19s Ease Past Warriors

A GLORIOUS summer’s day greeted the players of both teams at Orrell but it was the Saints who left the pitch basking both in the sun and the glory of a magnificent 37-16 victory over The Auld Enemy, writes Graham Henthorne.

Bereft of mainstay prop Matty Lees due to injury and still unable to call on the services on Josh Eaves the Saints were arguably understrength but as is always possible in those circumstances it gives others the chance to make a name for themselves.

So stand up Jordan Olmez who took on the line from the off, and left with one less tooth, ably supported by Captain Liam Cooper and loose forward Mike Weldon both of whom never took a backward step.

The Saints were under pressure for the first five minutes of the game as a series of penalties and grubbers meant three sets on their own line. But a relieving knock-on, five drives from the forwards and a wonderful high kick put the hosts under pressure.

Having seen Olmez walk off to have his mouth patched up in the first ten seconds it was Ben Morris who put his body on the line contesting the high kick. He got a bang but forced the full back to spill the ball straight into the hands of Ricky Bailey who fed Regan Grace and you know what happens then!

There was then an altercation in the centre of the pitch between all 26 players after the second extremely late and illegal leg chop by the home prop which thankfully didn’t injure Cooper. He got ten minutes as did Danny Richardson for verbally taking exception to it.

The Saints responded best and great chasing from Jake Spedding and Rob Fairclough of his own kick gave a repeat set but to no avail.

Five minutes later and a wonderful leg tackle from Dave Eccleston saved a certain try in the corner.

But as he game entered its second quarter the Saints took control.

Spedding made a half break down the left then quick play the balls from Grace and the returning Olmez put the Saints on a roll that Richardson exploited to the full with a short pass for Cooper to go over to the right of the posts.

Ricky Bailey’s acrobatics saved a penalty kick to touch to keep the Saints on the attack. A wonderful inside pass from Morris almost put Olmez away but earned another set of six for holding.

Olmez finally got his just rewards charging over under the sticks from Aaron Smiths great short ball.

A series of penalties in the Saints 20 deep into unforeseen injury time allowed the hosts to open their account but a penalty under the sticks for yet another late tackle was converted by Richardson for a fourteen point half time lead.

Wigan scored early in the second half and then came what could have been the turning point of the game. The Saints were on the attack 20 metres out. Jonah Cunningham charges onto the ball, breaks through the line, rounds the full back but instead of touching down he inexplicably starts to celebrate a little early and is eventually bundled into putting the ball on the dead ball line.

Five tackles later and the home prop is trundling unopposed under the posts to remarkably bring home within two points.

The Saints could have been devastated, instead they were galvanised and they found another gear.

A big defensive set forced a knock-on on halfway. From the scrum Bailey found Costello who found Eccleston and the winger went 20 metres to the corner. Sounds easy and it was but only because they all wonderfully committed their opposite number.

Another big hit, this time from Morris gave Saints possession and seconds later a penalty and an extra man as the home side had their sub prop sinbinned for use of the elbow.

From the restart Eccleston scored almost a carbon copy of his previous try but this time Bailey sent a miss pass out to him and the winger had to duck under two swinging arms to score. Brad Billsborough, on as a concussion replacement for Smith, sent over a majestic touchline conversion to restore the twelve point lead.

As time moved on and the Saints defence continued to hammer into the tackle the home side wilted in the blazing sun.

Cunningham’s drive started yet another good set out of their own half and just as the Coaching staff were starting to discuss the possibility of a drop goal up pops Richardson with the one pointer to stretch the lead to three scores. This was a fantastic example of his game management and how it has matured this season.

From the kick off the Saints scored the try of the game. Eccleston made yards, got up quickly, Matty Costello jumped out of dummy half, took it to the full back before feeding Jake Spedding to go 50 metres under the sticks to the jubilation of the visiting support.

There was still time for a Billsborough penalty as yet another high shot was punished.

In truth, even at 16 – 18 the Saints were always in charge. The hosts couldn’t contain the Saints pack manoeuvred around the pitch by Fairclough and Richardson.

And with a back line containing the speed of Grace, Costello, Spedding and Eccleston backed up by Bailey at full back then the Saints are a threat all over the park.

The man to feel sorry for is unused sub Chris Follin, but he made up for his inactivity by leading the deafening triple renditions of the Saints National Anthem.

The juggernaut rolls on with Wakefield Wildcats the next to face the Saints in a fortnight.

Match Summary:

Tries: Liam Paisley (36), Cain Barnes (44), Jack Wells (51).
Goals: Jake Moore 2.

Tries: Regan Grace (5), Liam Cooper (24), Jordan Olmez (31), Dave Eccleston (56 & 63), Jake Spedding (72).
Goals: Danny Richardson 3, Brad Billsborough 3.
Drop Goals: Danny Richardson (70).

Half Time: 18-4
Full Time: 37-16


1. Craig Mullen; 2. Tom Davies, 3. Jack Higginson, 4. Jake Moore, 5. Liam Paisley; 6. Lewis Eckford, 7. Josh Woods; 8. Olly Partington, 9. Josh Ganson, 10. Jack Wells, 11. Macauley Davies, 12. Paddy Casey, 13. Kyle Shelford.
Subs: 14. James Worthington, 15. Dec O’Donnell, 16. Paddy Jones, 17. Cain Barnes.

1. Ricky Bailey; 2. Dave Eccleston, 4. Matty Costello, 3. