Hunslet’s head coach Gary Thornton has identified plenty of positives from Sunday’s pre-season friendly with Barrow Raiders, despite the 12-6 home reverse.
The Parksiders were 6-0 ahead, through Jimmy Watson’s try and Simon Brown’s conversion, until the closing stages when the Raiders levelled following the sin-binning of Alex Rowe for an alleged late tackle on Barrow’s kicker Ryan Johnston. And the Cumbrians – who, along with Hunslet, are expected to challenge strongly for promotion from Betfred League 1 – sealed victory with a second score ten minutes from time.
Thornton, who felt that Rowe’s yellow card was harsh, said: “Our ball retention in the first half was poor, at not much over 50 per cent, and that’s got to be improved on. In the light of that we did well to be in front as the hour-mark approached. I was quite pleased with our defensive effort, our structures were tested and the players came up to the mark.
“You can sometimes learn more from defeats than from victories in Rugby League and one thing that delighted me was the reaction of the players afterwards. They were very disappointed to have lost and that tells me a lot about our mentality.
“We could in fact have snatched at least a draw if Jack Norfolk had passed to Liam Copland, who was free on the flank, in the last few minutes, while Copland wasn’t too far off catching a telling kick by Dom Brambani that would have brought him a try.”
Hunslet are now turning their attention to more serious action, and the opening league game of the season, when Workington Town travel to the South Leeds Stadium on Sunday 9 May. A number of injuries will be assessed at training this week, Thornton revealing: “There’s plenty of recovery time ahead of the match, which is the reason I always avoid arranging friendlies the week a season starts.”
Centre Will Cooke was stretchered off in the opening stages of the Barrow game with a painful knee injury and Thornton said: “There’s no break, but Will’s sustained soft tissue damage. He’s going back for a scan but at this stage it looks as though he could be out for a few weeks.
“Our captain, Duane Straugheir, came off against Barrow with a rib injury and winger Kiedan Hartley is still recovering from rib damage sustained the previous week against North Wales.
“Tom Ashton is another with rib trouble, while Brad Hey has a slight groin strain and Lewis Wray missed the Barrow match after rolling his ankle in training.
“I should have a clearer idea about how they’re all looking for the Workington game by this weekend.”