SAINTS U18s 38 v 34 Hull KR U18s – Contrary to claims in the press on the other side of Billinge Lump earlier this week, the title of best team in the non-existent league this year was not won last week but was up for grabs at Close Street on Saturday as second in the imaginary table Rovers visited the leaders, your Super Saints.
As has been documented elsewhere debuts and burgeoning first team careers have a knock on effect further down the structure meaning that Coach Derek Traynor had to field a much younger, more inexperienced side than he would have liked with Jordan Heaton and Andre Savelio making their debuts.
But you would never have guessed as the Saints stood toe to toe with the older, more experienced visitors.
Rovers took the lead as three sets of six proved too much for the Saints defence. Successive scrums took the Saints to the Rovers 10 metre line and as Lewis Charnock was held short, on the next play Savelio got himself a debut try reaching out over the tacklers to score.
Rovers took advantage of a missed tackle down the middle to score only for Saints to level matters courtesy of Dom Speakman’s’ great 40/20. This set up position for Luke Thompson to reach over after Charnock had again gone close.
The Saints took the lead again with the first of Lewis Foster’s hat-trick. A trademark Savelio hand off on half way and short ball put Foster away. He fed Charnock who was caught short yet again, but Foster jumped out of dummy half to score.
The tit-for-tat continued as Rovers’ best, hooker Jon Gay, dummied his way over at the play the ball.
The kick off was touched into touch putting the Saints back on the attack straight away and they made the visitors pay. Matty Fozzard was held up over the line and Thompson was held short before Brad Ashurst charged over from close range.
Gay again dove in at the corner from close range and the touch line conversion levelled matters at the break.
The second half opened with Chris Webster denied a try for a double movement and Jordan O’Neill sin-binned for a head high tackle. The visitors saw their chance and took the lead with a converted try in the corner.
The Saints saw out the penalty and set about retrieving the deficit. Good work off a last tackle kick forced the Rovers receiver into touch. From the resulting scrum Nathan Skupski scored down the left from Charnock’s pass after Fozzard had been held short.
Rovers looked to have made the game safe on the hour as they went two score ahead but, showing a maturity beyond their years, the young Saints came roaring back.
With ten minutes to go Skupski put Ben Parry away down the left, the winger took it to the full back and in classic fashion committed him before feeding the supporting Foster to take it around to the posts. Dom Speakman’s’ conversion brought the Saints to within 2.
From the kick off Joe Bate drove the ball at the line and won a quick the play the ball. Ashurst came on to the pass like a train putting Speakman clear with a gem of an inside ball. He took it the full back before again finding Foster on his inside shooting under the sticks for the go ahead score. Speakman’s second conversion put the Saints a try ahead and set up a nervy last 6 minutes.
However, there was no way they were giving it up this time and the defence held firm for the win and the honour of being the best side in 2011.
Tries: Nathan Skupski, Lewis Foster 3, Luke Thompson, Andre Savelio, Brad Ashurst.
Goals: Dom Speakman 2, Jordan Heaton 3.
Tries: Rowan Colquhoun, Dave Scott, Nat Slater 2, Joe Gay 2 .
Goals: Matthew Beharrell 5.
Half Time: 22-22
Full Time: 38-34
1. Lewis Charnock; 2. Jamie Tracey, 3. Lewis Galbraith, 4. Nathan Skupski, 5. Ben Parry; 6. Dom Speakman, 7. Jordan Heaton; 8. Joe Bate, 9. Lewis Foster, 10. Jack Francis, 11. Luke Thompson, 12. Jordan O’Neill, 13. Andre Savelio.
Subs: 14. Matty Fozzard, 15. Greg Richards, 16. Brad Ashurst, 17. Chris Webster.
1. Danny Kelsow; 5. James Maughan, 4. Rowan Colquhoun, 3. Dave Scott, 2. Sam Watson; 6. Matthew Beharrell, 7. Nat Slater; 8. Callum Taylor, 16. Joe Gay, 10. Sam Jowsey, 11. Curtis Pullen, 12. Craig Smith, 13. Sonny Esslemont.
Subs: 14. Jordan Milner, 15. Richard Clayphon, 9. Callum Tolson, 17. Lewis Farr.