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Rugby League: Time runs out for Dewsbury

Dewsbury 11

Hunslet 12

IN THEIR hearts, Hunslet cannot be confident of winning the Super League place that the victory ensured by Jamie Leighton's drop goal in last night's Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final entitles them to apply for.

Whatever the result of that application, both they and Dewsbury played as though the world was at stake in a match of fervent intensity that showed that the game still has much to offer at this level.

Dewsbury had to survive a torrid opening 15 minutes from a Hunslet side full of aggressive running. The prolific Richard Pachniuk was held up over the line and Rob Wilson was denied a try by a double movement before Dewsbury could begin to imagine that they had weathered the early storm.

But then the kicking game of Richard Agar began to swing matters their way. His drop goal put the Rams ahead and although the first of his trademark 40/20 kicks was wasted by his own knock-on, Dewsbury maintained the pressure and Barry Eaton added a penalty.

When Dewsbury claimed the first try two minutes later, after expansive back line play took the ball first to one wing and then the other, before Adrian Flynn finally touched down, it seemed they might take command.

Eaton hit the post with the conversion and Hunslet came roaring back in the last 10 minutes of an excellent half. The former England back, Paul Cook, managed to wrestle his way over for a try which was improved by Chris Ross and Latham Tawhai tied the scores at the break with a drop goal.

With the game so finely poised, the first points of the second half were vital and Hunslet secured them when Butch Fatnowna and Phil Kennedy set up Iain Higgins for a well taken try.

Flynn could have struck back for Dewsbury immediately but went alone and was tackled in to touch by Fatnowna with men in support. They did equalise, however, when Higgins lost a high kick from Agar for Damian Ball to pounce.

Leighton edged Hunslet back in front with the vital point - a good lead in the context of a match as tight as this. But it could have disappeared four minutes from the end if Eaton had got his pass away after a potentially match winning break.

Dewsbury continued to hammer away as time ran out, but the crucial chances has been missed.

Dewsbury: Graham; Godfrey, Evans, O'Meara, Flynn, Agar, Eaton, Boothroyd, Delaney, Long, Spink, Haigh, Ball. Substitutes used: Williams, Richardson, Hicks, Medley.

Hunslet: Fatnowna; Ross, Irwin, Cook, Higgins, Vassilakopoulos, Tawhai, Hayes, Pachniuk, Pryce, Wilson, Leighton, St Hiliare. Substitutes used: Coyle, Kennedy, Thackray, Baker.

Referee: S Danson (St Helens).