Hunslet Hawks face big step up in class against Leigh Centurions

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Boss Barry Eaton admits his Hunslet Hawks team face a massive step up in class tomorrow.

Hawks have won both their opening Northern Rail Cup ties, against Whitehaven and Swinton, but will meet a far tougher test away to Leigh Centurions.

Leigh finished second in the Championship last year, five places above Hunslet, but lost 23-22 at Sheffield last week after leading 22-0 at one stage.

Eaton said: “We are playing against one of the teams that are fancied to be up there at the top of the table.

“We are expecting it to be really tough and there’s going to be another 20-25 per cent on top of that, because they let a big lead go last week – and we’re fully expecting a backlash.”

But Eaton is “happy” with how his team have begun the season. He added: “There’s still areas of our game we need to work on and improve, but to win our first two games is pleasing and the players are working hard.”

Eaton will select from last weekend’s squad, plus Gareth Davies, Joe Pickets and Neil Lowe.

Meanwhile, Neil Hampshire has been confirmed as Hawks’ new chairman. Hampshire is a committee member of the HIST supporters’ trust which now runs the club.

Hunslet Hawks (at Leigh) from: Ratcliffe, Kain, Clayton, Nathaniel, Brickwood, Helliwell, Allan, Yates, Haigh, Lewis, Blakeway, Oates, March, McLocklan, Dooler, Tootill, Benjafield, Picketts, Davies, Lowe.

Referee: Clive Leatherbarrow (St Helens). Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.

Full-back Jimmy Watson scored a hat-trick of tries in the 32-18 win over Gloucestershire All Golds.

Kingstone Press Championship/League 1 Shields: Hunslet and Rams run up big scores as Bulldogs lose healthy lead