HUNSLET HAWKS can look forward to games against Bradford Bulls and London Broncos next season after winning promotion to the Kingstone Press Championship in the most dramatic fashion possible yesterday.
Thomas Coyle’s drop goal six minutes into golden point extra-time shattered Oldham after the Championship One Grand Final at Headingley Carnegie had been deadlocked at 16-16 after 80 minutes. Coyle and Oldham’s Steven Roper missed with one-point attempts in sudden-death before Liam Hood made a break up the middle and was tackled by George Tyson. The ball was turned back to Danny Ansell and though he was closed down, he got a pass away to Coyle and the man of the match stand-off landed the winning kick.
It was a fantastic victory for Hawks, who were relegated last year and finished second in the league table behind York City Knights, but tough on third-placed Oldham, who are serial losers at this stage of the year.
They led 10-6 at the break, despite being put under huge pressure by Hunslet – who gave a debut to forward Luke Hardbottle – in the opening 40.
Oldham opened the scoring after five minutes when stand-off Steven Roper began and finishing a move also involving Jon Ford and Josh Crowley. Roper added the extras.
Video referees Phil Bentham and Ian Smith twice ruled against Hawks, when Ford dropped the ball behind his own line, but then managed to ground it before Ansell touched down; then Jimmy Watson scooted over, but lost the ball in Steve Nield’s last-gasp tackle.
On 22 minutes Coyle’s inside pass found David March and the veteran broke clear before providing the final pass for Watson.
March’s conversion levelled the scores, but Oldham regained the lead 10 minutes before the interval with a stunning try. Roper’s kick to the corner was acrobatically taken by Ford and his superb offload found Dale Bloomfield, who got the ball down over the line.
Hawks were level again six minutes into the second half, when James Duckworth – one of seven past or present Leeds Rhinos players in the Hunslet 17 – dived over at the corner from Hood’s blindside pass. And on 54 the south Leeds side finally hit the front through a brilliant solo try by Coyle, who threw a dummy and evaded a posse of defenders on a thrilling surge to the line, improved by March.
Ansell was wide with a drop goal attempt – after Hood had got in the way to foil a dangerous Oldham break – then Richard Moore showed why he’s a front-rower not a half-back by scuffing an attempted one-pointer after Hood’s searing break had been halted by Tyson.
Hunslet had a scare when Duffy spilled a bomb and Gary Owen almost got over from the scrum, but the video referees spotted the ball come loose in Watson and Michael Haley’s combined tackle.
But with seven minutes left Roper carved out a try for Danny Langtree and then kept his nerve to level the scores with his kick, though Hawks were agonisingly close to winning it when Ansell’s drop goal attempt hit a post and bounced out.
Hunslet Hawks: Watson, Duffy, Maun, Brickwood, Duckworth, T Coyle, Ansell, Moore, March, Houston, Oakes, Lyons, Briscoe. Subs (all used) Hood, Haley, Kain, Hardbottle.
Oldham: Nield, Clay, Cookson, Ford, Bloomfield, Palfrey, Roper, Joy, Owen, Boults, Crowley, Langtree, Thompson. Subs (all used) Ward, Mason, Hughes, Tyson.
Referee: Joe Cobb (Leigh).