HUNSLET HAWKS bowed out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup with pride intact yesterday.
Super League visitors Salford Red Devils were too good and 50-14 was a fair reflection of the fifth round tie, but Hawks – from League One – had a real go.
Trailing 32-8 at the break, they competed with Salford – who admittedly got sloppy – after that and lost the second half only 18-6.
Oldham’s win at Hull KR a day earlier did Hunslet no favours. It ensured Salford, who fielded a strong line-up, were fully focused from the start and three tries in the opening nine minutes meant there was never any prospect of an upset.
But some Hawks players are young enough to have Super League aspirations and several of them did catch the eye.
Ex-Leeds academy full-back Jimmy Watson made two try-saving tackles during Salford’s opening burst of scoring and halves Danny Thomas and Danny Ansell also had good moments.
Hunslet could not match the full-timers physically, but they had lots of enthusiasm, highlighted when George Flanagan, Ansell and Ben Crane ganged up to shove Jake Bibby into touch.
Hawks have two good hookers and Jake Normington and Mufaro Mvududu also showed up well.
Hunslet scored two tries in the first period. Jack Lee went over from acting-half on 21 minutes and replacement hooker George Flanagan threw a huge dummy to do likewise just before the break.
The hosts’ third try came 12 minutes from time when James Duckworth out-jumped Bibby to collect Ansell’s excellent cross-kick.
The tries were unconverted, but Ansell kicked a penalty with six minutes left.
There were other chances. Flanagan and Mufaro Mvududu both got over the line, but were held up in the second half.
Duckworth intercepted a pass by Matt Sarsfield to cross, but that was on the free play after Michael Haley’s knock-on and Thomas touched down from Flanagan’s kick to the in-goal, but Robert Lui had grounded the ball first.
Thomas also had an opportunity when he dashed clear from a brilliant off-load by Lewis Reed, but his wild off-load near the line went to Neal Evalds.
Hunslet were caught napping by Salford’s fast start and trailed 16-0 early on to tries by Ryan Lannon, Bibby and Josh Griffin.
Salford added another three touchdowns before the break. Griffin scored his second, Josh Wood stepped through for a superb solo score and Lui also went over.
The full-time side eased up after the break, but Lui added his second 10 minutes into the second half, Bibby also crossed and Griffin completed his hat-trick in the final moments, which was pretty harsh on Hunslet.
Salford Red Devils have separate kickers for the left and right sides of the field. Michael Dobson landed three conversions and Gareth O’Brien converted four.
Hunslet Hawks: Watson, Duckworth, Faal, Mvududu, Barnett, Thomas, Ansell, Haley, Lee, Reed, Crane, Normington, Mackay. Subs Flanagan. Bell, Robinson, Williams.
Salford Red Devils: O’Brien, Evalds, Sau, J Griffin, Bibby, Lui, Dobson, A Walne, Wood, Joseph, J Walne, Sarsfield, Lannon. Subs Krasniqi, Hauraki, Jones, Haggarty.
Referee: Chris Campbell (Widnes).