Featherstone Rovers 52 Hunslet 6: Hunslet’s limitations highlighted by Rovers

Hunslet's Josh Nathanial is tackled by Anthony Thackery and Michael Knowles. PIC: James Hardisty
Hunslet's Josh Nathanial is tackled by Anthony Thackery and Michael Knowles. PIC: James Hardisty
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NEW-LOOK HUNSLET were given an indication of how much work lies ahead as they were crushed 52-6 by Featherstone Rovers in the Gareth Swift memorial match.

Rovers’ Kingstone Press Championship campaign starts in less than a month’s time and they looked well on course, scoring 10 tries in a dominant display.

Former Wakefield and Castleford forward Frankie Mariano bagged a brace for the hosts, whose line-up included fellow recruits Jason Walton, Keal Carlile and Michael Knowles, plus Luke Briscoe and James Duckworth, who were with them last year on loan.

Josh Hardcastle – one of two trialists in the team, alongside Aaron Lyons – also crossed twice, as he did in the Boxing-Day win at Halifax.

Encouragingly, winger Scott Turner and scrum-half Matty Wildie both continued their return from long-term injury with good performances and were also among the try scorers. Luke Briscoe (2), Ian Hardman and Kyran Johnson were Rovers’ other try scorers, with Johnson kicking five goals and Hardman one.

Hunslet face cup action in February, but do not begin their League-One season until early March. They looked far from match ready and recruits Omar Alrawi, Cameron Leeming, Jack Norfolk, Joe Sanderson, Nyle Flynn and Jack Walton, plus Jack Coventry, who has signed after a 2016 loan spell, had little opportunity to show what they can do.

After opening the scoring, Hunslet were under almost constant pressure. They defended spiritedly to keep the score to 18-6 at the break, but ran out of steam in the second half.

Other than their try, George Flanagan dummying over from acting-half and Sanderson converting, they had only one clear chance when Jimmy Watson went close to touching down Danny Ansell’s kick.

Rovers coach Jon Sharp felt Hunslet performed better than the scoreline suggests and was happy with his team’s display.

“They made it a really good competition for 60 minutes,” he said. “In the first half I thought we were poor with the ball and over-played a bit.

“But once it started to click and the pressure of our defence started to take its toll and we got a bit more ball and played with a bit more composure, I thought the level of skill was excellent.”

It was James Coyle’s first game as Hunslet boss.

“It was a start point for us, to give us an idea where we’re at,” he said.

“I thought we did some good stuff up until 30 minutes, we competed and defended quite well. I was quite happy with that, but if you let a good team like Featherstone build pressure and you make errors at key times, they’re going to make you pay for it.”

Yesterday’s game was an annual fixture in memory Gareth Swift, a 19-year-old Rovers player, who died following a road accident in April, 2010.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Duckworth, Jason Walton, Hardcastle, Turner, Thackeray, Wildie, Griffin, Carlile, Cooper, Knowles, Mariano, Tagg. Subs Day, Briscoe, Johnson, Lyons, Bostock.

Hunslet: Watson, Alrawi, Leeming, Norfolk, Nathaniel, Sanderson, Ansell, Reed, Flanagan, Coventry, Mackay, Wilson, Flynn. Subs Thomas, Jack Walton, Kenga, Bell, Normington, Tebb, Williams.

Referee: Jonathan Roberts (Leeds).

Attendance: 1,283.