“Survive” is definitely being over dramatic here, but it certainly helps set the tone for what started as a very competitive Rugby League match this past weekend at Lamport Stadium. The Toronto Wolfpack did manage to repel the invasion and defeated the Hunslet Hawks 56-12 behind a hat-trick from Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e. It was almost a carbon copy of their first home game against Oxford where a spirited visiting squad coupled with some unfavourable referee decisions had the Wolfpack on the defensive from the opening kickoff.
With four consecutive possessions to start the game, Hunslet pressed hard early. They controlled the ball for what seemed like all but 5 seconds during those first 8 minutes. Even when Toronto finally had a decent possession and marched upfield, they were able to thart their advances.
In fact it wasn’t until the 16th minute when Toronto was finally able to get on the board. Despite scoring 3 more tries within the next 10 minutes, the Hawks kept fighting and scored a couple themselves. The Wolfpack lead 22-12 at the break and it was still anyone’s game.
The second half however was all Wolfpack as they took complete control of the game getting 6 tries and outscoring the Hawks 34-0. QLT was Man of the Match with his offensive performance and may have found another reason to love Toronto.
“I’m scoring a lot of tries over here,” QLT explained. “This is my second game here and my second hat trick so, I’m loving it over here and hopefully it will carry on.”
Ryan Brierley tallied again and has now scored in every game he has worn the Wolfpack jersey, extending that streak to 8. But special mention has to go to James Laithwaite. He did not only return to the field for his first game after the neck injury he suffered two months ago, but it was also his first time in front of his home fans. That little extra excitement may have helped as he also scored a try that helped celebrate his return and added to Toronto’s dominance in League 1.
Regardless of the score however, the biggest victory of the day has to belong to Rugby League. The festival type atmosphere had started well before any of the 6042 in attendance entered the building. It started over a week ago through Twitter as a number of Hunslet supporters announced they would be invading Canada. They had mentioned that Canada hasn’t seen a Rugby League supporters until they have seen the Huns supporters. I felt it necessary at that time to “correct their English” as it can’t possibly be considered an invasion, when local fans were welcoming them over open arms. I have to admit however that those Huns were right, we didn’t see anything like this before. We didn’t see this coming.
Over 150 visiting (invading) Huns made the journey. They visited our local pubs and drank with local fans before the game. They filled Twitter and social media with photos and complements before, during and after the game as we did. They brought and hung their team’s banners as we did. They sang their songs as we… well, truth be told, Wolfpack fans need a little bit of work in this area. Cut us some slack though as that was only our fourth ever home game. It will come in time.
All in all we cheered together, we laughed together and we drank together, although not necessarily in that order. In good fun we also teased one another but always in a respectful manner and that too added to the beer garden atmosphere where supporters with swatches of black and white intermingled with those of the orange and green ilk quite wonderfully.
That is the spirit of sport; that is the spirit of Rugby League.
The Wolfpack’s next home game is Saturday, July 1st as they host the York City Knights. For more photos visit the wolfcast media page.
Photo Credits Chris Papaioannou
By Dario Passarelli / @Papadart