North Wales Crusaders v Hunslet – Gary Thornton tells players to take taunts ‘on the chin’

TABLE-TOPPING HUNSLET’S players have been urged to “take it on the chin” if opposition teams try to wind them up.

Friday, 15th March 2019, 8:28 am
Updated Friday, 15th March 2019, 8:33 am
Reece Dean has been cleared to play after avoiding a red-card suspension. PIC: Jim Fitton/JPIMedia

Three games in, Hunslet have yet to keep 13 players on the field for the whole of a competitive fixture this season.

So far they have coped well, picking up two wins in Betfred League One and easing past West Bowling in the Coral Challenge Cup a week ago, but coach Gary Thornton knows numbers will count against his team eventually if the trend continues.

“It is an issue for me,” Thornton admitted of the spate of cards issued to his side. It is certainly something we’ve got to be aware of.

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“We’ve been down to 12 or 11 men every time we’ve played this year. We need to be playing with 13 men on the field, especially against the better teams.”

Thornton added: “They are annoying incidents, it is retaliation more than anything. The players have got to learn to take it on the chin, so to speak, so they are not getting involved in petty stuff.

“It is about the players being mentally tougher in those situations.”

It will be all hands on deck when the Parksiders take their 100 per cent record to North Wales Crusaders tomorrow (3pm).

Hunslet coach, Gary Thornton.

Thornton admitted it is “not one I look forward to on the fixture calendar”, but reckons Hunslet are in confident mood and a tougher proposition now than when they came unstuck there in previous seasons.

“We’ve found it tough to go there over the last few years,” he recalled. “It is a small pitch and they are a big team who play it well.

“They do take some breaking down on their try line because they defend the small pitch quite well, but we have got to be confident. We have got a different group of players to the one we’ve had before and we are going there in good form.”

Michael Haley has been cleared of a fractured cheekbone, but is set for a two-week lay-off. Richard Moore (concussion) has been ruled out and Duane Straugheir and Ben Heaton face late fitness tests.

Reece Dean is available after avoiding a ban for his red card in the win over West Wales two weeks ago.