FOR a time there was a feeling of Groundhog Day around this match. The opposition were held up in traffic and only arrived 12 minutes before the original kick off time, Saints had to make a late change due to injury in the warm-up and then couldn’t complete a set of six in the opening 20 minutes, writes Graham Henthorne.
Thankfully after that the comparisons ended and the Saints ran out comfortable 44-8 winners.
But, inevitably it seems, the Saints allowed their opponents to open the scoring having bombed two chances themselves.
However, as soon as they hung onto the ball the match swung in the Saints favour.
Joe Greenwood scored the opening try taking Dom Speakman’s short pass and crashing over. Lee Gaskell’s first conversion of the evening gave the Saints a lead they never relinquished.
Greg Wilde extended the lead taking Mark Percival’s pass after the centre had cashed in on a Broncos error.
The centre scored his first of the evening minutes later from a repeat set. Another pinpoint Danny Yates kick was grounded in goal by the Broncos after a great chase from the returning Ade Gardner. Gaskell grubbered through the line on the last and Percival touched down.
Saints fourth try came after good kick pressure from the Saints forced the last tackle kick out on the full. From the restart Greenwood and Ant Walker both went close before quick hands saw Gaskell put Adam Swift in the right corner.
The Saints then showed exactly what controlled rugby league can do to a side as they upped the completion rate from 60% to 88% and completely dominated the Broncos.
Apart from a blip on the hour when poor defence let big second row Jack Dillon through on a 60 metre run, the Saints were squeaky clean.
Percival’s second try six minutes into the half effectively put the game to bed. Adam Hesketh, a late replacement for Danny Jones was stopped short only for Gaskell to again grubber the ball behind the line for his centre to touch down.
Ade Gardner got on the score sheet leaping high to pluck Yates’ cross kick out of the grasp of his opposite number for a trademark try before leaving the field, his work done for the night.
Percival completed his hat-trick with a well taken try in the corner after Scott Hale and Brad Ashurst had driven the Saints downfield.
Hale scored the Saints final try scorching through the line from Walker’s short ball and rounding the full back for a fine individual try.
The good and the bad of the Saints was again on show tonight but they can take heart from the performance and know that if they put it together for 80 minutes they can be a match for anyone, namely the Wolves next weekend in the playoffs.
There was a notable debut off the bench for Brad Ashurst who carried the ball well as did Adam Hesketh but the kicking from the trio of Nathan Ashe, Danny Yates and Lee Gaskell was the cornerstone of the victory.
St Helens U20s:
Tries: Ade Gardner, Adam Swift, Mark Percival 3, Greg Wilde, Scott Hale, Joe Greenwood.
Goals: Lee Gaskell 6.
Tries: Michael Channing, Jack Dillon.
Half Time: 22-4
Full Time: 44-8
1. Lee Gaskell; 5. Ade Gardner, 4. Adam Swift, 3. Mark Percival, 2. Greg Wilde; 6.Nathan Ashe, 7. Danny Yates; 8.
Jordan Hand, 9. Dom Speakman, 10. Anthony Walker, 11. Scott Hale, 12. Joe Greenwood, 18. Jordan Case.
Subs: 14. Marcus Baines, 15. Alex Trumper, 16. Adam Hesketh, 17. Brad Ashurst.
1. Oscar Thomas; 5. James Morgan, 3. Illiess Macani, 4. Michael Channing, 2. Harvey Burnett; 6. Dan Sarginson, 7. James Woodburn-Hall; 18. Ash Smith, 9. Mikey Bishay, 10. Paddy Mooney, 11. Jack Dillon, 12. Angus Peters, 13. Alex Ingarfield.
Subs: 14. Jack Molloy, 15. Alex Calvert, 16. Sam Bolger, 17. Ryan Dowsett.