Hunslet Hawks Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@Chapalar)
The Cougars came into this Kingstone Press Championship fixture against the Hunslet Hawks as favourites against a side who haven’t won since the end of April.
Following the victory over Doncaster RL two weeks previous, Paul March made three changes. James Feather returned to take the place of Joe Parkinson, Buster goes into the thirteen with Sean Kelly dropping down to the interchanges. Joe Chandler returns from illness to take the place of Danny Lawton amongst the interchanges. Ryan Patchett comes in for an ill Jode Sheriffe in the other change from the Doncaster victory.
The game couldn’t of got off to a worse start by the Cougars as they were forced to defend right from the off as they held Lee Brickwood short off the line before a needless penalty by Scott Leatherbarrow allowed the Hawks another chance to score in which they did as a Tom Haughey wild pass fell kindly into the hands of Andrew Yates who collapsed over the line before David March, twin brother of Paul, added the extras.
The Hawks continued to pressurise the Cougars with twin brothers David and Paul sharing some fisticuffs on the Cougars line before another silly penalty by the Cougars bang in front of the posts saw David take the opportunity to extend the lead as he successfully kicked the two.
The Cougars then took their turn to attack the men from South Leeds line with Sean Hesketh was held up just short off the line before the Cougars began to keep the ball alive which led to Scott Leatherbarrow playing a little grubber kick across the solid Cougar Park surface for Brendon Rawlins to pounce on to bring the Cougars on the scoreboard. Scott Leatherbarrow then proceeded to add the extras.
The Cougars then took advantage of a now fragile Hunslet defence to take the lead for the first time on the afternoon as from another Paul March play the ball, Scott Law, who had only been on the field for a matter of seconds collected the pass and fought his way through three Hawks defenders to give the Cougars a four point lead from a Scott Leatherbarrow conversion.
After nearly crossing again through Daley Williams, the Cougars surrendered the lead back to Hunslet after some poor defensive work. Thomas Coyle, one of the Coyle brothers in the halves for the visitors broke through and when he came one on one with Danny Jones he opted to offload to team mate James Watson who crossed underneath the sticks allowing David March to convert with ease.
The Hawks nearly found themselves in again under similar fashion from the restart as this time James Coyle broke through the Cougars defensive line and after a clever offload to second rower John Oakes who then opted to offload to Thomas Coyle who spilt the ball when it seemed easier to finish off the move and extend the Hawks lead.
The Cougars then finished the half the stronger of the two outfits and could have took the lead going into the break following a grubber kick by Scott Leatherbarrow but Thomas Coyle just put in enough pace to beat both Scotty and Danny Jones to the ball making sure his side took the spoils going into the half time interval.
With the temperatures beginning to soar at Cougar Park, the second half really did take it’s tole on the Hunslet Hawks side as they had to attack up the slope on the Lawkholme Lane surface. And they nearly threw away their advantage in the opening stages off the half as young hooker Sean Kelly fought his way over the line but was held up by the defence off the men from South Leeds.
But then the Hawks took advantage of penalties which were stupidly conceded by the Cougars in a dominant ten minute spell towards the Petrol Station end off the ground as David March converted three times.
The first saw the Hawks captain convert following the referee’s decision to punish Scott Law for offside from the play the ball. Then, Paul converted once again after the referee ruled that Sean Kelly had stolen the ball in the tackle from Luke Menzies when it looked like the prop forward had knocked on before the third and final penalty conversion came as Danny Jones was penalised for dissent by the man with the whistle.
The Cougars then took grasp of the game by the throat to dominate with a Hawks error seeing James Haley bring the gap between the sides down to two points after he touched down following a kick along the dry Cougar Park pitch by Scott Leatherbarrow. However, the try was only awarded after the match officials had a conversation as the Hawks players were claiming a suspicious knock on by Danny Jones in the balls movement to the Cougars centre.
The Hawks were starting to fall apart as David March’s restart went straight out onto the fall presenting the Cougars with a penalty from half way and the Hawks won a quick scrum following an error by Buster but the Cougars won the ball back immediately before the sides began to exchange blows as they would throughout the encounter.
The Cougars then went onto extend their lead as the Cougars made their way up the field following the penalty that came about due to the fisticuffs between the two sides. As they got onto the Hawks line, the Cougars developed some fantastic passing play with Paul March and Danny Jones showing some fantastic ball handling skills as Elliott Cosgrove collected the pass to cross in the corner, however, Scott Leatherbarrow failed to add the extras.
The Cougars slowly made their way up the field in an attempt to extend the lead but a knock on by Danny Jones just metres from the line as he looked to cross the try line but with the Hunslet Hawks support getting vocal as their team seemed to lose all energy in the scorching heat, there were roars of outrage from the Cougars fan base as James Haley had his eyes gouged in the challenge by Hawks star Tommy Haughey which left the centre down injured.
A Hawks spillage on the Cougars line allowed Andy Shickell to break for the Cougars in an attack which saw them extend their lead even further over Barry Eaton’s charges. Paul March led his side down the field in attack before a defensive line break saw James Feather race thirty metres avoiding onrushing Hawks full back James Watson to cross the line before Scott Leatherbarrow converted to open up an eight point gap which would clinch the three points for the Cougars.
The final five minutes off the game descended into madness with three separate incidents of fighting taking place on the Cougar Park pitch. Andy Shickell and Matthew Tebb exchanged blows on half way before the ‘Shicky Monster’ was the victim of some extremely rough treatment that would take over the latter stages off the game.
All twenty six players on the field then became involved in a mass brawl as David March and James Feather began exchanging blows with a two minute delay to the game before the official, Warren Turley, placed the incident on report. But these weren’t the last of the fisticuffs between the sides as just a matter of seconds later some more rough treatment by the Hawks, this time off Scott Law, saw the sides exchange blows once again with James Watson being sin binned before departing to jeers much to the full back’s amusement before the game was brought to an end.
Yorkshire Times Cougars Man of the Match – Scott Law – ‘Judge’ put in an absolutely awesome shift off the interchanges bench. He made an immediate impact on the game after scoring the Cougars second try off the afternoon just a matter of seconds after entering play. He proceeded to put in the man of the match performance, constantly putting in tackles and big hits in defence whilst playing a crucial role in metre making whilst in attack. Awesome effort by the prop forward as well as the rest of the Cougars outfit.
Cougars: Jones, Williams, Cosgrove, Haley, White, March, Leatherbarrow, Shickell, Feather, Hesketh, Pursglove, Lynam, Rawlins. Interchanges: Law, Kelly, Chandler, Patchett.
Hawks: Watson, Pryce, Brickwood, Welham, Kain, T Coyle, J Coyle, Yates, Hood, Haley, Oakes, Haughey, March. Interchanges: Haigh, Menzies, Mapals, Tebb.