HUNSLET registered a second successive victory over one of Rugby League’s heartland clubs – and over another outfit that harbours hopes of promotion from Betfred League One – with Sunday’s 36-18 verdict against Rochdale Hornets.
The win, which followed the 22-18 success over Workington seven days earlier, would have been much more emphatic if Jack Render had not had a `try’ controversially ruled out for obstruction in the closing stages; the Parksiders subsequently conceding late touchdowns to former Hunslet men Ethan O’Hanlon and Cam Berry, both of which were improved by Dave Hewitt, who had also converted Luke Forber’s try on 53 minutes.
Other than that disappointing finish, and an indifferent opening in which only two of eight sets were completed, Hunslet played football of a quality as high as has been seen in League One, with winger Johny Campbell grabbing a hat-trick as a 26-0 lead was established early in the second half.
Hooker Nathan Conroy and second row Josh Jordan-Roberts also dotted down in the opening period while outstanding stand-off Matty Beharrell, who kicked four goals, sold an audacious dummy for an important score that extinguished Hornets’ slim hopes of forcing their way back into the issue, and Render did well to squeeze in at the corner of Adam Ryder’s well-timed pass.
Hunslet’s head coach Alan Kilshaw, who reported no injuries, said: “After our sloppy start, we were exceptional in going 22-0 up by the break. In fact, for a 40 minute spell straddling the interval we were excellent. But the players are very ready to learn lessons and will address the sluggish start, and the indifferent finish, which may well have owed something to us failing to complete our sets in the early stages, which takes a fair bit out of the tank.”
He added: “Another factor may have been that there were several players out there who had played for the opposing side, and who may have felt they had a point to prove. And it’s possible that one or two of our lads might, with the match clearly won, have started to think about this week’s important fixture at Oldham.
“I can be a harsh critic but I’m also a big fan, and we’re heading in the right direction. And this was yet another game in which we’ve kept the opposition scoreless throughout an entire half; in fact, only London Skolars and Workington have breached our defence in each half, in league games, this season.”
Kilshaw himself had previously coached Rochdale, while Hornets boss Gary Thornton had previously been at the helm at Hunslet. “I treat all opponents exactly the same,” insisted Killer, “I just want to win – and, of course, see the kind of performance that we’ve been working towards in training.”
Pictures below courtesy of Craig Irvine, main picture Paul Whitehurst