Rugby League: Hunslet 31 - 22 Mayfield
Date published: 15 April 2019
Wayne English on his way to scoring
This was another case of what could have been, as Mayfield dropped another two points in Leeds on Saturday.
A strong start from Sam Butterworth's side saw Mark Biggins terrorising the Hunslet forwards. A massive hit on their big second row saw him dislodge the ball and the Mayfield halves seized the opportunity to get their side into a strong position.
Zac Hartley then totally outclassed the oncoming defence with a superb kick which saw Wayne English sprint through to take the ball on the full and go over under the sticks, Hartley eased the conversion over to give his side the lead.
The first twenty minutes belonged to Mayfield as they played some great rugby and were unlucky on more than one occasion as the ball went to ground on the last play. If anything, they were perhaps a bit too fancy when some 'up the jumper' rugby may have produced better results, but that’s the way this team plays and when it comes off it's superb to watch.
Whenever Hunslet got the ball there was Biggins again scything them down and tackling with such ferocity that he dislodged the ball twice. For all their possession, Mayfield failed to convert it into more points, something they would pay the price for come the end of the game. Biggins just failed to ground the ball as he crashed over the line when a try would have given the game a different outlook.
Hunslet took heart from this and upped their game pushing forward at every chance.
Callum Marriott, Liam Whalley and Zac Baker worked overtime in their attempts to keep Hunslet out, but a speculative pass out from the number 8 saw Hunslet get a stroke of luck as the ball went straight to the full back who managed to get over the whitewash to narrow the scores.
The game was fast and flowing now with both sides putting on a great show and both sides narrowly failing to score. This made it all the more galling when the Hunslet centre sneaked over from acting half back for what could only be described as a soft try.
The home side then had a bit of a purple patch which was only to be expected from a team like this. Hunslet increased their lead when the hooker crashed onto a short pass and broke the line for a converted score, 14 - 6 before half time.
Mayfield gave away a scrappy penalty from the restart and Hunslet were unlucky not to score from the easy possession.
It didn't take long though as Mayfield failed to deal with a high kick and the Hunslet attacker plucked the ball from the air and went in for another easy converted try.
Mayfield could have gone under at this stage, but they rallied and tried everything to get back into the game.
Nick Hargreaves lead the charge giving it his all with strong direct running. Cole Connolly tried a chip through the defence before running into the back of a Hunslet player who took exception to Connolly's tactics.
In the resulting fracas Connolly was knocked unconscious and had to be helped from the field, strangely the offending player was given only a yellow card, along with Connolly and another Hunslet player.
Mayfield made the most of the space created and threw the ball wide in a brilliant move which Liam Whalley finished in style, Hartley failed with conversion attempt.
Hargreaves continued his effort and was responsible for finding the field position Dec Sheridan took advantage and ghosted over from acting half, Hartley converted for 20 - 16.
The teams traded tries then with Marriott getting one for Mayfield and making the score 26 -22 with 8 minutes remaining. Hargreaves, Hurley and Mulcahy worked hard to get their side level and the Sheridans probed at every opportunity but it wasn't to be as the Hunslet second row forced his way over in the corner to seal the game. Just for good measure they added a drop goal to make the final score 31 - 22.
Mayfield were left kicking themselves knowing this was another game they could, and indeed should, have won.
On the other hand, Butterworth and Steve Wood were relatively pleased feeling that with four regulars missing, Connaughton, Foy, Samanyanga and McConnachie this was a good all-round performance and gave them confidence for the future.
Hartley was given the MOM award, but he was pushed close by Hargreaves, Biggins and Dec Sheridan.
Mayfield are in action again on Good Friday in the Oldham Standard Cup final at Oldham RUFC at Manor Park.
Sam Butterworth said: "We have decided we are going to give some of the fringe players a run out against Saddleworth Rangers in this final. Saddleworth have had a torrid time this season in the NCL Division One not having registered a win yet.
"I'm not underestimating them or disrespecting the opposition, but I feel the NWML lads have done really well when they have stepped up to the NCL and so deserve the chance in this game. It also gives us the chance to try out the younger lads."
Fixtures 19 April 2019
Standard Cup final
Mayfield v Saddleworth KO 11.45am at Oldham RUFC at Manor Park, Oldham OL8 2TJ.
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