Hunslet Hawks produced the proverbial game of two halves on Sunday to see off Doncaster and collect two precious Kingstone Press Championship points.
The Hawks made three changes to the side that were put to the sword at Bradford last week. Andy Kain returned at stand off with Josh Walters and Liam Mackay coming into the pack. Brett Delaney had returned to the Rhinos with Simon Brown and James Houston also missing out.
The Hawks had a dream start, although there were portents of what was to come in the opening try. Hunslet knocked on inside their own 20 metre line, but from the scrum Andy Kain popped up to intercept Richard Wilkinson’s pass and out run his pursuers for 80 yards to touch down under the posts, Ansell converting to make it 6-0
That was the highlight of the first 39 minutes for the home side, as the remainder of the opening stanza was a mistake-ridden display which left coach Barry Eaton apoplectic in his main stand vantage point. His side’s defence was cut apart on 13 minutes as a lovely break and off load from Curtis Naughton set Doncaster on the attack with Stewart Sanderson finishing the move in the corner for their opening try. He was unfortunate with his conversion attempt from right on the touchline, the ball coming back off the upright.
The next ten minutes saw both sides wrestle to gain control of the game, but Hunslet looked disorganised in attack and put no real pressure on the Doncaster defence. Incredibly when they did finally get close to their opponents’ try line, somehow they ended up going behind. A dabbed kick through ricocheted into the path of Naughton and he sprinted 90 yards to score a stunning try. This time Sanderson made no mistake with the kick and Doncaster were 10-6 ahead.
The try knocked Hunslet’s confidence and more and more mistakes began to creep into their game, so it beggared belief that they actually went into the dressing rooms for the interval in front. As the clock ticked into the final minute of the half, Ansell chipped into a crowd of players with Jimmy Watson coming down with it to score a simple try. The conversion put the Hawks 12-10 ahead at half time.
There was almost a case of deja-vu at the start of the second half when another Hunslet kick was blocked on the line and broke to a Doncaster player. Fortunatley for the Hawks it fell to Lee Waterman who did not have the pace to break away and was hauled down on halfway. Hunslet though gave away a couple of penalties in quick succession and allowed Sanderson to level the scores as he slotted over from in front of the posts.
From that moment on though, Hunslet took control of the game as they finally began to take care of the ball for their full sets of six. On 55 minutes they went in front for good as Kain forced his way over from short range with Ansell adding the extras. The Hawks had two tries ruled out for a knock on (off Jimmy Keinhorst’s head!) and a forward pass by Andy Yates as they looked desperately for the score which would give them a bit of daylight. When it did come it was from the boot of Ansell who knocked over a penalty given for offside in the 66th minute.
With 9 minutes to go Kain grabbed his hat-trick, capping an impressive performance with a slaloming run between three or four Doncaster players to secure the match. The icing on the cake came from the final play of the game as Brad Brennan capped his usual barnstorming performance by crashing over under the posts. Ansell kicked both conversions to complete a perfect afternoon from the kicking tee and make the final score 32-12.
The win sees Hunslet move into 9th place in the table on 4 points, leaving Doncaster rooted to the bottom of the table without a win. Next week sees a long trip to the West Country to take on the Gloucestershire All Golds in the Challenge Cup, where the Hawks will be hoping to make comfortable progress before another key Championship fixture against South Yorkshire opposition in Sheffield Eagles.
Hunslet: Watson; Duckworth, Keinhorst, Maun, Finigan; Kain, Ansell; Yates, Lee, Mulhern, Casey, Walters, Mackay Interchange: Flanagan, Brennan, Briscoe, Lyons
Doncaster: Naughton; Scott, Cowling, Waterman, Sanderson: Cooke, Wilkinson; Carbutt, Kesik, Waller, Turgut, Snitch, Emmett. Interchange: Howarth, Robinson, Spiers, Tyson-Wilson