Huddersfield Giants U18s 36 v 34 St Helens U18s
The Saints finished much the stronger in this their final game of the season but unfortunately a well below par first half performance had left them with too much to do, writes Graham Henthorne.
The Giants set the tone for much of the first half scoring easily on their first possession. A great first set for the Saints was finished with a great chase but then poor tackling let the Giants full back through and five tackle later they were scoring.
The Saints hit back after a great dummy at the play the ball from Matty Fozard. He shoved his nose through just enough to offload to emergency standoff Lewis Foster who took it on to the full back before feeding the supporting Lewis Sheridan. The scrum half outpaced the cover to the posts for the score.
But poor tackling and lacklustre running gifted four tries to the home side in a golden 13 minute spell.
Only the wayward kicking of the Giants kept the Saints in it.
But somehow the Saints responded with two tries in the final four minutes of the half to keep themselves in the game.
Finally getting some repeat sets put the Giants under pressure. Two drives from Brad Ashurst saw the Saints on the attack and when Sheridan cleverly jinked away from the advancing defence he fed his centre Lewis Galbraith who went over for the score.
Sheridan again was at the heart of things as the diminutive scrum half again evaded the cover passing the ball on to Chris Carr who dummied his way through the line beating the full back for a well-deserved try.
The Saints got the best possible start to the second period as Cory Lee scored in the right corner. Jack White managed to get a pass out, just as he was about to be clattered, to his centre Fozard who jumped inside his opposite number before setting off down the line. He committed the full back fed it out to Lee who ran rings round the defence before touching down in the corner.
The Giants extended their lead, capitalising on a Saints knock on on half way, but this seemed to galvanise the Saints who started to run with their old vigour. Led by Matt Cooke and Greg Richards the forwards started to get on top and the home side started to crack.
Cooke’s drive and quick play the ball set Ashurst away and his offload gave Richards the chance to push through and reach over at the side of the posts. Unfortunately Fozard chipped his conversion against the gale of a wind and the ball screwed wide.
Richards’ prop partner Chris Webster on for his second stint of the match went over for the Saints sixth try. Another 20 metre burst from Cooke put the Saints on the move. From the play the ball Fozard grubbered behind the line and Webster pounced. Having learnt from his earlier error Fozard blasted the conversion and the scores were level.
The Giants, down to 12 men after having had their centre sin-binned for kicking the ball away from a restart, were starting to panic and knocked on at the half way line. A quick play the ball and quick hands from Fozard, Foster and Tom Roughley and Core Lee was racing down the touchline to amazingly put the Saints into an unlikely lead.
Unfortunately, the same centre came out of the sin bin broke through the defensive line and broke Saints’ hearts feeding his support for the winning try.
In truth it was nothing more than the Saints deserved as the home side were the better side overall, but having got that close to winning it was a bitter pill to swallow.
All the forwards were better second time around, Chris Carr showed well for the second game running but head and shoulders above the rest during a 30 minute stint was Tommy Holland.
Tries: Tom Jowitt, Jake Connor 2, Ben Whitehead, George King, Pete Aspinall 2.
Goals: Jack Miller 4.
Tries: Corey Lee 2, Lewis Galbraith, Lewis Sheridan, Chris Webster, Greg Richards, Chris Carr.
Goals: Matty Fozard 3.
Half Time: 16-24
Full Time: 34-36
1. Josh Hunt; 5. Kyle Mayall, 3. Jake Shoel, 4. Jake Connor, 2. Tom Jowitt; 6. Ben Whitehead, 7. Jack Miller; 8. Nathan Mason, 9. Sam Rochford, 10. Jack Blagborough, 11. George King, 12. Pete Aspinall, 13. Joel Farrell.
Subs: 14. Danny Maskell, 15. Lewis Graham, 16. Zak Dewhurst, 17. Dom Flanagan.
1. Jack White; 2. Corey Lee, 4. Tom Roughley, 18. Lewis Galbraith, 5. Leon Tatlock; 6. Lewis Foster, 7. Lewis Sheridan; 8. Chris Webster, 9. Matty Fozard, 10. Greg Richards, 11. Matt Wood, 12. Connor Dwyer, 13. Chris Carr.
Subs: 15. Mike Fields, 17. Brad Ashurst, 19. Tommy Holland, 20. Matt Cooke.