffing out the threat of Crusaders’ dangerous winger Patrick Ah Van by pinning him in the corner with deep kicks paid off, while the return of influential captain Duane Straugheir from injury was also important.
“Straff’s a leader and galvanises the side,” said Thornton, who was also pleased with the contributions of winger Wayne Reittie and centre George Senior, who are on loan from Batley Bulldogs in the wake of a number of early-season injuries. “They were inevitably a bit rusty, but both impressed me. Retts carried the ball up well, and George set up one of Kiedan Hartley’s tries. Our other loan man from Batley, forward Anthony Bowman, will come into the frame for selection for Sunday’s home fixture with Barrow.”
Thornton, meanwhile, will assess Jones and winger Matty Chrimes at training tonight; both rolled ankles during Saturday’s win.