Academy Earn Winning Start

DAY 5 – Saints defeated Wests Tigers brydens Lawyers Academy 22-18 in an entertaining contest on Saturday night at Campbelltown Stadium.

St. Helens Academy have rarely lost on Australian soil since they began taking touring matches in 2004.

Losing just three of their 19 (tour games) to date – they quickly found their rhythm when Levy Nzoungou cut back against the grain to score after just five minutes.

Jordan Gibbons converting to give St. Helens an early 6-0 lead.

Wests Tigers Academy looked to have hit back when a superb intercept from Abdalla Matar saw the winger sprint away down the left touchline, but a fantastic last ditch tackle from Callum Hazard forced the speedster to drop the ball as he crossed the line.

The home side would finally cross for points after 12 minutes following a deft kick from Hosea Leuea, which saw fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen charge through the line to score.

Leuea was unable to convert, however, leaving the score 6-4 in favour of St. Helens, which is how it would read at the end of the first third of the special match.

Wests Tigers Academy would come out firing after the break, and quickly took the lead through Adam Rizk after 28 minutes.

Adam Doueihi’s successful conversion gave the home side a 10-6 lead, which is how it would remain for the next period of the match as a slew of attacking opportunities fell by the wayside for the home team.

After a superb individual effort in defence from Nathan Patolo stopped a certain try for St. Helens, Wests Tigers finally made their attacking advantage count when Hans Taala proved too strong close to the line and stretched out to score after 46 minutes.

Doueihi was unable to add the extras, leaving the score at 14-6.

The Saints youngsters dug in, defended really well and just before the end of the second third were able cross for a crucial four-pointer as Chris Follin crashed over next to the posts, cutting the home side’s lead to 14-12.

Despite the conditions and tiring legs, Saints were able to take the lead early in the final third, with Jack Unsworth capping off a bit of enterprising play close to the line after a great break from Jordan Gibbons.

Gibbons’ successful conversion pushed the visitors’ lead to 18-14 with 15 minutes to go.

Wests came back strong but an intercept against the run of play put St. Helens in strong field position, and a great pass from man of the match Rob Fairclough, put Danny Edwards in at the corner with what was his first touch of the ball.

With an unsuccessful conversion, the scoreline remained at 22-14 in favour of St. Helens, before Wests Tigers quickly hit back through Abdalla Matar in the 75th minute.

That saw the lead cut to just 22-18 with under five minutes to play, but Wests Tigers Academy were unable to complete the comeback as St. Helens hung on for victory with some outstanding defence.

Outstanding for Saints were both prop forwards Matty Lees and Levy Nzoungou who continually took the ball forward and defended strongly and young winger Kevin Brown was a constant threat with ball in hand.

But half back Rob Fairclough was awarded man of the match by the Wests coaching staff for leading the team around the park.

Saints Head Coach Derek Traynor commented: “The boys showed a lot of character after going behind. To get the win against a strong Wests Tigers, despite losing Josh Eaves, is really pleasing and is just rewards for all of the hard work they have put in up to this point.

“Matty, Levy and Rob were the standouts in a very good team performance but special mentions must also go to all Matty Kilgannon, Kevin Brown, Brad Pinder and Jordan Gibbons who really impressed in their first games at this level.

“It’s a great start to the tour, but that game has now gone and we look forward to facing the Central coast at Wyong on Wednesday.”

Costello; Gibbons, C.Brown, Furlong, K.Brown; Billsborough, Fairclough; Nzoungou, Eaves, Lees (C), Hazard, Eckley, Lewtas.

Subs: Causey, Coleman, Edwards, Follin, Horton, Jenkins, Kilgannon, Olmez, O’Mara, Pinder, Unsworth.

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