SAINTS Academy scored nine tries at a sun drenched Close Street to blow the Tigers away 50-12, writes Graham Henthorne.
It had been nip and tuck in the first period as poor ball control and 7 – zero penalty count in the final twenty minutes hampered the Saints.
But it was all different in the second half as the Saints, led superbly by Danny Jones, were unstoppable.
Dom Speakman had opened the Saints account running the ball in form 30 metres out after Brad Ashurst had put Mark Percival away down the right.
Aggressive defence was pinning the Tigers in their own half which would have given the Saints more of an advantage had two tries not been disallowed for borderline forward passes.
However, as the half wore on the Academy invited the Tigers on and were eventually broken. Having withstood six sets in their own 20 metre area the Tigers finally scored in the left corner.
Parity was short-lived, however, as the Saints gave an indication of things to come by scoring yet another dazzler. Tom Roughley celebrated his debut for the 18’s withy a great jump down the blind side catching the Tigers short. His ball found Percival out to Corey Lee who shot down the line before feeding it back to Percival, to score at the posts.
The second half was a different story. The amount of defending should have taken its toll on the Saints but all it seemed to do was to have cracked the Tigers. Having battled away in the heat as they had, come up with only one try, still gone in behind and then conceded on the first set of the half demoralised them.
Debutant full back Lewis Charnock made the half break and three quick play the balls later Danny Jones, having managed to stay on the pitch for more than three tackles this week, was scooting in under the sticks.
Roughley and Jones were again involved in the build up to Speakman’s second setting up the position for Danny Yates to grubber through giving the chasing stand off an easy score.
The impressive Charnock’s miss pass put Jamie Tracey in at the corner for the Saints fifth. Jones’s prop partner Brad Ashurst set up Jordan O’Neill with a great under hand ball to put the big second rower under the sticks for the sixth.
The Saints were playing some sparkling football now. Jordan Case broke down the left put the ball inside to Speakman, it went out again to Greg Wilde and back inside for Danny Yates to scoot in.
Yates score his second ducking under some poor tackles then standing up the full back with a great shimmy.
Poor effort and communication at the back gave the Tigers a consolation score. But the half century was brought up when strong running sub Greg Richards showed that he’s as at home at this level as the rest of his U16s counterparts, bursting out of the tackle and feeding it one handed inside to Lewis Foster who scampered in for the try.
Given the heat and the defence that the team had to make in the first half this was a fabulous display for what is a very young Saints team. The only disappointment of the season is that there’s no silverware to take home because it would be a fitting reward for a great squad.
Jordan O’Neill played the full 80, Danny Yates, Dom Speakman and Adam Hesketh were their usual reliable selves and Tom Roughley did some very good things off the bench. But Man of the Match has to go to Danny Jones as everyone in a Tigers shirt breathed a sigh of relief as he left the field.
Tries: Mark Percival, Jamie Tracey, Dom Speakman 2, Danny Yates 2, Lewis Foster, Danny Jones, Jordan O’Neill.
Goals: Mark Percival 7.
Tries: Curtis McDonald, Casey Canterbury.
Goals: Ben Reynolds 2.
Half Time: 12-6
Full Time: 50-12
1. Lewis Charnock; 2. Corey Lee, 3. Mark Percival, 4. Greg Wilde, 5. Jamie Tracey; 6. Dom Speakman, 7. Danny Yates; 8. Brad Ashurst, 9. Lewis Foster, 10. Danny Jones, 11. James Tilley, 12. Jordan O’Neill, 13. Jordan Case.
Subs: 14. Tom Roughley, 15. Luke Thompson, 16. Greg Richards, 17. Adam Hesketh.
1. Ben Reynolds; 2. Brad Knowles, 3. Luke Day, 4. Jordan Gill, 5. Curtis McDonald; 6. Connor Land, 7. Zak Snellgrove; 16. Jordan Gray, 9. Vila Halafihi, 17. Jack Smith, 11. Shaun Pick, 12. George Pallister, 13. Jack Lee.
Subs: 14. Casey Canterbury, 15. Chris Anderson, 10. Nathan Hammond, 8. Billy Nodder.