A YOUTHFUL Saints slipped to their fourth defeat in a row as they lost 21-14 to London Broncos at the Twickenham Stoop.
Missing ten first team players and losing Adam Swift in the first half they fought back from an eight point deficit to almost pull it off at the death.
They led 10-6 at half time as Anthony Laffranchi and Adam Swift broke the tough Broncos defence.
‘Boof’ took a short pass to put them ahead before Swift got his eighth in the Red V following great work from Nathan Ashe and Alex Walmsley.
London got back in it with a great Chris Bailey score before a disjointed Saints galvanised and held out until half time.
In the second half, Broncos hit Saints twice in 10 minutes only for Paul Wellens to round off a fine length of the field move involving Josh Jones and Mark Percival.
But the boot of Michael Witt proved the difference as he added a penalty and drop goal late on to seal the win.
Saints handed a debut to Luke Thompson on his 18th birthday and brought in Nathan Ashe to partner Lance Hohaia in the halves.
Anthony Laffranchi was named in the second row with Sia Soliola.
But they were still missing Francis Meli, Jon Wilkin and Ade Gardner through suspension, whilst James Roby, Jonny Lomax, Josh Perry, Willie Manu, Mark Flanagan, Anthony Walker and Gary Wheeler were unavailable through injury.
Both sides started with strong sets until a knock on gave London good attacking position.
The ball went to ground though and moments later both sides exchanged knock ons.
The Broncos were laying the foundations and when Will Lovell made a great run, Tommy Lee and Craig Gower almost unlocked the defence.
Tommy Makinson took a high ball and then a bullocking run from Tony Puletua had Nathan Ashe on his shoulder.
On 17 minutes, Anthony Laffranchi plunged over, goaled by Mark Percival.
And three minutes later Ashe broke through, Alex Walmsley took it up and fired a great ball out for Josh Jones to feed Adam Swift for his third of the season.
Unfortunately, he was taken off on a stretcher as James Mendeika went in late and was placed on report.
Chris Bailey replied to get London back into it before Saints’ Stuart Howarth went close.
And the home side did well to dislodge the ball from Soliola as he came steaming in for a try late on.
In the second half, Michael Robertson took advantage of poor discipline to forge ahead before Saints just about quelled a kick to the corner.
Tommy Lee then took full advantage when Sarginson intercepted Lance Hohaia’s pass.
Saints kept knocking at the door and got back into it when Josh Jones linked with Mark Percival to go the full length of the field and put Paul Wellens in.
The visitors then had chances to make the comeback complete but lacked the final pass.
And Witt duly hit a penalty and a drop goal to kill off their hopes.
Tries: Bailey, Robertson, Lee
Goals: Witt (4 from 4)
Tries: Laffranchi, Swift, Wellens
Goals: Percival (1 from 2), Makinson (0 from 1)
REF: Tim Roby
5. Michael Robertson; 3. Jamie O’Callaghan, 29. James Mendeika, 19. Dan Sarginson, 21. Kieran Dixon; 6. Michael Witt, 7. Craig Gower; 8. Antonio Kaufusi, 23. Tommy Lee, 18. Olsi Krasniqi, 22. Will Lovell, 12. Chris Bailey, 20. Matt Cook.
Subs: 1. Luke Dorn, 10. Mark Bryant, 26. Ben Fisher, 27. Erjon Dollapi.
21. Tom Makinson; 26. Adam Swift, 3. Jordan Turner, 19. Josh Jones, 30. Mark Percival; 23. Nathan Ashe, 6. Lance Hohaia; 11. Tony Puletua, 36. Stuart Howarth, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 4. Sia Soliola, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 1. Paul Wellens.
Subs: 16. Paul Clough, 25. Alex Walmsley, 33. Luke Thompson, 35. Lewis Charnock.