AN EMOTIONAL Hunslet Hawks coach Matt Bramald was proud of his part-time players following their 50-14 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup defeat by Salford Red Devils.
The League One side competed strongly for long periods and scoring three tries against top-flight opposition ensured they were out but not down when the final whistle sounded.
“My overriding emotion is pride,” Bramald said afterwards. “You see so many of these games where lower-league teams get blown apart in the last 20 minutes or so and the scoreline then doesn’t reflect the game.
“The scoreline probably did reflect the game and the dominance Salford had, but my players had a real dig.
“They had a real go and that’s what I asked of them. I got quite emotional after the game, but pride is a good emotion to feel.
“I told them I wanted them to be able to look each other in the eye after going out there and giving everything they’ve got.
“I think they did. Players like Robert Lui will do the things he did out there against far more professional, well-drilled and better conditioned teams than ours, so I don’t feel too bad about that.
“There were some areas I think we could have been better at, but I am really proud.”
Salford, who are ninth in Super League, led 16-0 after just nine minutes and Bramald admitted his team were “caught in the headlights” early on.
But Hunslet conceded only 18 points in the second half – scoring six themselves – and the coach was delighted with how strongly they finished the game.
He said: “Their players will be ice-bathing and re-habbing in the morning when my blokes are running around building sites or driving round the country. They are going to be fitter and better conditioned than we are, so it was really pleasing we were able to come home and look the stronger team in those last sets.”
Bramald said the challenge now is to take similar form into Hawks’ league campaign.
“If we can take that kind of intent, desire and effort into our league games I don’t think we will go far wrong,” he said.
Salford coach Ian Watson said: “Hunslet did really well. I wasn’t surprised, I knew they would come at us.”
He added: “I pre-warned the team about that and the fact they had experienced dummy-halves in Jack Lee and George Flanagan.
“They were the main guys who were causing us problems around the ruck.”