THE Saints came from behind to record a great 34-29 victory over a strong Wildcats team sprinkled with ex NRL stars, writes Graham Henthorne.
The Saints got off to their by now customary, if frustrating, start by conceding within the first minute, the Wildcats punishing Gary Wheeler’s dropped kick off.
It took a while for the Saints to find their feet against the enthusiastic Wildcats but they drew level after a piece of poor play from the home side. A last tackle kick from Danny Yates was taken over the touchline under no pressure by the Wildcats winger giving the Saints a scrum on the 10 metre line.
The ball was worked to the right for Captain Carl Forster to drive over to bring the scores level.
The Saints deserved to go ahead but a great short ball from Shaun Magennis which put Nathan Ashe through the line was adjudged forward. However, the Saints bench were directly in line and were of a different opinion!
Immediately the home side took advantage of the situation and broke through some flimsy tackling to score.
The Saints went further behind after 23 minutes finally succumbing to an Isaac John sidestep on the third set of six in a row.
But the final ten minutes of the half belonged to the Saints as they finally managed to hang onto the ball enough to put the home side under pressure.
A quickly taken penalty on the Wildcats 30 metre line was taken on by Forster but passed out to Ashe. His quick pass put Magennis through and he returned the favour with a deft pass out of the back of the hand to put Ashe under the posts. Lewis Charnock took over the kicking and kicked the first of his five out of five.
Adam Swift put the Saints level scooping up a loose ball and showing a clean pair of heels to the chasing pack as he races 60 metres to the sticks.
A measure of the respect this comeback had produced was the fact that John kicked a drop goal on the half time whistle.
The Saints were disappointed with their first half display but took heart from only being one point down knowing that anything like their best would produce the goods.
The Saints should have taken the lead as another Magennis short ball put Ashe away but Wheeler decided to cut back inside when maybe he should have backed himself.
So it was the Wildcats who actually increased their lead as a wicked bounce fell into the winger’s hands and he rounded the defence for the score.
A great set out of defence put the Wildcats on the back foot and allowed Swift the space to step off both feet to score on a 60 metre run.
Then debutant Matty Fozzard had a try controversially disallowed. From the kick off Nathan Ashe gathered the ball from a Wildcat knock back but Scott Hale was harshly adjudged to have impeded the catcher.
This galvanised the Saints who took it to the rapidly wilting home side. On the last Danny Yates put up a great bomb which Jordan Case plucked out of the air after leaping higher than the cover.
The Saints were flying now. Wheeler had another try harshly ruled out for a marginal obstruction on his way to the line but Yates increased the lead with a fabulous individual effort.
With the defence waiting for the kick he dummied to Swift but scythed through the line on an arcing run then came back inside the full back to the posts for the try.
The final 15 minutes was a nervy affair as injuries and a mounting penalty count meant that the Saints spent most of it defending their own line. But, as it was only broken once, the Saints managed to hang on for a great win.
Swift and Ashe showed glimpses of the flair both have in abundance but as ever Forster, Magennis showing fabulous touch for a big man, Jordan Hand and Ant Walker, who did a 65 minute stint were the foundation of the win.
Tries: Gareth Croft, Sam Fletcher, Isaac John, Steve Southern 2.
Goals: Jordan Grayston 4.
Drop Goals: Isaac John.
Tries: Adam Swift 2, Nathan Ashe, Danny Yates, Carl Forster, Jordan Case.
Goals: Lewis Charnock 5.
Half Time: 16-17
Full Time: 34-29
1. Jordan Grayston; 2. Gareth Croft, 3. Sam Parkin, 4. Josh Hardcastle, 5. Sam Fletcher; 6. Isaac John, 7. Danny Ansell; 8. Adam Gledhill, 9. Ryan Wright, 10. Tom Lillycrop, 11. Adam Slater, 12. Kyle Trout, 13. Steve Southern.
Subs: 14. Jordan Lowther, 15. Jake Joynt, 16. Declan Storey, 17. Andy Tate.
17. Gary Wheeler; 2. James Hill, 3. Adam Swift, 4. Alex Trumper, 5. Lewis Charnock; 6. Nathan Ashe, 7. Danny Yates; 8. Shaun Magennis, 9. Lewis Foster, 10. Carl Forster, 12. Joe Greenwood, 11. Scott Hale, 13. Danny Jones.
Subs: 14. Matty Fozzard, 15. Jordan Case, 19. Ant Walker, 20. Jordan Hand.