THIS was the classic game of not taking the opportunities you’ve made for yourself and then watching them come back to haunt you, writes Graham Henthorne.
Four clean breaks which resulted in a dropped ball instead of the tries they deserved meant that the Saints were only 10 points ahead at the break. They should have been out of sight and the Giants playing for pride.
Instead the visitors came out with real purpose and so very nearly went home with the spoils.
Saints holding out 24-22.
Good interpassing from wing pairing Dave Griffiths and Jake pass resulted in the centre opening the scoring. A penalty for not playing the ball with the foot had given the Saints good field position and two good drives from props Christian Kellett and Adam Hooper put them on the front foot. From the play the ball Mike Wynn and Reece Jackson fed the ball wide to Griffiths early giving him the space he needed for the try.
The Saints then bombed two golden opportunities to take the game away from the visitors.
Firstly Hooper strode majestically through a massive gap but seemed to get white line fever running straight into the full back instead of attempting to go around him.
Five minutes later and Wynn and Sam Royle made the most of a dropped Giants ball interpassing up to the line but the ball was dropped on the next tackle.
The Giants saw their chance and took it as the full back broke a tackle and won the race to the posts to even the game up.
Captain Ryan Horne showed his class dummying his way through the line. He took it to the full back but with support outside chose Royle on his inside who was caught from behind yards short. Poor handling again saw the chance gone.
The Giants coughed it up cheaply and within a minute the Saints had finally taken a chance as Royle went through a massive gap to score.
From the kick off Horne this time put Ben Sims through the line. He took it to the full back before giving it outside to Griffiths to go the final 40 to the corner.
As has been said the Giants fancied their chances and within 10 minutes of the restart had gone in front.
Poor defence down the middle let the long striding centre through and when another missed tackle let them through again Griffiths found himself, rather harshly, sinbinned for holding down. Two tackles later another missed tackle and the Giants were ahead.
The starting props Kellett and Hooper came back on to give a bit of stability in the middle and piece of individual brilliance from Joe Sharratt put the Saints back in front. The Seasider stole the ball one on one and then stepped his way of both right and left to pass the cover over 40 metres to go under the posts. Inexplicably Lewis Gartland hit the underside of the bar with the conversion attempt.
He made amends minutes later with a great kick which because of the great chase from winger Tom Nesbitt pinned the Giants deep in the own 10 metre area.
The pressure tolled and Callum Cooke stepped his way into the right corner to push the lead out to six.
The Giants came back, however, and looked to be going in down the left but up stepped winger Nesbitt to calmly intercept and race 60 metres to alleviate the pressure.
Having been supreme all day with everything put in front of him Nesbitt inexplicably found himself stepped on the outside by his opposite number who scored in the corner.
That earlier missed conversion looked to be coming home to roost but the conversion went narrowly wide and the Saints hung on for the win.
Not as accomplished a performance as the first one but again the Saints were pushed out of their comfort zones but dug deep to find the answers coming from behind to break the visitor’s hearts.
Next for the 16s is a trip to Hull which is never easy but the Saints will travel with optimism after a second win on the bounce.
Tries: Dave Griffiths (4 & 27), Sam Royle (24), Joe Sharratt (51), Callum Cooke (56).
Goals: Mike Wynn 2.
Tries: Jack Duggan (18 & 44), Innes Senior (40), Jack Cooper (67).
Goals: Ross Whitmore, Connor Murphy 2.
Half Time: 16-6
Full Time: 24-22
1. Reece Jackson; 2. Tom Nesbitt, 3. Luke Maloney-Ward, 4. Dave Griffiths, 5. Jake Pass; 6. Ryan Horne (C), 7. Mike Wynn; 8. Christian Kellett, 9. Paul Nash, 10. Adam Hooper, 11. Ben Sims, 12. Sam Royle, 13. Eddie McLorie.
Subs: 14. Brandon O’Neill, 15. Joe Sharratt, 16. Sean Croston, 17. Matthew Ashcroft, 18. Louis Brogan, 19. Lewis Gartland.
1. Jack Duggan; 2. Dominic Young, 3. Innes Senior, 4. Louis Senior, 5. Jack Cooper; 6. Ross Whitmore, 7. Jack Flynn; 8. Connor Murphy, 9. Billy Westerman, 10. Tom Hugil, 11. Lucas Hallas, 12. Alfie Copley, 13. Elis Broadbent.
Subs: 14. Jake Turner, 15. Ben Tibbs, 16. Wojtech Drop, 17. Drew Judge Clark, 18. Kian Loppage.