The Toronto Wolfpack scored 34 unanswered second-half points to extend their unbeaten run in Kingstone Press League One by overcoming a spirited performance by visitors Hunslet at Lamport Stadium.
Former Souths Logan Magpies player and Samoan international Quentin Laulu-Togoga’e starred for Toronto, scoring a hat-trick of tries in the Wolfpack’s 12th straight league victory, a 56-12 win.
Hunslet made a strong start to the match, controlling the majority of possession for the opening 10 minutes following a series of penalties, Wolfpack errors and a repeat set from a grubber into Toronto’s in-goal area. Faced with the challenge of outscoring the Wolfpack’s high-powered offence, Hunsley declined several opportunities to kick for two points but failed to break the Wolfpack’s goal line defence in the opening exchanges. Hunslet’s fifth tackle options were poor, with their players caught with the ball on several occasions.
Competition leaders Toronto made Hunslet pay after possession began to even up, with hooker Sean Penkywicz scooting over for the opening try, following a quick tap in the 16th minute. Shortly after Wolfpack halfback Ryan Brierley crossed for his team’s second try following a line break from winger Liam Kay.
Hunslet utilised some creative kick-off options in attempts to regather possession, including striking the ball with an awkward sidespin, short kick-offs and kicks aimed at the sidelines. Following a successful drive at the sideline, Hunslet centre Mufaro Mvududu scored the visitors’ first points after backing up on a dart from dummy half close to the goal line to reduce the deficit to 10-6.
Wolfpack hit back when captain Craig Hall stood up his opposition centre and committed Hunslet’s winger before setting up Jonny Pownall to score in the corner. Hunslet’s passionate travelling supporters, vocal for the entire match, were sent into raptures when captain George Flanagan scooted over the Wolfpack’s goal line from dummy half, cutting the deficit to six points.
But sloppy defence from Hunslet’s right edge resulted in a try to James Laithwaite of the Wolfpack, the home side taking a 22-12 lead into the half-time break.
It was all downhill from there for Hunslet, with the Wolfpack running in six unanswered tries in the second half to win the contest by 44 points. The most spectacular of those tries saw fullback Laulu-Togoga’e cut through Hunslet’s defensive line at halfway, beat the fullback with some agile footwork and then produce too much speed for the cover defence. The 50-metre effort completed a hat-trick for the former Sheffield Eagles player and Queensland Cup grand final winner.
In a bizarre moment, Hunslet’s try-scoring hero Flanagan was sin-binned for dragging down Toronto forward Fui Fui Moi Moi by his hair close to the try line two minutes after half-time. It was a rocks and diamonds evening for Moi Moi, the NRL grand finalist brought into the action off the bench as an impact player rather than a starter. The former Parramatta Eels star made several errors and was sin-binned for dissent in the 72nd minute, but still showed how devastating he can be with line-bending runs and strong tackles in defence.
The win over Hunslet improved the Wolfpack’s record to 12-0 in Kingstone Press League One as they march towards the Super 8s section of the season, on the hunt for promotion to the Kingstone Press Championship in their inaugural season.
Toronto Wolfpack 56 Tries: Penkywicz (16), Brierley (18), Pownall (24, 27), Laithwaite (36), Kay (44), Togaga’e (52, 64, 77), Whiting (58), Hall (75)
Goals: Hall 6/11
Hunslet RLFC 12 Tries: Mvududu (21), Flanagan (32).
Goals: Sanderson: 2/2