Royal Navy come so close in Challenge Cup thriller

The Royal Navy impressed in the Challenge Cup
The Royal Navy impressed in the Challenge Cup
Joel Knight. Picture: Neil Marshall

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The Royal Navy came so close to a stunning Challenge Cup upset before going down 32-14 defeat at Hunslet Hawks.

Danny Johnson’s rugby league side led for much of the contest and, with just 12 minutes remaining, the two sides were locked together at 14-14.

But the greater experience of the Championship side told in the closing stages.

‘It was a magnificent performance,’ said the navy’s Keith Humpleby.

‘At one stage just before half-time we led 14-4, which in itself was remarkable against a team who were founder members of the Rugby League.

‘Our defence in the first half when Hunslet tried to hit back was superb.

‘Our players were given a standing ovation by the crowd at the end and they don’t give praise easily in that part of the world.

‘It was obvious that we made a big impression.’

The Royal Navy got off to the worst possible start, going behind after barely a minute on the clock.

But the visitors struck back six minutes later to level the scores with a Tommy Wilkinson try.

The navy then had their best spell of the match as Steve Lockton extended their lead with a second try converted by Kev Botwood.

Botwood also sent a couple of penalties between the posts to put his side in dream land.

Despite intense Hawks pressure, the visitors put on a brave defensive effort to keep them at bay until just before the break when the hosts closed the gap to just two points.

Hunslet played much better after the interval but were denied until midway through the half when they managed to equalise.

The navy threatened until the last 10 minutes as Hawks racked up three unanswered tries to flatter them greatly.