Brave 19s Lose Final

SAINTS didn’t quite manage to take the Academy title losing 22-10 out to their hosts, writes Graham Henthorne.

In truth the Saints were never really at the races allowing their hosts too much room, often finding themselves coming off their own line or having to make too many tackles in defence.

They found themselves six points down early doors as the hosts went in taking advantage of a missed tackle.

The Saints hit back straight from the kick off forcing a knock on 20 metres from the line. The ball was spun left on the fourth tackle finding Matty Costello who unfortunately slipped just as he was about to step his way over and the chance was lost.

The Saints grew in confidence from this and started to exert some pressure as the half went on.

On 20 minutes that pressure tolled and the Saints opened their account. A Rob Fairclough grubber in the left corner was knocked on and regathered by the Saints. Matty Lees and Morgan Knowles took the ball in hard only to be stopped short but again the ball was spread left and quick hands from Danny Richardson to Fairclough and then to Ben Morris saw the big second row over untouched. Richardson’s conversion put the Saints level

Then the big turning point in the match. Bolstered by scoring the Saints took the kick off and on the second a great short ball put Morgan Knowles in the clear. He sprinted away but as he approached the full back cleverly slowed to allow the supporting Josh Eaves to reach him. Eaves took the pass then again found Knowles as the full back was beaten. Three on one and with only one pass to give to the backs out wide and Knowles finds his path to them blocked by the referee who was directly in line with the pass and had been for the past 20 meters. He was forced to pass inside and the cover shut the move down.

On the half hour the Saints then found themselves on the back of three penalties on the run which marched the hosts to within 15 metres of the Saints line. However, the Saints defensive line was dragged back to start on the goal line and was still being marshalled by the referee when the tap had already been taken. From the resultant disarray the Saints conceded the lead to a barge over on the line.

At the break confidence was high that sticking to the game plan had already produced two chances and would produce more and that better discipline would reduce the 8 – 4 penalty count giving the Saints less to do in defence.

However, a 20% completion rate compared to a flawless 100% put the Saints again on the back foot and two tries in the first 15 minutes sealed the Saints fate.

In between Ben Morris was agonisingly held up over the line but just couldn’t reach out to score.

The Saints tried hard finishing the better forcing their hosts into a series of mistakes but despite a try from Dave Eccleston, a result of interplay down the right between him and his centre Jake Spedding, they had left themselves too much to do.

The hooter put a disappointing end to a game in which the Saints looked generally off their best. It signalled the last game in the red vee at this level for Matty Fleming, Olly Davies, Ross McCauley and Captain Joe Ryan and we thank them for their efforts over the years.

Looking back in the cold light of day, at the start of the season and after the disastrous first game at Leeds the squad looked exactly what it was, quite young and inexperienced. You would have been excused for thinking that this season might have turned out to be a bit of a ‘building towards next year’ type of season.

But this group of players would have none of that and from the second game against London they grew as individuals and as a group and under the leadership of those older players mentioned earlier and especially Captain Joe Ryan they turned into a formidable side who achieved as a team probably more than they should.

The vast majority of the squad are still together. Couple that with the experience that will be gained by the younger members and those from the U16s who will be moving up, from the upcoming tour to Australia and the rest of the League should be fearing this side already for next year.

Match Summary:


Tries: Shelford, Jones, M. Davies, Fell

Goals: Gregson (3 from 4)


Tries: Morris, Eccleston

Goals: Richardson (1 from 2)


Warriors: 10

Saints: 5


1. Gabriel Fell; 2. Liam Marshall, 3. Liam Paisley, 4. Macauley Davies, 5. Tom Davies; 6. Nick Gregson, 7. Lewis Heckford; 8. Joe Bretherton, 9. Luke Waterworth, 10. Kieran Sherratt, 11. Jack Wells, 12. Callum Field, 13. Kyle Shelford.

Subs: 15. Josh Ganson, 16. Sam Brady, 17. Paddy Jones, 19. Brad Lawrence.

18. Ricky Bailey; 2. Dave Eccleston, 3. Jake Spedding, 4. Matty Fleming, 16. Matty Costello; 6. Danny Richardson, 7. Rob Fairclough; 23. Levy Nzoungou, 9. Josh Eaves, 11. Olly Davies, 13. Morgan Knowles, 12. Liam Cooper, 21. Joe Ryan.

Subs: 8. Ross McCauley, 10. Matty Lees, 15. Ben Morris, 17. Jonah Cunningham.

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