Hunslet pip spirited Rhinos to retain Jepson trophy

Hunslet RLFC 18-16 Leeds Rhinos

Hunslet held on against a young but spirited Leeds Rhinos side at South Leeds Stadium last night (2 February 2024) to retain the Harry Jepson OBE Memorial Trophy for the 6th season in a row.

Coach Dean Muir used the tie to utilise his full squad as well as some trialists, getting a look at the full squad before next week’s Challenge Cup tie at home to Keighley Cougars (Sunday 11 February 3pm).

Things started well for Hunslet when half-back Jack Mallinson found Jude Ferreira on only 4 minutes, the former Hull man too strong close to the line. 4-0

Leeds’ discipline cost them as Alfie Goddard went close to stretching Hunslet’s lead. But the home side made unforced errors and eventually the Rhinos grew into the game.

Although Ferreira and Sheils combined in a Hunslet attack, it was Leeds who scored next on 21 minutes as good passing sent Oliver Smart over in the corner. 4-4

With some confidence in the Rhinos’ veins they scored again on 25 minutes when Dylan Proud scooped up a dropped Hunslet pass to cover half the pitch to score. Kai Taylor-Smith adding the extras. 4-10

Hunslet did reduce the arrears on 29 minutes when Jordan Syme forced his way over after Leeds conceded a penalty. Harry Williams conversion hit the post and Leeds led at the break 8-10.

Man of the Match Alfie Goddard.  Credit Craig Irvine

Hunslet came out stronger in the second period. Iwan Orr added pace at full-back and was unlucky not to make an early break down the right.

On 46 minutes Hunslet took the lead when Jack Mallinson (who was impressive at half-back) orchestrated a move that ended in Keenan Dyer-Dixon diving over in the corner. 12-10

Although Nathan Carter made a break for the Parksiders and Luke Mearns went close the final pass was off and Leeds defended well.

On 62 minutes Iwan Orr went close for Hunslet and quick passing out to the left saw Dyer-Dixon get his second of the afternoon (Mallinson converting) 18-10.

Both sides broke through tired defenders, but it was Leeds who scored next on 77 minutes when Kai Taylor-Smith gathered his own kick to score and convert the try. 18-16

Leeds could have won it at the death when a huge kick was left to bounce. The Rhinos gathered the ball but the final pass went to ground with the Hunslet line wide open.

At the ref’s whistle Hunslet got the win. Leeds put in their best performance in recent years and Hunslet got to test the depth of their squad.

Coach Dean Muir with the Harry Jepson OBE Memorial Trophy

It will be interesting to see Dean Muir’s first 17 against Keighley Cougars next week. Alfie Goddard and Jack Mallinson were impressive as was Orr and Sheils pace, whilst Whitmore was lively around the rucks.

Hunslet play Keighley Cougars in the Challenge Cup next week (Sunday 11 February) at 3pm at the South Leeds Stadium. Tickets bought in advance online are: £15 adults, £10 concessions, Under 16s go free.

Teams

Hunslet RLFC:  Jimmy Watson, Ben Sheils, Alfie Goddard, Jude Ferreira, Jack Render, Harry Williams, Jack Mallinson, Jack Coventry, Ross Whitmore, Toby Everett, Jordan Syme, Aaron Levy, Billy Gaylor.  Interchanges: Dan McGrath, Lewis Wray, Cam Berry, Spencer Darley, Liam Carr, Iwan Orr, Ethan O’Hanlon, Nathan Carter, Kennan Dyer-Dixon, Luke Punton, Luke Mearns.

Leeds Rhinos:  Kai Taylor-Smith, Oliver Smart, Jacob Rushforth, Harry Taylor, Dylan Proud, Shane Tuohey, Lewis Hollidge, Mason Corbett, Freddie Brennan-Jones, Harrison Gilmore, Bobby Hartley, Leo Aliyu, Sam Webb-Campbell.  Interchanges: Ashton Robinson, Joe Phillips, Tayler Stephenson.

 

Main Photo:  Keenan Dyer-Dixon scores in the corner.  Credit: Craig Irvine

 

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