HUNSLET SALVAGED something from a disappointing season by beating London Skolars 32-12 in the Kingstone Press League One Shield final.
The Shield is a consolation competition for teams who miss out on the top-eight and Hunslet didn’t want to be involved.
Tenth on the League One ladder was a poor effort for an established club, but Hunslet won six of their seven extra fixtures to top the Shield table and played well to see off a resolute Skolars team in yesterday’s final at South Leeds Stadium.
It was tighter than the scoreline suggests, but two tries in three minutes either side of the break were crucial and Skolars were kept scoreless in the second half, despite Hunslet’s Lewis Reed being sin-binned 12 minutes from time.
Mufaro Mvududu and Jack Walton led the way for Hunslet and Joe Sanderson and George Flanagan were also influential, but coach Gary Thornton was pleased with the team effort.
He said: “I think we’ve been really good in the Shield.
“I have to commend the boys, their attitude has been first class.
“We were massively disappointed about being outside the top-eight but they have knuckled down and worked really hard. We’ve turned a negative into a positive and that’s really pleasing.”
Liam Mackay opened Hunslet’s account after 11 minutes, pouncing on a clever kick by Joel Gibson, but Skolars levelled almost immediately when Lamont Bryan forced his way over.
A terrific solo try by Flanagan, who dipped a shoulder and sliced through the defence from acting-half, re-established the hosts’ lead, but Michael Brown crossed from a break and excellent pass by Lameck Junor and Jy-mel Coleman’s second conversion squared the scores.
On the stroke of half-time James Duckworth squeezed over at the corner from Mvududu’s pass and Sanderson landed a superb goal – his third – off the touchline.
Then two minutes after the break Mvududu’s powerful run set up the field position for Danny Ansell – who had replaced the injured Gibson – to send Mackay over for his second.
Skolars missed an opportunity to get back into the game when David Williams dropped the ball over Hunslet’s line. Sanderson booted a penalty after a foul on Flanagan in front of the posts and then landed a huge kick from half-way after the Skolars’ restart didn’t go 10 metres.
In the final seconds Duckworth cruised over after a ball steal by Sanderson whose conversion completed the scoring.
Hunslet: Watson, Duckworth, Mvududu, Leeming, Webb, Gibson, Sanderson, Haley, Flanagan, Reed, Mackay, Danny Williams, Walton. Subs Roberts, Ansell, Kenga, Walton.
London Skolars: Bishay, S Junor, Allinson, L Junor, Brown, Coleman, Sykes, lawrence, Bryan, David Williams, Mbaraga, Butler. Subs Lyon, Greenhalgh, Chester, Robinson.
Referee: Nick Bennett (Sheffield).