Rugby League: Hunslet transfixed as Gene weaves his Rovers magic

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The Independent Online
Hull Kingston Rovers 60 Hunslet Hawks 14

Stanley Gene, a highly successful import from a culture as different as it could possibly be, was Hull KR's inspiration as they outclassed Hunslet to win the first Silk Cut Plate final.

Gene, the scrum-half from Goroka in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, was the Second Division player of the year in helping Rovers to promotion last season and he spearheaded an irresistible display with three second- half tries.

Hunslet, the side from the rugby league heartlands of south Leeds, for whom the consolation prize competition has been a major boost, had no answer to Gene's power and pace.

"I might have scored the tries, but it was a 17-man effort," Gene said. "It was a real bonus for me to play at Wembley. I've played at the Sydney Football Stadium and Lang Park in Brisbane, so now I've played in the best grounds in the world. It was nice and hot out there - just like home - and that helped me."

Although Gene stood out, Rovers' success at a stadium they visited three times for the Cup final proper during the 1980s, was built on a collective ability to keep the ball alive. Hunslet, on the other hand, relied too much on Paul Mansson's skills.

Doubts, however, remain about the long term viability of the Plate. It is inevitable that it will be played in a part-filled stadium, but there is no excuse for the teams having to change in temporary dressing-rooms outside the ground. That devalues what, in Rovers' case at least, was by no means a second-rate performance.

Hull Kingston Rovers: Tries Gene 3, Adams 2, Atkins 2, P Fletcher 2, Charles, D'Arcy; Goals M Fletcher 8. Hunslet Hawks: Tries Mansson, Pechey, Southernwood; Goal Booth.

Hull Kingston Rovers: M Fletcher; Adams, Hutchinson, D'Arcy, Rouse; Atkins, Gene; Dannatt, Chamberlain, Hardy, Wilson, P Fletcher, Charles. Substitutes used: Crane, Dearlove, Hoe, Harrison.

Hunslet Hawks: Coult; Baker, Pechey, Boothroyd, White; Mansson, Murphy; Pryce, Southernwood, Tuffs, Cochrane, Flowers, Booth. Substitutes used: Coyle, Hill, Rushton, Brook.

Referee: R Connolly (Wigan).