In the first of our new preview series for the 2022 season, Getting To Know, Josh takes an in-depth look at our first opponents this season in the Betfred Challenge Cup, Hunslet RL.
2021 SEASON RECAP
The 2021 season was very much a tale of two halves, under two different coaches, for Hunslet as a slow start to the year was followed by an in-form end that saw them lose only two of their final 10 fixtures.
The first half of the season was dictated by injuries, suspension, and covid as Hunslet struggled to get their first-choice team out on the field and as a result were forced into a loan market.
Despite an away win against North Wales and a home draw with Doncaster, heavy defeats at home to Barrow and away at Keighley left the Parksiders struggling in the early league table.
A home win over Rochdale and a comprehensive away victory away at London Skolars seemed to have turned the tide but an away fixture at Coventry would result in major changes off the field.
Leading 44-22 with ten minutes left on the clock, a sensational collapse would ensue as the Bears ran in 24 unanswered points to emerge victorious 46-44 at the Butts Park Arena.
The response was immediate as the decision was taken to relieve Gary Thornton of his duties and replace him as Head Coach with Alan Kilshaw.
The arrival of ‘Killer’ brought with it a change of fortune on the field as the club would only lose one, away at Barrow, of its final eight regular season games.
A draw with Keighley was followed with a comprehensive away victory at Doncaster which set them on their way up the League One table.
Victories over the divisions bottom three sides would be followed with a comeback draw, as they came from behind to snatch a share of the spoils at the death against Rochdale Hornets.
That result meant Hunslet had risen from third bottom of League One to pipping the Hornets to the final play-off spot.
A sensational away victory against Workington Town followed to set them up for a crack at the play-offs, however their season ended as a Matty Beharrell inspired Doncaster see of the resurgent south Leeds outfit.
Entering his first full season as Head Coach at Hunslet, Alan Kilshaw will be looking to replicate the success of his time in charge across the Pennines at the Rochdale Hornets.
Replacing Gary Thornton midway through the 2021 season, Kilshaw immediately implemented his own style on the Parksiders as he took an underachieving side from third bottom of the table to a play-off berth inside just two months.
Beginning his reign with July’s pulsating 20-20 draw against the Cougars at the South Leeds Stadium, they would go on to lose only one of the seven matches that followed that afternoon.
This incredible run of form saw Hunslet pick up convincing away wins against Doncaster and Workington, whilst also staging an incredible comeback to draw in a crunch fixture away at ‘Killer’ former club, Rochdale.
Prior to taking the top job in south Leeds, Alan had taken some time away from the sport following his successful spell as coach of the Hornets.
His first season in charge at Rochdale saw him lead them to a sensational season that saw them stun full-time outfit Toulouse Olympique in France to be promoted ahead of the now Super League side as League One champions.
Following promotion, the Hornets were hotly tipped for relegation but again Kilshaw would defy the odds to keep them in the second tier before departing Spotland at the conclusion of the 2018 campaign.
This off-season has seen Alan continue to put his own mark on his new side with a mass overhaul of his squad, with 22 new faces arriving whilst he has shown 16 of the squad he inherited through the exit door.
Neither he or the club have made any secret of their ambitions for 2022 and they will be looking to put an early marker down against one of their promotion rivals come Sunday afternoon.
SQUAD: 1 – Jimmy Watson; 2 – Wayne Reittie; 3 – Jack Render; 4 – Jason Mossop; 5 – Kiedan Hartley; 6 – Dave Gibbons; 7 – Jack Mallinson; 8 – Harvey Hallas; 9 – Harvey Whiteley; 10 – Duane Straugheir; 11 – Josh Jordan-Roberts; 12 – Joe Summers; 13 – Jordan Syme; 14 – Cameron Berry; 15 – Ethan O’Hanlon; 16 – Matty Stableford; 17 – Rowland Kaye; 18 – Aaron Jones-Bishop; 19 – Charley Bodman; 20 – Rian Rowley; 21 – Dom Horn; 22- Liam Carr; 23 – Jordan Paga; 24 – Dean Zammit; 25 – Tre Webster; 26- Jacob Beer; 27 – Sam Moorhouse; 28 – Fraser Stroud; TBC – Frazer Morris
RETAINED FROM 2021: Harvey Hallas; Kiedan Hartley; Aaron Jones-Bishop; Duane Straugheir; Jimmy Watson; Harvey Whiteley; Dean Zammit
TRANSFERS IN: Josh Jordan-Roberts (Rochdale Hornets); Dave Gibbons (Warrington Wolves); Jack Mallinson (Leeds Rhinos); Rian Rowley (Leeds Rhinos); Jack Render (Fryston Warriors); Wayne Reittie (Batley Bulldogs); Frazer Morris (Dewsbury Rams); Dom Horn (Batley Bulldogs); Jacob Beer (Huddersfield Giants); Ethan O’Hanlon (Bradford Bulls); Jordan Syme (Rochdale Hornets); Cameron Berry (Bradford Bulls); Joe Summers (Featherstone Rovers); Jason Mossop (Whitehaven); Matty Stableford (Oulton Raiders); Jordan Paga (Midlands Hurricanes); Tre Webster (Huddersfield Giants); Liam Carr (Hull Kingston Rovers); Rowland Kaye (West Wales Raiders); Charley Bodman (West Wales Raiders); Sam Moorhouse (Dewsbury Rams); Fraser Stroud (West Wales Raiders)
TRANSFERS OUT: Jy-Mel Coleman (London Broncos); Harry Kidd (Dewsbury Rams); Mikey Wood (Sheffield Eagles); Matty Chrimes (Sheffield Eagles); Vila Halafihi (Sheffield Eagles); Jordan Andrade (Oldham RLFC); Will Cooke (Oldham RLFC); Liam Copland (Oldham RLFC); AJ Boardman (Midlands Hurricanes); Simon Brown (Released); Nathan Conroy (Released); Brad Hey (Released); Joe McClean (Released); Alex Rowe (Released); Lewis Wray (Released); Dom Brambani (Retired)
ONE TO WATCH
An off-season arrival ahead of this season from Rochdale, Jordan Syme has established himself as one of the divisions standout forwards over the last two seasons.
The backrower is a familiar face in opposition colours at Cougar Park after his many visits over the years as a member of the Halifax reserves side.
Known for his ability to switch positions at ease, and the awkwardness he can cause opposition defences, Syme made the decision to join Hunslet after a three-year spell with the Rochdale Hornets.
He joined the Hornets on a permanent basis ahead of the 2020 season following two separate loan spells at the Crown Oil Arena prior to that.
Despite Rochdale’s relegation during 2019, Jordan made 15 appearances on loan and earned rave reviews for his performances as Matt Calland acted quickly to secure his services on a permanent basis as they look to bounce back from dropping into the third tier.
Prior to his loan stints with the Hornets, Syme made a handful of first team appearances for the Halifax Panthers but couldn’t earn himself regular game time with intense competition for places at The Shay.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the forward volunteered on the frontline with the NHS as a member of the protecting department at Calderdale Hospital.
Following the return of Rugby League in 2021, Jordan was a near ever present for a Rochdale side that narrowly missed out on a play-off position to his new club.
However, he continued to impress as a leading forward for his club and the division before making the decision to move to the South Leeds Stadium for the 2022 campaign.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS (CHALLENGE CUP ONLY)
1984 (Round One): Hunslet 21-10 Keighley
1945 (Round One, Second Leg): Hunslet 4-2 Keighley
1945 (Round One, First Leg): Keighley 11-8 Hunslet
1937 (Round One): Hunslet 2-5 Keighley
By Joshua Chapman