By Thomas Reyer
Hunslet RLFC welcome Bradford Bulls to the South Leeds Stadium on Sunday March 18 in an all-West Yorkshire clash. They meet in the fourth round of the Rugby League Challenge Cup.
The victor of the tie will progress into the fifth round, which is also the section of the tournament where top-tier Rugby League teams enter proceedings.
The Bulls have had major success in the tournament over the years, coming out victorious on five separate occasions. They have twice won the trophy this century, with their last triumph occurring back in 2003 when they defeated fierce rivals Leeds Rhinos 22-20.
The two sides have faced each other five times since the competition began Hunslet is still looking for a victory. The last time the Bulls won the competition, in 2003, is also the same year the two sides met on the pitch. That game was in the fifth round, ending with a 82-0 victory for the Bulls.
However, Bradford and Hunslet have had equally great starts to the season, winning both of their opening two games and sitting second and third respectively. Bradford currently possess a superior point’s difference, after being the more prolific side so far.
— Hunslet RLFC (@HunsletRLFC) March 20, 2018
Speaking exclusively to Yorkshire Voice about the upcoming, Hunslet Head Coach Gary Thornton explained that while early, this match can’t be overlooked:
“It’s a really exciting time for the club first and foremost and we are happy to be playing at home. It’s a very big game for us, definitely the biggest game of the season.
“It’s going to be a tough game and certainly a step up in quality, but we are ready for it. Weather permitting, it’s going to be a great match.”
The weather is set to turn for the worst in Leeds over the coming days, with forecasts indicating that strong winds and heavy snow showers are predicted for Saturday March 17. The sudden decline in weather could make for some tough playing conditions and Bulls’ boss John Kear acknowledges that.
“It alters a little how you play the game and that may well be reflected in the team selection…I think it’s going to a very tough game and not necessarily a high-scoring one.”
Approaching the match, Hunslet have been unfortunate with injuries after losing Ryan Mallinder and Nyle Flynn in the previous game and already enter the tie without Danny Grimshaw, Niall Walker and Brad Foster. Regarding their opponents, duo Liam Johnson and Liam Kirk are set to return for Bradford.
Kick-off is 3pm on Sunday March 18 at South Leeds Stadium.