CONTROVERSY reigned at the Halton Stadium on Sunday as a last gasp equalising penalty from Jamie Foster was ruled out for offside despite sailing majestically through the posts. James Hill was said to be in front of Foster as he kicked it automatically ruling it out, writes Graham Henthorne.
Whilst technically correct it was a little harsh on the Reserves who had battled back from adversity to get themselves in front only to squander the lead again and ultimately lose 32-30.
The Saints got off to a slow start and were 10 points behind before really settling into any kind of game plan.
Then Nathan Ashe found himself held up over the line on the fifth tackle and from the restarted sixth the ball was moved wide left to Foster. The centre expertly stood up his opposite number before drawing the winger and putting Greg Wilde into the corner.
The Vikings tested the Saints edge defence all day finding it wanting and their lead was restored when Paddy Flynn went in at the corner.
The Saints continued to stutter in attack but a quick restart from Adam Swift (pictured) after a grubber in goal caught the hosts on the hop and he made good yards with a weaving run. The ball was taken on by Jordan Hand and Carl Forster before quick hands to the right saw Scott Hale put Swift away to finish what he started. Mr Reliable Foster added the extras and the Saints were right back in it at the break.
The second half was a see-saw affair with lead constantly changing hands.
A big hit on the second tackle after the restart from the human wrecking ball Hand gave the Saints the impetus to force the error from former Saints Kurt Haggerty. From the scrum the ball was moved left and Swift stepped inside twice to score a great try.
The hosts went back in front after another try on the overlap but were denied by some fabulous tackling from first Forster and Jordan Case and then Swift and Ashe.
The Saints then went 80 metres to again take the lead. The pack had made good ground down the middle of a tiring Vikings team when Ashe decided to run it on the last putting Scott Hale through the line and he found the supporting Danny Yates on the inside.
Then came a bizarre incident as the Saints had a scrum on their own 10 metre line. The ball went straight through, out the back and was pounced on by the Vikings for a try under the posts.
The winning try came after yet another penalty on the fourth or fifth tackle with the ball spread wide to the wing.
The Saints weren’t done though as Alex Trumper had a try disallowed for apparently putting a foot in touch as he slid into the corner.
From the kick off Aaron McCloskey drove the ball in hard then slipped a beautiful pass around the tackler to put James Hill away. Danny Jones took it on gave it to Yates and the scrum half chipped it over the defence to the line. He was tripped in the act but Foster was allowed to carry on and scored at the posts.
There was only a minute left when Ashe again saw space behind the line and chipped over. This time the referee gave the penalty, sin binning the player, only to disallow Foster’s goal.
In truth a draw would have been a fair result but it wasn’t to be. Walker, Forster and Hand led from the front as ever and Swift was a constant threat with ball in hand but the Saints needed a little bit of belief in themselves to take the spoils which sadly wasn’t there.
Tries: Paddy Flynn 2, Dec Hulme, Josh Crowley 2, Keith Holden, .
Goals: Danny Craven 4.
Tries: Adam Swift 2, Jamie Foster, Greg Wilde, Danny Yates.
Goals: Jamie Foster 5.
Half Time: 12-16
Full Time: 30-32
1. Chris Atkin; 5. Paddy Flynn, 4. Josh Crowley, 3. Dec Hulme, 2. Owen Livesey; 6. Danny Craven, 7. Grant Gore; 8. Brad Davies, 9. Keith Holden, 10. Alex Gerrard, 11. Liam Thompson, 12. McGraff Leuluai, 13. Kurt Haggerty.
Subs: 14. Sam Singleton, 15. Matty Norton, 16. Tom Kelly, 17. Ryan Stokes.
1. Adam Swift; 2. Jaydon Sandford, 4. Alex Trumper, 3. Jamie Foster, 5. Greg Wilde; 6. Nathan Ashe, 7. Danny Yates; 8. Ant Walker, 9. Dom Speakman, 10. Carl Forster, 12. Joe Greenwood, 11. Scott Hale, 13. Danny Jones.
Subs: 15. James Hill, 17. Jordan Case, 19. Aaron McCloskey, 20. Jordan Hand.