For the third year in a row, Mansfield Woodhouse-based rugby league team, Sherwood Wolf Hunt, have been crowned First Division champions in the Midland League.
Wolf Hunt completed the hat-trick with a 44-16 victory over previous leaders Derby City, which tempted coach Glenn Holt to declare: “This is a proud day for the club.”
Derby had taken the spoils in earlier clashes between the two sides, so Holt’s boys knew they had to find something extra against a strong side.
That they did, dictating the pace of the game throughout. Four unanswered tries in the first half from Mason Hardwick (2), Charlie Mason, and Joe Ducker left the Derby side shellshocked as they struggled to take a grasp of the game.
They finally managed a score off the back of a couple of soft penalties, but that was cancelled out through an instant response in the shape of a dart-over try after some strong running by prop forward Jono Colie found Matt Upton within reaching distance to finish off a fine passage of play.
A further two tries just before the half-time hooter gave stand-in Derby coach Alan Williams a glimmer of hope and some motivation for his side at the interval. But with a 26-12 lead, the message from Holt was to play basic rugby, speed the play up and control the game as they had for the first 30 minutes.
Further second-half tries from Ducker, Daniel Pearson and Ben Lee saw the game off as a contest, although the highlight of the half was the introduction of burly prop forward Shaun Underwood, who has been with the club since day one. Underwood shrugged off former Wolf Hunt player Mikey Wallis and beat several would-be tacklers to barge his way over to score his first-ever try for the club in excitable fashion.
This effectively ended the game as a contest at 44-16 in Wolf Hunt’s favour. Credit the Derby attack as they continued to press the Wolf Hunt line until the dying minutes of the game. But desperate defence and a desire to keep them out prevented them from scoring. Referee Gerry Frobisher blew the final whistle, meaning Wolf Hunt had taken the title again, enabling captain Lee Chapman to collect his side’s trophy and return it to Debdale Park.
Holt said: “From a coach’s perspective, I couldn’t have asked for much more. I felt we’d prepared as well as we could for this game. From the team run the day before, the lads were switched on, intent on bringing the title back, and that showed from the very first set. We were clinical in attack, and showed some real desire at times to keep the Derby attack from scoring. It was a very proud day for the club.”
The man-of-the-match award went to stand-off Daniel Pearson, who controlled the Wolf Hunt attack superbly throughout, and led his team around the park like a true general, wise beyond his rugby league years.
The date for the club’s end-of-season presentation is soon to be announced. People wanting tickets are advised to keep an eye on wolfhuntrl.co.uk over the coming days for further information.