Harry Jepson OBE Memorial Trophy: Hunslet RLFC 48-6 Leeds Rhinos
Hunslet made it three wins in three years on Friday (31 January 2020) since the annual pre-season friendly with their local rivals was changed from the Lazenby Cup to the Harry Jepson Memorial Trophy.
It was also their third and final pre-season friendly and they completed a trio of fine wins against a young but keen Leeds Rhinos team.
In truth, Hunslet’s size was always a problem for Leeds, but early on the Rhinos gave as good as they got and could have easily taken the lead in the first minutes. Slowly though, the hosts took control, Ben Markland going close but losing out to the touch line.
Eventually Hunslet took the lead and it was down the left hand side where they looked strongest. New signing Matt Chrimes opened the scoring on 15 minutes, before only a minute later the impressive Danny King was too hot to handle after great work by Chrimes and Ashton. No conversions though, 8-0.
Fortune favoured the home side though on 25 minutes when Jimmy Watson scampered under the posts from a blatant forward pass. The provider Tom Ashton having carved up the Leeds defence, and on the half hour mark Danny King again weaved through the Blue and Amber lines to score under the sticks, 20-0.
Nothing can demoralise a defence like a 40/20, pushing the opposition deep into your half and Hunslet’s Simon Brown did this on 35 minutes. The platform meant Dom Brambani could side step his way through to gift Hunslet another six points. 26-0.
As Leeds legs tired the introduction of Alex Rowe was the last thing they needed, his strength punctured holes in their defence and set up Vila Halafihi for a try almost bang on the hooter. So 32-0 to the hosts at the break and an uphill task for Leeds if they wanted to claim the Harry Jepson trophy.
All photos: Stephen Gaunt / Touchlinepics.com
The first fifteen minutes of the second half became a stalemate as both sides made substitutions and the flow of the game was lost, but on 60 minutes Keidan Hartley went over for a fine try after good handling. Hartley had replaced Jimmy Watson at full-back and had hit the line at just the right time to score. 36-0.
Competition for places is important and there are some big games coming up so players hadn’t long to make a mark. Harvey Hallas, Danny Rowse and Josh Tonks certainly impressed for the Parksiders, but the next try was scored by Simon Brown close in to the posts on 75 minutes, before Josh Tonks strolled over a moment later to make it 48-0.
Kicking duties had been shared by Brown, Brambani and Rowse with 6/9 being successful.
It would have been a badge of honour for Hunslet to keep a clean sheet as defence is so important after last year, but Leeds nicked a try in the last minute as McConnell collected a re-bound off the posts to score.
So, 48-6 and Hunslet have some silverware to celebrate. With a Challenge Cup game against Coventry and then a trip to Keighley for a fiery league opener to come, the Parksiders will face stronger teams. But already they look well drilled and ready. Some players will be knocking on the door, Man of the Match Danny King being one of them.
Hunslet RLFC: Jimmy Watson, Ben Markland,Bean Heaton, Tom Ashton, Matthew Chrimes, Simon Brown, Dominic Brambani, Zach Braham, Jack Lee, Harry Kidd, Danny King, Duane Straugheir, Vila Halafihi. Replacements: Josh Tonks, Danny Rowse, Harvey Hallas, Jack Ray, Kiedan Hartley, Lochlan McGill.
Leeds Rhinos: Liam Whitton, Iwan Stephens, Corey Hall, Jack Broadbent, Liam Tindall, Harvey Spence, Jack Mallinson, Tyler Dupree, Harvey Whiteley, Muizz Mustapha, Sam Walters, Joseph Gibbon, Luis McConnell. Replacements: Oliver Burton, Rian Rowley, Nathan Snee, Oliver Field, Joseph Burton, Lewis Delaney-Holmes, Thomas Barton.