Disappointment as Hunslet Hawks end difficult Easter period with a loss away at the Shay
The Hawks travelled to Halifax to complete their Easter fixtures following a gutting result against Leigh – looking to set themselves back on course against a difficult Halifax side.
The Hawks received the kick off and from the start it looked set to be a difficult game for the Huns, Halifax chasing down the kick forcing the Hawks to quickly complete their set. Kain’s first kick testing the Fax players back to receive it, the Hawks quick to reciprocate forced a quick set from Halifax who fumbled their kick to complete their set handing the Hawks great possession 20 meters out. The Hawks couldn’t convert, though Kain’s kick again troubling defenders but finding itself bounding out for a restart.
Both teams traded attacks, neither causing any real issue to the other. Both giving everything as they battled through until the 7th minute – a forward pass from the Hawks allowing Halifax a scrum deep in Hunslet’s half. Halifax’s offence swung the ball across the pitch stretching the Hunslet defence, quick offloads troubling the visitors until Steve Tyrer got the ball on the wing. Cutting inside and leaving a gap just wide enough for Alex Brown to exploit, the winger sliding across the line deep in the corner.
Tyrer’s kick from a difficult angle failed to curl its way in, the score 4-0.
The Hawks countered just 2 minutes later. Rob Mulhern scoring his first try of the season in a move that started with Halifax dropping the ball on half way.
Hunslet’s scrum following the dropped ball saw them easily gain ground into the home side territory a high bomb to finish the set challenging the defence who knocked on just seconds after taking over possession giving the Hawks the ball just 10 meters out.
The Hawks made the best of the position on the field. Rob Mulhern forcing his way over the line to score his first of the season and the Hawks first of the game. The kick for Brown easy, the Hawks in the lead 4-6 just minutes after conceding.
The Hawks scored again 8 minutes later. Halifax kicked to complete their set straight at Richie Barnett, the ball found its way to a charging Luke Briscoe who found a gap in the Fax line. The centre sprinted past tackles and drew in the remaining defenders before releasing an onrushing Jimmy Waston to complete the move. Between them they ran nearly 60 meters, Simon Brown again kicked the conversion to take an 8 point lead.
Halifax scored their second in the 21st minute, a Halifax kick into the corner finding a Hawks player who dived on it to secure it. The ball was dislodged though in the chase from Halifax, Ben Heaton managing to touch the ball down and bring them back into the game. Tyrer’s kick good to take the score to 10-12.
The Fax came back into the game in great fashion scoring again from the Hawks kick off – a poor chase following the kick costing Hunslet a penalty. Poor defending then cost the Hawks as Divorty and Saltonstall found a gap working the ball to Chris Taylor who grounded it for their second try in 3 minutes. Tyrer’s conversion making the score 16-12.
Halifax were flying and soon scored their third in just 8 minutes, a knock on from Hunslet giving the home side a scrum on their 40. Ross Divorty causing trouble again this time and centre, Steve Tyrer tumbled over but failed to convert his own kick. The missed kick not dampening the mood of the new bounding Halifax who had gone from 8 points down to 8 points ahead in 8 minutes.
The Hawks struggled to get a foot back into the game before the half, as time ticked on and the home sides attacks kept coming. Halifax even trying chipped kicks over the line to exploit the Hawks – luckily they failed though. As the half drew closer Halifax seemed to settle and the Hawks glanced on the opportunity and took it.
The Fax in an attempt to slow play before the half were penalised for holding down, giving Hunslet the ball just 20 meters out. An offload from Keinhorst finding Luke Briscoe who slid under the onrushing tackle of Saltonstall to bring the Hawks back into the match. Brown’s kick making the score 20-18 as the teams left the field just a minute later.
The second half kicked off and with the words of Barry Eaton still ringing in the ears of the Hawks players. They looked to take the lead once more, a forward pass from Fax gave Hunslet the ball meters from the line. The kick across field to finish the early set knocked on another set to the Hawks. The Hawks lost the ball, a wayward pass going out of bounds, but before they could set back into defensive duties the Fax had dropped the ball again gifting possession to the Hawks. Again they completed the set, this time the ball kicked across goal troubled the home side forcing a dropout.
