Workington continued their recent love affair with the South Leeds Stadium by opening their Betfred League One campaign with a 28-16 victory.

Town arrived having won each of their previous three visits to the West Yorkshire athletics and rugby venue and all of their last five encounters with Hunslet.

Chris Thorman’s side led twice in the first half before being hauled back to parity but two tries in three minutes from Declan O’Donnell after the interval sent them on their way to both league points against one of the club’s tipped for honours in the division.

Town were handicapped by being without five regulars; Perry Singleton and Marcus O’Brien, both suspended after indiscretions in the Barrow Raiders pre-season friendly, vice captain Stevie Scholey (tonsils), Ryan Wilson (broken foot) and Elliott Miller (back/hamstring).

Experienced Rhys Clarke, acquired midweek on a month’s loan from Newcastle, was brought straight into the pack.

Another ex-Thunder forward Jake Lightowler, signed last November, impressive former Great Britain Young Lion and Leigh Centurions winger Brad Holroyd, plus one time Whitehaven players Lewis Brown and Jake Moore, beginning his second stint at club, were handed competitive debuts.

Workington were immediately put under pressure when Simon Brown launched a 40-20 end of opening set.

Powerful prop Jordan Andrade managed to get over the line but Halifihi’s supply pass was judged forward.

Good defence followed with Ethan Bickerdikle and Brad Holroyd doing well to shepherd Liam Copland into touch as he made to touchdown in the corner.

Town took the lead when a well judged Jamie Doran kick was fielded deep in the opposition half but the ball came free in the first tackle and, gifted possession in such an advantageous position Doran took advantage to weave his way under the posts.

Carl Forber had no trouble adding the first of his four goals.

The lead lasted barely four minutes as the big figure of Andrade barged his way over from close range, with Dom Brambani levelling the scores with the conversion.

Just before the half hour, as Hanley Dawson worryingly received lengthy treatment on halfway, Egremont product Matty Henson jumped out of dummy half and stepped around the fullback to restore the visitors lead.

However Town failed to collect the restart and Nathan Conroy, just off the bench, dived over from close range after a forceful charge from former Batley prop Alex Rowe.

Brambani levelled the scores and the hosts looked to have scored again following a ricochet from a Brambani kick but referee Cameron Worsley adjudged a knock-on after deliberating with his touch judges.

Just before the break, the always lively Holroyd darted through a gap, taking Town within two metres, but the final pass to Forber went agonisingly to ground.

Having conceded two quick penalties after the restart, only the quick thinking of Ethan Bickerdike to dislodge the ball as Jake Sweeting made to touchdown kept the score level.

Town went from one end to the other as a Moore line-break sent the supporting O’Donnell over.

Almost immediately, magnificent mazy running from Gabriel Fell put O’Donnell in for his second.

O’Donnell was helped off shorty afterwards nursing his arm but returned for the few minutes.

Hunslet became frustrated by Town’s defence and lost their way with another barnstorming Andrade charge coming closest.

Moore was caught just short after great work from Holroyd and Alex Young.

Then Holroyd was sin-binned for holding down and straight away Matthew Grimes went in on the overlap for Hunslet.

But tenacious defence gave Henson the opportunity to virtually seal matters with a dart over from dummy half, although Forber failed for the first time to bisect the posts.


Hunslet: Sweeting, Hartley, Crimes, Ashton, Copland, Brown, Brambani, Andrade, Halifihi, Kidd, Hey, Boardman, Hallas, Subs: Conroy, Rowe, McClean, Jones.

Tries: Andrade (15), Conroy (31), Grimes (69)

Goals: Brambani 2/3

Workington: Fell, Holroyd, Bickerdike, Wellington, Young, Doran, Forber, Fitzsimmons, O’Connell, Lightowler, Moore, Barnes, Dawson. Subs: Henson, Curwen, Clarke, Brown.

Tries: Doran (11), Henson (29, 76), O’Donnell (43, 46)

Goals: Forber (4/5)

Sin Bin: Holroyd (69)

Half-time: 12-12

Referee: Cameron Worsley