Hunslet overcame a first-half deficit of 16-6 to secure a remarkable victory against a spirited North Wales Crusaders team at Chester RUFC. The Crusaders, forced to play at Chester’s venue due to a venue change from Colwyn Bay, faced an uncertain start to the game following a serious injury in a Ladies match earlier in the day. Fortunately, after receiving prompt medical attention, the injured player was treated, allowing the scheduled match to proceed as planned.
Despite an early opportunity for the home side when Hunslet fumbled a kick, the Parksiders’ solid defence held firm, and it was they who took the lead in the 9th minute. Adam Ryder came close to scoring after Myles Lawford’s kick caused chaos, and the skilful half-back continued to make significant gains before Aaron York released a pass for Beharrell, who found Jack Render in the corner. The score stood at 0-6.
However, the momentum shifted in the 12th minute when Josh Lynch blatantly knocked the ball on but was allowed to play on by the referee. Seizing the opportunity, Lynch dashed 60 yards to score, and with Billsborough’s successful conversion, the scores were level at 6-6.
From that point on, the Crusaders dominated the game. Despite having numerous sets wiped out, they managed to force a drop-out and eventually found a gap for Kieran Taylor to score in the 20th minute, taking the lead to 10-6.
Hunslet struggled to gain possession, relying on last-ditch tackles from Render and Watson to prevent certain tries by Reid and Hazzard. Although Spencer Darley came close to scoring for Hunslet, Crusaders’ loose forward Matt Fletcher was deemed just short of the try line.
However, in the final minute of the first half, the home side extended their lead as Pat Rainford sneaked over from dummy half after Crusaders regained possession when a Hunslet player made an attempt for a kick. With Billsborough successfully converting, Crusaders led 16-6 at halftime, leaving Hunslet with a daunting task to turn the game around.
If Hunslet hoped to mount a comeback, they needed to score quickly, and that is exactly what happened. Strong running from forwards Spencer Darley and Marcus Green set up a favourable field position for Myles Lawford, who sent Sam Hallas over for a try. Beharrell converted, reducing the deficit to 16-12.
Alfie Goddard made a crucial try-saving tackle, keeping Hunslet within striking distance. Then, in the 51st minute, a skillful pass from Matthew Beharrell found Josh Jordan-Roberts, who touched down beside the posts. With Beharrell’s successful conversion, Hunslet seized the lead at 16-18.
Hunslet had been strong in the second half throughout the season, displaying renewed vigor after halftime. Now that they had the lead, it was vital for them to maintain their dominance. While Crusaders still posed a threat, with a potential attack on the left, Hunslet’s defence held firm. In the 64th minute, Beharrell broke through the Crusaders’ line and set up Sam Hallas for his second try of the day, comfortably converted by Beharrell, bringing the score to 16-24.
At this point, victory seemed beyond North Wales’ reach. Their hopes were further dashed when Jimmy Watson exploited a gap on the 72nd minute, after Beharrell and Knowles combined brilliantly, making the scoreline an insurmountable 16-30.
The Lawford-Beharrell half-back partnership proved effective, with Beharrell excelling in his kicking duties, converting all five attempts. Crusaders suffered a blow when Bradley Billsborough was sin-binned, reducing them to 12 men. Hunslet made another near miss through Alfie Goddard, but the Crusaders had the final say as Josh Lynch intercepted a Beharrell pass and sprinted 60 yards to score his second try of the day.
This victory showcased Hunslet’s improvement from last season, thanks to a formidable half-back pairing, a standout performance from Jimmy Watson, and powerful running from forwards such as Steve Crossley, Harvey Hallas, and Josh Jordan-Roberts, who created opportunities for the backs to exploit. Sam Hallas was awarded the Hunslet Ex-players Association Man of the Match, as chosen by his teammates, while brothers Olly and Joe Burton also had impressive performances.