AFTER A poor start, Hunslet Hawks came out of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup fourth visit of Catalan Dragons with some credit, despite a 50-12 scoreline against them.
Hawks trailed 20-0 after 17 minutes, but a red card for Catalan hooker Ian Henderson evened up the contest a little.
Henderson – the former Bradford Bulls hooker – was dismissed after 27 minutes for a late challenge on Hawks scrum-half Luke Helliwell, who went off and only returned for the final moments.
Helliwell is one of Hawks’ play-makers so his loss was a blow, though dual-registered Leeds Rhinos hooker Liam Hood came off the bench and revelled in the extra space the sending off created.
Ironically, Henderson hadn’t been due to play, but was drafted into Catalan’s side just before kick-off when Julian Bosquet withdrew.
Catalan led 20-0 when Henderson walked so there was no danger of the red card affecting the result, but it did help stem the tide.
Hunslet battled hard, but there was a huge physical difference between even a half-strength Super League team and Championship part-timers.
That was illustrated at the start of the second half when Aston Wilson and David Clayton were both hurt tackling Dragons full-back Morgan Escare.
Hawks at least had a couple of tries to celebrate and they were both good ones.
The first came on 50 minutes, Hood offloading to James Houston, who slipped out a lovely ball to send Andy Yates in. David March converted.
Then in stoppage time Danny Grimshaw sliced through and Helliwell added the extras as the hooter sounded.
Hawks also forced four goal line drop outs, had a try disallowed – Houston’s pass to Yates being ruled forward – and got over the line three other occasions.
Jimmy Watson’s knocked-on and Liam Welham and Houston were both held up.
Hawks conceded after two minutes, before they had been in possession and barely touched the ball in the opening quarter.
They were penalised on the second tackle and in the resulting set William Barthau went over for the first of the French side’s nine tries.
Damien Blanch intercepted March’s pass to add a second four later, Thomas Bosc crossed on 10 and Jean Phillipe-Baile made it 20-0.
Catalan added one more try before the break, through Zeb Taia to make it 26-0 at the interval. In the second period Barthau crossed twice to complete his hat-trick and Baile and Eloi Pelissier also touched down. Bosc kicked seven conversions.
Hunslet officials were pleased with the crowd of 600 which meant – on top of £1,000 from the RFL to cover expenses – they will make a small profit from the tie.
The hosts were less happy with a 10-5 penalty count against them. George Stokes refereed in a hoody in the first half due to a kit mix-up.
Hunslet Hawks: J Watson, Kain, Wilson, Welham, Pryce, Grimshaw, Helliwell, Haley, Haigh, Houston, Haughey, S Watson, March. Subs (all used) Hood, Yates, Menzies, Clayton.
Catalan Dragons: Escare, Blanch, Pala, Baile, Vaccari, Bosc, Barthau, Simon, Mounis, Henderson, Taia, Larroyer, Baitieri. Subs (all used) Pelissier, Maria, Gaush, Fakir.
Referee: George Stokes (St Helens).