Thursday, 3 March 2016


Having lost 24-4 at home to York in the iPro Cup, Hunslet bounced back in style last week with an old-style 46-12 flogging of a hapless Barrow side that’s now out of both cups before a ball’s been dropped in anger.

Of the two results thus far, we’re more surprised by the defeat to York than the battering of the Raiders - as when we took a look at Hunslet in their final pre-season hit-out at Keighley they looked significantly more like the finished article than a flapping, foundering Cougars.

Indeed, on the coldest Sunday of the winter, we trekked over to Cougar Park on a bit of a spying mission - and these are our observations.

- Pretty much everything goes through lynchpin stand-off Simon Brown - he’s also their in-play kicker. Oh - and he kicked 7 from 8 conversion attempts last week.
- Hunslet’s forwards love an offload: always looking for some second-phase. Particularly catching our eye was Number 10, prop Lewis Read, who they ran third-man/second pass away from the ruck where he made plenty of yards.
- Scrum Half Danny Ansell is used as an option on in-play kicking, to less effect than Brown. Busy on attack, but defends very wide in the left-hand centre channel - where Keighley’s right centre scored a hat-trick. Ansell scored twice against Barrow last week: his second off a return pass from second row Ben Crane.
- Combative hooker Jack Lee has a bit of a short-fuse.
- Winger Richie Barnett poses a threat when they kick high to his wing - one to keep an eye on.

Also worth keeping an eye on are three quarters ex-Roughyed Mo Agoro and Ex-Fev Rovers centre Mufado Mvududu, who set up Barnett’s brace last Sunday.  Hunslet have also taken Dewsbury Rams’ prop forward Zach Johnson on a month’s loan

Having had a look at Hunslet’s battering of Barrow, they were as effective as the Raiders were awful. You can see the highlights of that game here

Speaking in the Yorkshire Evening Post after last weekend’s win, Hawks Coach Matt Bramald is in confident mood: “That may be as well as we can play, but if it is I think it will be enough to take care of most teams in our division,” he said. “If we can reproduce that and add some bits on top, we will go well.”

Bramald has a couple of injury concerns following the the Barrow game: Michael Haley suffered a facial injury in a clash of heads and Jimmy Watson was removed as a precaution with bruised ribs. He’ll also be missing  loose-forward Liam Mackay for at least four weeks with a shoulder injury picked up in the iPro Sport Cup defeat by York.

Early season injuries are also the bane of Alan Kilshaw’s preparation for a new season. With Lewis Galbraith nursing a broken hand and Dave Cookson having broken a collarbone, the threequarter line will get a bit of a shuffle for the first few weeks of the season.

Injuries apart, Hornets have had as good a pre-season as we can remember: a full programme of friendlies and safe passage in both cup competitions via a hard-won squelch-fest at Barrow and a perfunctory dismissal of Mayfield last week. But this weekend is where the real business starts: the 2016 season on the launch-pad at last.

Now’s the time for Hornets #nextgeneration to show the rugby league world what it's capable of.
Now is the time… let’s have it.