Warrington Wolves U20s 42 v 22 St Helens U20s
If only you could wind time back and have it over again? If you could there’s no doubt that the Saints would have won this semi-final. As poor as they were in the first half they were much better in the second and had their hosts more than worried, writes Graham Henthorne.
With eight minutes to go the Saints had clawed their way back to within four points and with a little more composure they could have pressed home their advantage.
The hosts opened the scoring after five minutes but the Saints came roaring back to take the lead due to a Joe Greenwood try. The big second row took Danny Yates’ short ball and pushed through the line to reach over.
But then the Saints went away from the game plan and gifted the Wolves three tries in a damaging ten minute period.
Despite this the game could have changed in the Saints favour just before the break, however as it was it turned to the Wolves.
A great penalty touch finder from Lee Gaskell put the Saints on the attack. Quick hands from right to left saw Greg Wilde into the corner only to be pegged back for a forward pass from his centre Mark Percival.
From the scrum the Wolves fumbled behind their line but Nathan Ashe knocked on in the act of scoring.
From the restart the Wolves went down the other end to put the Saints 20 points behind at the break.
Coach Ian Talbot challenged his side to do themselves justice in the final 40 minutes and he got an immediate response.
Drives from Scott Hale and Anthony Walker put the Saints close then as the ball was worked left Gaskell grubbered the ball to the corner for Wilde to score.
Wilde was again involved in the build up to the Saints next score. It was his run down the left which got the Saints close. Quick hands to the right saw Ashe put Gaskell away and the full back ghosted around his opposite number to score.
On the hour the Saints were within inches of another score as first James Tilley reached out to the line and then Jordan Hand was adjudged to have been held up.
Adam Swift brought the Saints to within one score of the Wolves as he again took an Ashe pass to drift past his opposite number into the corner.
Crucially Gaskell missed his second conversion, so when the Wolves scored straight from a Saints mistake the lead was back to 10.
The Saints had a head of steam now and came straight back at the still staggering Wolves.
Alex Trumper was held short of the line but from the play the ball Joe Greenwood came on a delightful run back on the angle and strolled under the posts.
The Saints, roared on by the travelling Airlie Birds, were still pounding the Wolves line but were just starting to tire a little.
A tired set of six saw the clock wind down and the Saints pushed the pass too much on their next set allowing the home side two late tries giving the score an artificially inflated one.
As ever Hand and Walker worked tirelessly as did Jordan Case and Alex Trumper when they came on. Gaskell, Ashe and Adam Swift had better second halves but the Saints had just left themselves too much to do. Frustrating really ‘cos it could have been so much different.
Tries: Jordan Burke 2, James Saltonstall 3, Ryan Shaw, James Mendieka, Ben Evans.
Goals: Ryan Shaw 3, Bobbie Goulding 2.
Tries: Lee Gaskell, Adam Swift, Greg Wilde, Joe Greenwood 2.
Goals: Lee Gaskell 3.
Half Time: 6-26
Full Time: 26-42
31. Jordan Burke; 36. James Saltonstall, 3. Rhys Evans, 28. Ryan Shaw, 2. Rhys Williams; 30. James Mendieka, 6. Bobbie Goulding; 35. Glenn Riley, 33. Brad Dwyer, 25. Ben Evans, 27. James Laithwaite, 32. Ben Currie, 13. Matty Blythe.
Subs: 9. Liam Hulme, 10. Jack Morrison, 29. Danny Bridge, 37. Brooke Broughton.
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. Ant Walker, 11. Scott Hale, 12. Joe Greenwood, 13. Danny Jones.
Subs: 14. Marcus Baines, 15. James Tilley, 17. Jordan Case, 19. Alex Trumper.