Hunslet v Whitehaven: Thornton ready for ‘massive’ clash

Hunslet head coach, Gary Thornton. PIC: Richard Long
Hunslet head coach, Gary Thornton. PIC: Richard Long
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TODAY’S REARRANGED visit of Whitehaven (3pm) is “huge” for improving Hunslet, coach Gary Thornton admits.

Hunslet have won their last two Betfred League One matches, including a club record 86-0 thrashing of West Wales Raiders six days ago.

They are eighth in the table, one place and two points behind today’s visitors, but now only two points outside the semi-finals places.

The 2018 league leaders will be promoted and the next four teams on the table are set to play off for the other place in next season’s Championship.

’Haven, who stunned second-placed York City Knights 26-18 last weekend, are among Hunslet’s main rivals in that race and and Thornton insisted: “It’s a massive game, especially being at home.”

He said: “We’ve already slipped up twice at home, against Keighley and York and we don’t want to be losing another home game.

“If we win it will close the gap between us and the top-five clubs, which is where we want to be.

“We’ve identified a few games as being critical and having had a pretty tough run up to here it’s important we start picking some wins up.

“We are approaching the halfway stage and everyone will be thinking the same thing.”

Whitehaven are in a similar situation and Thornton reckons it is a tough time to play them.

“They will be on a high,” he predicted.

“It’s a much tougher proposition than last week.

“There’s no room for complacency and we have got to be really at the races.

“We have got to make sure we are on our game defensively.

“They are a massive side and we have to defend well and make sure we take our chances when they come along, but we are going into it reasonably confident.”

Hunslet have tended to finish games strongly after going behind early on.

Thornton stressed consistency over the 80 minutes is crucial today – and for the rest of the campaign.

“We can’t afford to be giving teams a start,” he warned.

“We did that against York and it cost us the game.”

Liam Mackay is set to return for Hunslet, but they are without Matty Nicholson who is suspended.