Hunslet Hawks 12 – 50 Catalan Dragons
Not even a first half red card was enough to save the hardworking Hunslet Hawks as a classy Catalan Dragons side ran in nine tries to complete a 50-12 victory in the fourth round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.
The pattern of the game was set almost from the first kick off, with Dragons cutting through the Hawks defence in the first minute and William Barthau touching down after an early rick infringement from Hunslet. They continued to score seemingly at will to post three tries in the opening ten minutes, one of which an impressive effort from Damien Blanch which saw him run his own interception 60 metres to score.
Several more infringements at rucks meant that Hunslet struggled to gain possession of the ball, and whilst the defence was shored up after the early pressure, there was, in truth, little attacking threat for the Dragons to contend against. Their fourth try was arguably the pick of the bunch as a well-aimed cross kick from stand-off Thomas Bosc gifted Jean-Philipe Baile.
At 20-0 down, a glimmer of hope came for Hunslet as a late hit on the bright Luke Helliwell saw Ian Henderson dismissed for the French side. However, their superior fitness and skills paid dividend despite a small resurgence from the Leeds-based team, and they completed the half with a fifth try, this time for standout player Zeb Taia, leaving Hunslet 26-0 down at half time.
Hawks began brightly second half, with the tie being far more evenly fought, and after finding themselves 32-0 to a second Baile try, again claiming an accurate cross kick, they finally managed to cross the line to register their first points through the always involved Andy Yates.
A clinical response followed from the Dragons, crossing three more times in the closing quarter of an hour, the highlight of which saw a series of impressive offloads on the last tackle gift William Barthau his second try of the afternoon. His hat-trick followed after another interception before Hunslet added their second of the match right on the buzzer to at least give their always vocal support something to cheer about.
With two clinical interception tries and a series of intelligent offloads and cross kicks on the last tackle, the gulf in class between the two sides was all too evident. With Hunslet currently struggling in the bottom half of the Kingstone Press Championship, hopefully they can at the very least take some confidence from scoring twice and having three further efforts held up over the line against an opposition who currently lie fifth in the Super League.
As they pick themselves up from this one-sided defeat to look to the remainder of the season, they must take great heart from the old adage the Club have adopted as their motto; ‘We’ve swept the seas before boys, and so we shall again’.