Hunslet vs Cornwall – Match Report
June 19, 2023
Cornwall RLFC delivered yet another encouraging showing against a Betfred League 1 promotion contender, but a combination of injury, enforced errors and a curious refereeing call saw Mike Abbott’s men succumb 36-6 to Hunslet.
In a bruising encounter against the promotion chasing Parksiders, the away team found themselves very much in the game during its early stages. No quarter was given by either side as converted tries were traded before one-time Cornwall loanee Joe Burton nudged Hunslet ahead after 27 minutes.
The hosts, who strengthened their already powerful squad with two loan signings from Championship side Bradford pre-match, saw Miles Lawford, one of those temporary recruits, put Alan Kilshaw’s charges in a strong position with a third converted try six minutes later.
Cornwall’s hopes then took a turn for the worse when captain Liam Whitton was sent to sinbin by merry whistle blower Andrew Sweet for a professional foul.
Down a man, Cornwall conceded again just after the interval and two further scores in the final 15 minutes meant the two competition points would be staying in South Leeds.
But Cornwall never raised the white flag and finished the game well. It appeared that the visitors had grabbed a second try in the final 60 seconds but referee Sweet decided to not award Luke Collins’ effort because of a melee after the ball had been touched down.
Hooker Collins, who was outstanding throughout for the Choughs, was left with a bloodied face after the incident which saw home interchange Lewis Wray appear to throw a punch.
However, the referee, who was excellently placed for the incident, which took place under the sticks, didn’t award the try initially and after consulting with his flag waver Will Gilder, who himself didn’t have a clear view of proceedings, then awarded a penalty to Hunslet.
Play didn’t restart as the final hooter then sounded and tempered between both sides also frayed afterwards too. Once calm was restored, Hunslet would have reflected on the fact they had been given a stern test whilst for the visitors, it was a case of what might have been again.
Collins’ no try incident saw the match and the day as a whole for Cornwall end just like it had started – in frustrating fashion.
Before the side had set off from their team hotel to Hunslet’s home venue, they were dealt a blow when Jake Lloyd fell ill and was initially ruled out of the starting line-up. A reshuffle saw Ewan Badham take Lloyd’s place at loose forward with Decarlo Trerise moving up to interchange from 18th man.
But further late Cornwall changes were then needed as Adam Rusling turned his ankle in the warm-up and was forced to withdraw. Trerise was now starting on the wing and Harry Aaronson moved to the halves.
A clearly unwell Lloyd bravely took Trerise’s place on the bench with 18th man Paul Bolger unable to move to the match 17. In effect, this left Cornwall a man light before the game had even kicked off.
Lloyd, who has been an ever-present so far for Cornwall this year and one of the side’s most consistent performers, deserves huge credit for his brave actions and due to further injuries, was thrust into the fray during the final 10 minutes.
Despite all the pre-game upheaval, the club regonised Tom Ashton’s 100th career game before play got underway as he received a signed shirt and framed memento from the club.
The powerhouse centre, playing against one of his former clubs, was outstanding throughout for a Cornwall side who fell behind after just three minutes.
The two teams both completed their early sets before centre Adam Ryder crashed over to score. Matthew Beharell, who ended the match with a perfect record from the tee, knocked over the first of six successful attempts.
But Cornwall, buoyed by their endeavours against table toppers Dewsbury Rams seven days previously, responded in kind shortly after. Australian halfback Cameron Brown ran across the home defence before he found the onrushing David Weetman who made no mistake.
This was the third time Weetman had crossed the whitewash in just five games since he linked up with the Choughs last month. Brown, who took over the kicking duties in Rusling’s absence, knocked over the extra two points.
The next 20 minutes of play were even after the early scores as excellent goal line defence from Cornwall kept Hunslet at bay. The home rearguard was equally as watertight as chances to score were kept to a premium.
Something had to give eventually and it was Hunslet who managed to score that all-important second try through Joe Burton with an effort close to Cornwall’s line.
With the scoreline – thanks to Beharrell’s conversion – now 12-6, the sparse crowd of just over 400 sensed that the next score would be pivotal. And it went the way of Hunslet who profited on a Cornwall error to register a third four-pointer of the afternoon.
Brown tapped a penalty on his own 40 to try and catch a retreating home defence napping. His run took Cornwall into Hunslet’s half but an offload saw the ball go to ground and the referee ruled a knock-on. From the resulting scrum, Lawford raced through to dot down under the posts.
Hunslet went for the jugular at this point and some desperate Cornwall defence saw Whitton off for a 10 minute sabbatical after a professional foul. Cornwall did manage to see the game out to the turnaround with a chance to regroup after a bruising opening 40 minutes.
Wanting a fast start to the second half, proceedings began with Cornwall failing to gather the kick-off and the ball went dead in goal. The visitors were forced to drop out from under their own posts and on the fourth tackle of Hunslet’s opening set, Josh Jordan-Roberts powered over for a third try in as many games against the Choughs.
Once again, Hunslet sensed that Cornwall’s dam would burst but Abbott’s charges dug in as the game became something of a scrappy affair, due in no small part to a torrential rain shower.
It took a huge slice of fortune for Hunslet to score again 15 minutes from time as Lawford’s grubber kick somehow found its way into the Bradford loanee’s hands after it had ricocheted around the Cornwall line.
Into the final stages and home full-back Jimmy Watson, making his 200th appearance for the Parksiders, seized on a Cornwall handling error to weave his way through a defensive line that now included Lloyd to score a sixth home try.
Cornwall kept plugging away though and a huge Aaronson bomb was fumbled by Watson which meant an away scrum in Hunslet’s red-zone.
Collins burrowed over from dummy-half for what looked like a first ever try in Cornwall colours but the referee decided otherwise and a second score would have been just rewards for yet another battling performance for Abbott’s side.
Sadly it wasn’t to be and owing to the fractured fixture list this season, Cornwall are not in action again until Saturday, July 8 when the side travel to basement dwellers London Skolars.
Hunslet: Watson, Render, Ryder, J Burton, Goddard, Lawford, Beharell, H Hallas, Conroy, Crossley, Jordan-Roberts, York, S Hallas. Interchange: (all used) O Burton, Syme, Wray, Green.
Tries: Ryder (3), J Burton (27), Lawford (33,65), Jordan-Roberts (42), Watson (72). Goals: Beharell 6/6
Cornwall: Whitton, Carter, Cullen, Ashton, Trerise, Brown, Aaronson, Boots, Collins, Hartshorne, Dimech, Weetman, E Badham. Interchange: (all used) Walton, I Badham, Barraclough, Lloyd.
Tries: Weetman (11). Goals: Brown 1/1
Sinbin: Whitton (38) – professional foul
Referee: Andrew Sweet