SAINTS U19s accomplished their goal at Langtree Park on Thursday evening securing second spot in the table with a commanding 40-12 display and a second win in a month over derby rivals Warrington, writes Graham Henthorne.
The reward is a trip to the Halliwell Jones in a fortnight for yet another dual but the stakes then are not two league points but a trip direct to the Grand Final.
Confidence for that game will be high after such a complete performance over the visitors. The Saints were only really troubled for two five minute periods in each half both of which were due to poor play from themselves.
The opening quarter saw the Saints pack set their stall out producing twice as much possession as the Wolves with a combination of punishing runs and bone crushing defence.
The opening set saw Greg Richards and Luke Thompson batter their way into the Wolves line carrying the message that this was going to be long old evening for them.
The opening score came via a piece of sublime skill from Lewis Charnock after a Wolves knock on had given the Saints a scrum on the Wolves 30. Thompson and Matty Fozard were stopped short and on the last Charnock chipped the ball to the corner for Lewis Galbraith to catch and touch down unopposed.
The visitors were trying to slow down the Saints play the ball but were pinged for two consecutive penalties which put the Saints on the front foot. Fozard, Thompson and Savelio were stopped short on the left but as the ball was spread right each man engaged their opposite number before Matty Fleming put Adam Saunders in at the corner.
The Wolves opened their account courtesy of a cross kick after two silly penalties had gifted them position but this was a minor blip on Saints’ radar as normal service was resumed with the reintroduction off the bench of Richards. From their own 20 metre restart the Saints marched down field and quick hands from Thompson and Ricky Bailey put Fleming in at the corner. Charnock missed his only conversion of the night to leave a 10 point gap at the break.
“Keep them out and you’ve won” was the call at the break but the opening few minutes saw that go out of the window as poor tackling allowed the visitors to stroll 70 metres down the middle for a simple try under the sticks and a reduction in the lead to four points.
However, the wind was taken out of the Wolves sails with a lucky try for Jonah Cunningham. A Charnock chip to the corner on the last was fumbled by the winger after a great chase and challenge from Morgan Knowles. The ball bobbled about until Cunningham managed to touch down his own kick before it rolled dead.
The very next set saw a great kick chase from Saunders and he was rewarded with a repeat set. The Saints were again dominating possession and territory and after another strong drive from Richards Cunningham burrowed his way through four defenders for his second.
The Saints survived a ten minutes spell down to twelve men when Charnock was rather harshly sin binned for tackling the man after the call of held and on his return cut loose to score two classic tries.
The first was a 60 metres scamper down the right form Saunders outpacing the winger to score, the second a remarkable 80 metre run down the middle of the pitch from Thompson. He charged onto the ball like every prop should burst through the line then proceeded to ignore the cries of his support and take on and beat first the full back and then both wingers covering back to score at the sticks in front of the adoring West Stand.
As satisfying as this performance and victory was the Saints know that they will have to go up a notch in a fortnight as they face the Wolves yet again. But there has to be a nagging doubt in the minds of every Wolves player that of the four matches they’ve lost this season half of them have been comfortable defeats at the hands of the Saints.
Tries: Adam Saunders 2, Matty Fleming, Lewis Galbraith, Luke Thompson, Jonah Cunningham 2.
Goals: Lewis Charnock 6.
Tries: Toby King, Ryan Maneely.
Goals: Declan Patton 2.
Half Time: 16-6
Full Time: 40-12
1. Ricky Bailey; 2. Adam Saunders, 4. Matty Fleming, 3. Jake Spedding, 5. Lewis Galbraith; 6. Danny Richardson, 7. Dave Hewitt; 8. Greg Richards, 9. Lewis Charnock, 10. Luke Thompson, 11. Olly Davies, 12. André Savelio, 13. Matty Fozard.
Subs: 14. Jonah Cunningham, 15. Morgan Knowles, 17. Joe Ryan, 19. Phil Atherton.
1. Declan Kay; 2. Jack Johnson, 3. Harvey Livett, 4. Toby King, 5. Jake Eccleston; 6. Declan Patton, 7. Louis Jouffret; 32. Tom Walker, 9. Ryan Maneely, 10. George King, 11. James Jones,
12. Sam Wilde, 13. Andy Philbin.
Subs: 14. Robert Holroyd, 15. Alex Whalley, 16. Daniel Murray, 17. Daniel Hurst.