Newcastle Thunder 18 – 32 Hunslet RLFC

Newcastle Thunder’s run of four games without loss was brought to a close by Hunslet at Kingston Park Stadium on Sunday afternoon, after a disappointing afternoon in Betfred League 1.

It was a match in which Thunder were unable to find a fluency in attack, whilst almost every error was punished to maximum effect by the opposition.

A trio of penalties against the visitors gave Thunder a strong opening to the half, with a potent attack set seeing the hosts go close on two separate occasions as Conor Fitzsimmons found himself held up over the line and Alex Clegg beaten by the roll of the ball while chasing a kick through.

It was however one of few high points for Simon Finnigan’s side as Hunslet seized control of the fixture.

Opening the scoring through James Saltonstall, a late hit from Thunder prop Liam McAvoy not only saw Thunder reduced to 12-men as he saw yellow but Reece Dean opt for a shot at goal which, with a strong wind at his back, he made with ease.

Struggling to find cohesion in their runs, the afternoon was almost perfectly summed up when after Misi Taulapapa made a searing break from deep in his own half, the eagerness to keep the tempo going resulted in a knock on at the play the ball handing back possession.

Compounding the error with a penalty, it gave the visitors the platform from which to attack at pace and move the ball with to play James Woodburn-Hall in for a try.  

When Thunder’s Kieran Gill was held up over the line with two minutes to go, it looked like the home side were at least getting a foothold into the game, but with a knock-on whilst trying to play themselves up field, it was the cough up of possession needed for the visitors to score a third try of the day.

Despite making an improved start to the second forty, the theme of Thunder’s day continued as Hunslet extended their lead fifteen minutes in as they made the most of the territory gained from an interception on their own line.

Chasing a 20-point deficit, Thunder enjoyed their best spell of the game as the hour mark approached with two quick scores coming of their best rugby of the day.

First up, Gill finished off a superb break made by Taulapapa as the Samoan cut his way inside and out of Hunslet’s defensive line, before a strong fend by Clegg on Newcastle’s next attacking set allowed thoughts of a fightback to be entertained.

They were extinguished as quickly as they formed though as Newcastle’s inability to prevent an offload saw Saltonstall go in for his second. 

A moment of individual skill from Lewis Young saw Thunder’s fullback grab his side’s third try of the afternoon as he kicked a loose ball between the legs of his opposite number and gathered to score, but it was little more than a consolation in a game that the hosts had misfired.

As if to underline that point, Hunslet managed a final converted try as Gill attempted to block a fifth-tackle kick but instead saw the ball bounce into the hands Gareth Potts for a clear run to the line.

Newcastle Thunder

Lewis Young, Misi Taulapapa, Joe Brown, Kieran Kill, Alex Clegg, Dan Coates, Remy Marginet, Liam McAvoy, Keal Carlile, Jared Blanke, Conor Fitzsimmons, Tyler Craig, Joel Edwards, Evan Simons, Jack Aldous, Carne Doyle-Manga, Aaron Ollett

Tries: Gill (58), Clegg (63), Young (71)

Goals: Coates 3/3

Sinbin: McAvoy (17) – Late tackle

Hunslet RLFC

James Woodburn-Hall, Gareth Potts, Ben Heaton, Nathan Chappell, James Saltonstall, Reece Dean, Cain Southernwood, Zach Braham, Jack Lee, Adam Robinson. Josh Tonks, Duane Straugheir, Micheal Emmett, Vila Halafihi, Rory Dixon, Michael Haley, Charles Martin

Tries: Saltonstall (13, 65), Woodburn Hal (27) Chappel (39, 55) Potts (79)

Goals: Dean 4/7

Penalty count: 3-12

Half-time: 0-16

Referee: Tom Crashley 

Attendance: 624