Hunslet’s head coach, Alan Kilshaw, expressed his relief after his team’s hard-fought 22-18 triumph over Workington Town, acknowledging that it was their worst performance of the year. Despite their shortcomings, Kilshaw maintained unwavering confidence in his team, stating, “I never felt we would lose.”
The match began with Hunslet taking an early 12-point lead thanks to tries from Sean Croston and captain Steve Crossley. Croston’s try came after Alfie Goddard forcefully dispossessed an opponent, while Crossley powered over the line following a smart pass from Matty Beharrell. Workington Town managed to recover, narrowing the scoreline to 12-10 with a solo effort by Ciaran Walker and a try in the corner by Sean Sabutey. Walker successfully converted his own try, but his subsequent conversion attempt hit the post.
Walker levelled the scores with a penalty before Crossley exploited a significant gap in Workington’s defence to score another try, courtesy of Beharrell’s pinpoint pass. Beharrell’s conversion gave Hunslet an 18-12 lead at halftime.
As the hour mark approached, Beharrell added a penalty, extending Hunslet’s advantage to eight points. Workington’s Joe Kirkup was sin-binned for a crusher tackle, leaving his team a man down. Town, however, fought back into the contest when Sabutey managed to squeeze in a try at the corner. Walker’s successful conversion reduced Hunslet’s lead to a mere two points.
Hunslet secured a four-point cushion with Beharrell’s second penalty, converting all five of his attempts throughout the match. In a thrilling finale, Workington created an opportunity for Sabutey to level the scores, but he spilled the ball while diving over the try line, costing his team the chance to kick for an equalising conversion with just four minutes remaining.
Reflecting on the game, Coach Kilshaw commented, “Even if Sabutey had scored that try, and even if the subsequent conversion had been successful, I still feel we would have found a way to win.” He expressed confidence in his team’s experienced players, praising their resilience and their ability to perform under pressure.
Kilshaw acknowledged that despite deserving the victory, Hunslet’s early 12-point lead may have led to complacency, resulting in wastefulness with the ball and an incomplete set of twelve. Nonetheless, he believed his team should have scored two or three more tries, mentioning missed opportunities by Josh Jordan-Roberts and Adam Ryder, who both came close to crossing the try line.
The Hunslet coach also disputed the legitimacy of Workington’s second try, believing that Sabutey did not ground the ball properly. Regardless, he emphasised the significance of the win, as it marked Hunslet’s first league victory against another “heartland” club in over a year, since their triumph at Workington in September 2021. Kilshaw noted only minor injuries to Beharrell (shoulder) and Harvey Hallas (knee), assuring that the team had otherwise remained unscathed.
In conclusion, Hunslet’s subpar performance did not deter them from securing a crucial victory, maintaining their position in the promotion race for the Betfred League 1. Despite the obstacles faced, Coach Kilshaw’s unwavering belief in his team ultimately proved well-founded.