WITH four of their more experienced members in the First Team squad this evening it was always going to be a young and inexperienced side that took on the Rhinos in tonight’s curtain raiser, writes Graham Henthorne.
Indeed Chris Worrall made his debut off the bench whilst Morgan Knowles made his full and Langtree debut starting today’s game at loose forward after impressing off the bench last week at Wakefield.
The Saints were in the game until the dying minutes and had a right to feel hard done to as the game turned on two contentious try scoring issues – Leeds winning 30-20.
The Saints started brightly going ten points clear with two quick fire tries in the opening 15 minutes.
Firstly, Lewis Galbraith stole the ball one on one from his opposite number on the Saints 40. He ran cross field before feeding on to Danny Richardson. He took it on, put Matty Fleming through with a delightful short ball and then watched the centre draw the full back before feeding his winger Dave Eccleston to go the final 20 for the score.
From the kick off a good set, kick down field and great chase was rewarded with possession after a big hit from Knowles forced the knock on. Dave Hewitt picked up the pieces scoring to the left of the posts.
That’s the time when experienced sides settle things and do the basics right. Unfortunately, with knock on from the kick off this Saints team invited the Rhinos straight back into it, and they’re too good a team to say no.
Sustained pressure forced a knock on from the Saints but as the ball was moved left there was a suspicion of obstruction as the Rhinos opened their account.
One of the Academy’s most improved players this season, Ross McCauley, made a break on the visitors 20 but his support got to him too late and the chance was lost.
The Saints hung on to their lead until a minute before the break when a poor last tackle kick went out on the full and four tackles later the Rhinos took the lead.
With Aaron Smith ruled out at half time with a jaw injury and Lewis Charnock withdrawn to go on 18th man duty for the First Team it was his deputy Dan Abram who dropped the high bomb to give the Rhinos an easy try to start the second period.
And when they scored again collecting a neat chip over the line on the last it looked like the game could be going away from the Saints.
But they dug deep and took the game to the visitors. Quick hands from Abram put Fleming away down the right wing and his overhead pass found Eccleston inside and the winger went in at the sticks to give Hewitt an easy conversion to put the Saints back in it.
Then came the second contentious issue as big McAuley looked nailed on to score under the sticks as he slammed the ball down over the line. But the referee ruled he had been held up and the chance was gone.
Undaunted the Saints continued to pile the pressure on to the visibly wilting Rhinos and on the third repeat set were rewarded with their fourth try of the night.
McCauley went close again and from the play the ball it was spread right where Knowles crashed through the line for a deserved try. Crucially Hewitt missed the goal but the Saints were back within one score.
The Saints had the Rhinos pinned in their own 20 only for an overenthusiastic Richardson to give away a penalty when another repeat set could have seen them crack.
That was all the encouragement they needed as they worked their way downfield, forced the error and then punished the tiring Saints with the winning try two minutes from time.
Knowles, McCauley, Phil Atherton and Olly Davies were good for the Saints for whom a tad more direction would have seen the unbeaten record continue.
Tries: Dave Hewitt, David Eccleston 2, Morgan Knowles.
Goals: Lewis Charnock, Dave Hewitt.
Tries: Ben White, Robbie Ward, Josh Walters, Brad England, Ben Frankland.
Goals: Jordan Lilley 5.
Half Time: 10-12
Full Time: 20-30
1. Lewis Charnock; 2. David Eccleston, 4. Matty Fleming, 3. Jake Spedding, 5. Lewis Galbraith; 6. Danny Richardson, 7. Dave Hewitt; 8. Phil Atherton, 9. Matty Fozard, 10. Joe Ryan, 11. Liam Cooper, 12. Olly Davies, 13. Morgan Knowles.
Subs: 14. Aaron Smith, 16. Chris Worrall, 17. Ross McCauley, 18. Dan Abram.
1. Ashton Golding; 2. Billy McDermott, 3. Ash Handley, 4. Jordan Harper, 5. Tommy Brierley; 6. Ben White, 7. Jordan Lilley; 8. George Milton, 9. Robbie Ward, 10. Robbie Mulhern, 11. Josh Walters, 12. Brad England, 13. Elliot Minchella.
Subs: 14. Ben Frankland, 15. Matty Stableford, 16. Nyle Flynn, 17. Dan Grange.