Despite the continued pressure, the Hawks couldn’t get the final pass right to score and both the home side and home fans took heart in that. The first 10 minutes of the second half had been a struggle for Halifax under constant attack, but the Hawks hadn’t scored in this time. The home team had awoken and with that they looked to attack, an inside kick on their first attack of the half looking to have presented them with a score, but it was called back for an offside.
The Hawks got the restart on the 40, and this time they made it count. A cross field kick from Brown was again an issue for Halifax. Vinny Finigan picked the ball and ducked under the panicking defenders to score, Simon Brown’s kick again good the Hawks now with a 4 point lead, the score 20-24.
With the Fax chasing and Hunslet looking to maintain the lead both teams battled continuously back and forth. The home fans growing more and more irritated they couldn’t make their attacks count began to get on the Ref’s and the players’ backs. The Hawks fans urging the team to hold the lead spraying out a rousing rendition of ‘So We Shall Again’.
The game ticked into the 70th minute, still all to play for, both sides giving it everything. Halifax received another great kick from Brown this time the chasers struggled to reach the ball and it cost the Hawks. Halifax were speeding the game back up trying to get into their rhythm again, off loading the ball and creating space as the Hawks defenders struggled to chase back.
Dane Manning making the most of the scrambling defence before offloading to Scott Murrell who took Jimmy Watson over the line with him as he scored. The game was tied, the Fax still to attempt their conversion, regular kicker Steve Tyrer was off the field though something the Halifax fans and Hawks fans seemed to both sense. The kick from Murrell, an attempt to convert his own try, now seemingly what the game hinged on. The kick was good and the Fax took back a 2 point lead, the score now 26-24 with only 6 minutes remaining.
The Hawks threw everything at the Fax to score as the seconds ticked down, Luke Briscoe attempted to find a break down the far side but was dragged into touch. The game looked over for the Hawks with only 2 minutes left, but it wasn’t going to be that easy for Halifax. A knock on handed the ball straight back to the Hawks, a lifeline, another high kick from Brown troubled the home side but they came up with the ball. The Hawks fans away in the corner cheered every tackle, urging for one last attack.
The Hawks got the ball back with 1:30 on the clock 70 meters away from the line. Each tackle drew a reaction from both sets of fans, seconds ticking away, meters to the line becoming shorter. In a cruel twist of fate, as the Hawks attempted to grubber the ball, James Saltonstall found it arms length away. The full back gathering up the ball sprinted 80 meters in the opposite direction to score. Exhausted players from both sides chasing behind collapsed over the try line as the full time hooter sounded, only time for Murrell to add a further 2 points and seal the win.
The final score 32-24. 80 minutes of end to end play from both sides – luck the only thing that could truly split them.
The game wrapped up a gutting, but overall worthwhile Easter weekend for the Hawks. Although it totalled no additional points on the ladder, the team have come on leaps and bounds in the eight games so far.
Speaking after the game Coach Barry Eaton said,
“Three games in the space of eight days that we’ve had against top opposition have highlighted we’ve not got a bad side here. They’ve probably taken a lot out of us these last eight days and it’s important that we regroup in readiness for the next game on Sunday, but I couldn’t be more proud of the boys today.”
Next weekend’s game against Whitehaven is now a real 6 pointer for both sides. Kick off 3pm at South Leeds Stadium.
Halifax: Saltonstall, Brown, Heaton, Tyrer, Potts, Taylor, Murrell, Cahalane, Kaye, Ambler, Divorty, Manning, Fairbank. Subs: Robinson, Maneely, Spencer, Moore.
Hunslet: Watson, Barnett, Briscoe, Maun, Finnigan, Brown, Kain, Mulhern, Flanagan, Lyons, Keinhorst, Backhouse, Mackay. Subs: Ansell, Martin, Brennan, Mvududu.