SAINTS started their 2015 U16s season in the same style as last year, in freezing conditions at Thatto Heath and with a 34-14 defeat to Leeds.
However, there the similarity ends as this year was a very different display.
The Saints let themselves down in the opening minutes five or ten minutes of each half allowing the Rhinos to score twice in each half making it much easier for them to play on the front foot and giving the Saints a mountain to climb.
But climb it they did despite a massive penalty count against meaning they had to do much more than their fair share of defending.
Once they managed to put the visitors under pressure the Rhinos wilted and the Saints came into their own.
With half backs Ben Heyes and Elliott Jenkins running the show out wide and Captain Brad Pinder bringing the big props Jordan Olmez and Jorge Lewtas onto the ball the Saints took the game to the visitors.
Pinder was denied the opening score on 22 minutes when he was tackled at the line. In truth he should’ve passed out to the unmarked Kevin Brown who would’ve fallen over the line but he did manage to keep the ball alive and the Saints got a repeat set. From the play the ball Jenkins gave it to Brown and the full back reached out to plant the ball over the whitewash.
Saints got their second in as many minutes on the next set as the impressive Jordan Gibbons took Heyes’ towering bomb from the hands of the full back, passed it to Brown who got it out to winger Alex Burke and he stepped inside the cover to score.
Burke was denied his second on the half hour as a miss pass which would’ve seen him in opposed went into touch.
The wind took both Gibbons’ kicks wide but the Saints were within touching distance at the break.
Unfortunately a serious injury to Jenkins meant that the influential scrum half couldn’t continue and the Saints missed him immensely in the second period as they again tried to come back.
Harry Coleman got the Saints back within striking distance as he strolled under the sticks after the full back had spilled another towering Heyes bomb but that was as good as it got.
The Rhinos scored twice more in the final ten minutes to give the score a slightly flattering look.
There were some good displays off the bench from Danny Edwards, Alex Eckley, Tom Pinder and especially Ben Twist whilst Callum Hazzard and Cameron Brown worked hard. Best for the Saints on the day were Ben Heyes and the mazy running of Kevin Brown who always caused problems for the visitors bringing the ball out of defence.
St Helens U16s:
Tries: Kevin Brown, Alex Burke, Harry Coleman.
Goals: Jordan Gibbons.
Tries: Kiedan Hartley 2, Harvey Whiteley, Cameron Smith 2, Luke Naughton.
Goals: Jack Walker 5.
Half Time: 8-10
Full Time: 14-34
1. Kevin Brown; 2. Jacob Cummings, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Jordan Gibbons, 5. Alex Burke; 6. Lewis Gartland, 7. Elliot Jenkins; 8. Jordan Olmez, 9. Brad Pinder (C), 10. Jorge Lewtas, 11. Harry Coleman, 12. Chris Follin, 13. Callum Hazzard.
Subs: 14. Ben Heyes, 15. Danny Edwards, 16. Alex Eckley, 17. Ben Twist, 19. Jack Grimes, 20. Tom Pinder.
1. Kiedan Hartley; 2. Harry Newman, 3. Nathan Waring, 4. Alex Sutcliffe, 5. Alex Young; 6. George Senior, 7. Jack Walker; 8. Tom Hall, 9. Harvey Whiteley, 10. Mikolaj Oledski, 11. Spencer Darley, 12. Dyson Nicholson, 13. Cameron Smith (C).
Subs: 14. Alex Ward, 15. Loui McConnell, 16. Luke Naughton, 17. Kieron Hainsworth, 18. Tyron Travis.