BEATING NEIGHBOURS Leeds Rhinos will be huge for Hunslet Hawks’ confidence, coach Barry Eaton says, writes Peter Smith.
Hawks pulled off a 20-16 win to lift the pre-season Lazenby Cup at South Leeds Stadium yesterday and after relegation to Kingstone Press Championship One last year, Eaton said it was an ideal tonic.
“I thought we played really well,” said Eaton, who also has a part-time role on partner club Rhinos’ coaching staff.
“We defended really, really well in the first half and we had some good shape with the ball as well. We asked some good questions of the Leeds defence.
“We had a poor start to the second half – five penalties conceded in 12 minutes put us on the back foot and Liam Sutcliffe cut loose three or four times.
“Potentially the game could have gone away from us, but we hung in there, got a bit of possession back and got a couple of good scores.
“The result wasn’t all-important, but certainly from the players’ point of view we weren’t on the back of many good, positive wins last year.
“That is going to be a real positive for the players in terms of building some confidence going into the season.
“It was more important from the players’ point of view than from mine – I want to look at the performance.
“But ultimately when you get a performance like that you have got a chance of winning the game.
“We are all pleased and we’re building nicely towards the season starting.”
Eaton added: “Credit to our groundstaff.
“We had an awful week of weather and a couple of other games were called off, but our pitch was in fantastic nick and allowed some good rugby to be played.
“I was pleased with our shape with the ball and we’ll look to step it up again against Wakefield on Sunday.
“We have put most things in place now and it’s just a matter of repetition and making sure combinations start to gel and our skill levels start to get a bit better and we get smarter.
“Overall things are coming together nicely and we have still got some players, like Dave March, James Coyle, Liam Hood, Luke Stenchion and James Davies, to come in. We have got competition for places right across the board.”
Hawks’ medical staff will check on Michael Haley (dead leg) and Jamaine Akaidere, but neither injury is believed to be serious.