HAVING waited three weeks for their first match of the new season the Reserves definitely blew the cobwebs away with a great 20-10 victory against a Rovers outfit at the unfamiliar, and very windy, confines of West Hull ARLFC writes Graham Henthorne.
The victory was based on a solid defensive display which foiled everything that the home side could throw at it.
With the wind in their favour in the opening stanza the Saints continually put themselves under pressure with silly handling errors in their own half. Five or six times a stray pass or knock on forcing a silly pass down the left side gifted possession to the home side in good field position. It is a testament to the scrambling defence on show from the Saints that Rovers only managed to pierce the Saints defensive line once in the first half, and that way out of the left touchline.
Having conceded the opening score the Saints finally managed to get into Rovers territory at quarter time on the back of a penalty. First Nathan Ashe probed down the right before the ball was spread left eventually ending up with Carl Forster who dummied a kick out wide before plunging over himself at the side of the posts. Dom Speakman converted to give the Saints the lead.
Despite having a gale at their backs the Saints never managed to get good enough field position to use the wind continually being forced onto the back foot by poor handling.
On the half hour another penalty saw the Saints again in Rovers half of the pitch only for Speakman to be denied at the line on the last when there was an overlap out wide if only he’d looked up.
Coach Talbot reminded the team at half time that despite a 55% completion rate they were still ahead, although the wind would be a difficult obstacle to overcome.
The home side should have gone ahead immediately on the restart as a high bomb had Jaydon Sandford in a spin only for the Rovers winger to knock on with the line at his mercy.
Sandford mad amends with a weaving run deep into Rovers ground only to see the ball go to ground two tackles later. And when Corey Lee broke free around the Rovers winger only to kick ahead to their full back, there was a sense that this might not be Saint’s day, especially when Rovers took the lead minutes later
However, the Saints drew on their reserves of strength and fitness and took the fight to the home side in the final quarter.
A cross kick on the last from Ashe found Corey Lee in acres of space having replaced the injured Sandford on the wing and he scampered in for the try, improving it enough for Jordan Case to be able to just convert against the howling gale.
Yet more desperate defence kept Rovers out and a relieving penalty saw the Saints in the opposition half. Speakman darted out of dummy half and quick hands to the left corner from Scott Hale and Josh Jones saw Lee in for his second.
Case couldn’t convert leaving the Saints hanging onto a six point lead but the home side, having thrown everything at the Saints in vain, were a spent force. Carl Forster was held up over the line but from the resultant play the ball Danny Yates shot through the line to seal the win.
As Coach Talbot said, last year the Reserves may have buckled in the second half but this side showed great character to come back and win.
Forster, Ant Walker, Hale and Joe Greenwood took the team forward in a hard fought win for the Reserves against an experienced Rovers outfit.
T: Scott, Taylor (C.)
T: Lee 2, Forster, Yates
G: Speakman, Case
Hull KR: Luke Hardcastle; David Scott, Chris Heil, Curtis Pullen, James Beaumont; Kristian Bell, Matthew Beharrell; Loyd Ofori, Keil Carlile, Jason Nethrton, George Griffin, Aaron Ollett, Tyler Hepi.
Subs: Joe Gay, Callum Tayloy, Sam Jowsey, Sonny Esslemont.
St. Helens: Corey Lee; Greg Wilde, Adam Swift, Josh Jones, Jayden Sandford; Nathan Ashe, Danny Yates; Jordan Hand, Dominic Speakman, Karl Forster, Scott Hale, Joe Greenwood, Danny Jones.
Subs: Marcus Baines, Anthony Walker, Jordan Case, Joe Bate.