What they said…

Date published: Monday, May 24, 2010

Paul O’Connor won the Roughyeds’ man-of-the-match award and Ian Hodson took the champagne-moment prize for his slick pass in the tackle that led to his side’s only try by Lucas Onyango in our 60-4 defeat by Hunslet Hawks.

At the post-match presentations in the club — now to be a regular feature as part of our plans to embrace supporters in everything that goes on at Whitebank — Hawks officials said it was their club’s best performance over 80 minutes for many years.

It’s fair to say that when the final hooter brought a merciful end to Hunslet’s 11-try demolition job, Roughyeds were shell-shocked, bewildered and still wondering what had hit them.

Man of the match Paul O'ConnorNevertheless, coach Tony Benson made the point that, even when they were down and out, the Roughyeds players — all 18 of them who were on duty for this game — were in the clubhouse afterwards to meet the supporters and to share their disappointments with them.

“That’s what makes this club special,” he said. “We have taken a beating, but the boys are all in here — those who played today and some who didn’t play today — and we will be looking at ourselves closely this week to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Roughyeds go to Workington on Sunday in another tough examination of their strength and skills — and of the mental toughness that will be required to bounce back from the lessons that Hunslet dished out.

Earlier, at his post-match media conference, TB stressed how well Hunslet had played and said how Roughyeds had been forced to spend most of the game chasing and tackling in energy-sapping conditions.

He said: “Hunslet played exceptionally well and beat us in every department. Their completion rate was arouind the 90 per cent mark so they had all the ball after the first 15 minutes or so and they got on top — and stayed on top. With all the ball, they got a roll on — and they just kept rolling on.

“There are lots of areas we can look at in our own performance, and I will study the DVD of the game to get the overall picture of that, but the fact is that Hunslet played superbly well and we didn’t have any answers.

“In the second half they were on fire going down the slope and it is very tough defending against a performance like that with the sun beating down and the temperatures soaring as high as they did.

“There are probably lots of underlying reasons why this happened. Playing Hunslet you are okay if you get enough ball, but they kept it off us and made sure they kept it for themselves.

“They are a big, strong side and when you are defending constantly in this heat and against a team like that it is inevitable that you will burn up a lot of energy.

Champagne moment went to Ian Hodson“They targeted Matty Ashe and Gregg McNally, as we knew they would. We tried to target the March brothers but quite simply we didn’t have enough of the ball to do that.

“They were causing havoc in our defence and it didn’t help when John Gillam went off with a shoulder injury at half time because Ben Heaton came off the bench and it meant we lost a forward. It was the back-row who were covering Matty and Gregg but we couldn’t rotate them as we would have liked.

“We now have to get ourselves up for going to Workington next week, but first I’ll have to pick myself up. I really feel for the players because everybody had worked really hard to prepare for Hunslet and they were all very positive about the game.

“Certainly, nobody turned up wanting to play poorly or to concede 60 points, but it has happened and now we have to respond positively when we go to Cumbria next Sunday.”

Paul March, Hunslet’s player-coach, said: “It was the first time this season that we played for 80 minutes. I had been telling the players that if we did come up with an 80-minute performance we would put somebody to the sword. That’s what happened today, it just happened to be Oldham on the receiving end.

“Their fans turned up in force to shout for them, but their team didn’t really have any answers to what we threw at them.

“I know Oldham beat us at our place in the league, but having beaten them since in the Challenge Cup we put the record straight then. No, this today wasn’t about turning the tables, it was about going out enjoying ourselves in the sunshine. We had nothing to prove.

“Whitebank provided us with a nice, open field and it was good to see so many people around all sides.

“I’m glad Oldham are settling in. It will take time for them to feel that Whitebank is home from home. They might feel that at present they are playing away from home because it is all so new to them, but that won’t always be the case obviously.

“But I can’t speak too highly about the quality of rugby my boys served up today. Wayne McHugh’s second of three tries near the end, when we passed the ball through lots of pairs of hands up the middle, must surely be a candidate for try of the season.

“A word about referee Clint Sharrad too. I ask for consistency and I think we got it today. I know some people will say it is easy for me to praise the ref when we have scored 60 points, but I was impressed with him because he would have a word with the players of both teams during play, and he let us know what he expected of us.

“It was the sort of performance that earns the respect of players, and I think he got that from both teams.”