Agony for Saints U16s

IN total contrast to the heroics of the first team the night before the Saints produced a perfect display of how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at Langtree Park on Saturday, writes Graham Henthorne.

Having come from behind three times to edge themselves in front with eight minutes to go, a couple of vital errors in their own half in the final three minutes gifted Wigan a 30-26 the win.

The Saints started sluggishly with the weight of the previous defeats on their shoulders and were quickly eight points behind despite Dan Heslop saving a certain try.

But the game on game improvement shown by the team as the season has progressed again came to the fore sparked by Rob Fairclough. It was the scrum half that dummied his way through the line which led to the opening score for the Saints. Granted if he’d gone for the corner instead of stepping inside he’d have scored himself. But having shipped the ball to the right the Saints showed quick hands from Kieran O’Mara and Lewis Furlong moving it back left on the last and sending Carl Keoghan in at the corner.

The Saints were visibly buoyed by this and took the lead within three minutes. From an error the Saints had an attacking scrum on the 10 metre line. Two tackles later and full back Matthew Costello is charging over the line off a Fairclough pass.

The Saints held the ascendency for a good ten minute spell but almost self destructed as the interval approached. Poor tackling let the prop in virtually unopposed and when the kick off went out on the full yet more weak tackling allowed the winger to take four over from close to the line.

However, a new found steel meant that again the Saints came back levelling the game on the whistle. A superb interception saw Jack Highcock go 90 metres outpacing the cover and strolling around to the front of the sticks.

The second half started with the Saints again taking the game to the opposition but going behind to another soft try from dummy half after the defensive line had been disrupted by injuries.

But the Saints came back strongly once more. Great kicking from Fairclough and Josh Eaves gained three repeat sets on the visitor’s line. The pressure finally tolled as Lewis Furlong took advantage of some great passing to sprint into the corner.

The Saints had the visitors on the ropes and took the lead due to a great piece of trickery from Matthew Costello. He dummied the grubber on the last before slinging a miss pass out to Furlong. The centre did his job committing his opposite number before feeding Carl Keoghan who won the race to the corner. Crucially Furlong couldn’t repeat his excellent kicking of the first half missing both conversions which left the Saints clinging precariously to a two point lead.

Then came the two crucial errors in the Saints half which gifted the winning try in the final minute.

It’s little consolation after losing the big Derby game but there is genuine improvement in the squad of players. If they had shown the same guts and determination in the previous games they would have won both.

Mike Weldon turned in his usual good performance as did Kieran O’Mara and Rob Fairclough but best today was Josh Eaves who turned up everywhere and showed the never say die spirit required by the Saints.

Match Summary:
St Helens U16s:

Tries: Matthew Costello, Lewis Furlong, Carl Keoghan 2, Jack Highcock.
Goals: Lewis Furlong 3.

Wigan U16s:
Tries: Joel Verity 2, Brad Burgess, Jack Etchells, Sam Brady, Scott Houghton.
Goals: Lewis Heckford, Craig Mullen 2.

Half Time: 18-18
Full Time: 26-30


1. Matthew Costello; 2. Kevin Brown, 3. Daniel Heslop, 4. Lewis Furlong, 5. Carl Keoghan; 6. Jack Unsworth, 7. Rob Fairclough; 8. Jack Cottington, 9. Josh Eaves, 10. Mike Weldon, 11. Dan Keoghan, 12. Adam Causey, 13. Kieran O’Mara.
Subs: 14. Jack Highcock, 15. Dominic Mirfin, 16. Danny Lynch, 17. Loui Pauls, 18. Brad Billsborough, 19. Callum Hazzard.

1. Lewis Heckford; 2. Joel Verity, 3. Brad Burgess, 4. Karle Hunt, 5. Jack Etchells; 6. Josh Woods, 7. Cameron Connolly; 8. Max Dudley, 9. Craig Mullen, 10. Sam Brady, 11. Callum Field, 12. Iestyn Ball, 13. Jack Wells.
Subs: 14. Ste Sherwood, 15. Scott Houghton, 16. Oliver Partington, 17. Dec O’Donnell, 18. Sammy Kibula.

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