SAINTS hung on for a 16-0 win over Hull KR in terrible conditions at Langtree Park on Friday evening but it was a victory built on dogged defence rather than any attacking flair normally attributed to the Saints, writes Graham Henthorne.
The Saints were on the wrong end of a 7 – 1 penalty count in the first half and that coupled with a completion rate of less than 30% in the opening quarter of an hour meant very few scoring opportunities came their way.
However, as soon as they strung some sets together they looked dangerous and the Rovers defence started to struggle.
The one and only penalty actually resulted in the opening score as drives from Greg Richards and James Tilley gave the Saints great field position. From the play the ball Connor Dwyer spun out of the tackle to plunge over under the sticks.
The one thing that did go well for the Saints was the kicking game. The two Lewis’ Charnock and Foster’s long kicking regularly forced the visitors into coming off their own line and Dave Hewitt’s short kicking gave the Saints numerous repeat sets, invaluable in bad weather.
The Saints increased their lead from just such a repeat set, however, there was a touch of good fortune about it. Poor passing found the Saints going backwards until the ball was picked up by Lewis Galbraith on the wing. Somehow he twisted out of the tackle, beat 2 more and took one over while sliding into the corner.
The run of completed sets dried up and so did the points as the Saints fell abck down to Rovers level and became embroiled in an arm wrestle.
The only ray of light came after a Matt Coooke drive to the line. From the quick play the ball Matty Fozard darted in from dummy half to extend the lead.
Charnock’s second goal completed the scoring for the half, but no-one thought it would be the last score of the game.
The second half unfortunately deteriorated even further than the first as both sides failed to hold on to the ball. The penalty count continued to rise against the Saints and they failed to put the visitors under any sustained pressure.
It was fully 25 minutes before the Saints made anything like a break and even then the ball was knocked on from forced passes.
A game for the committed is probably the best description and just as well the Saints have a good defence as the inability to look after the ball meant that the Saints spent many minutes tackling.
Where is the attacking flair of earlier in the season? Well wherever it’s gone it’s going to have to be found again and quick as no team can hope to win against the better team swith a solid defence alone.
Lewis Galbraith took his try very well and was always the first to drive the ball away from his own line but yet again Greg Richards and James Tilley outshone most.
Tries: Lewis Galbraith, Connor Dwyer, Matty Fozard.
Goals: Lewis Charnock 2.
Hull KR U19s:
Half Time: 16-0
Full Time: 16-0
1. Adam Saunders; 2. Lewis Galbraith, 4. Greg Wilde, 3. Mark Percival, 5. Ben Parry; 6. Lewis Charnock, 7. Dave Hewitt; 8. Greg Richards, 9. Lewis Foster, 10. James Tilley, 11. Luke Thompson, 12. Jack Ashworth, 13. Connor Dwyer.
Subs: 14. Matty Fozard, 15. Olly Davies, 17. Matt Cooke, 21. Adam Hesketh.
1. Connor Robinson; 2. Jack Stewart, 3. Dave Harrison, 4. Macauley Hallett, 5. Alex Gilby; 6. Matty Marsh, 7. Matty Beharrell; 8. Tom Sullivan, 9. Ryan Devaney, 21. Steve Holker, 11. Aiden Armstrong, 12. Harry Aldous, 10. Scott Ellerington.
Subs: 14. Macauley Duke, 17. Elliot Kerry, 19. Josh Hamilton, 20. Craig Smith.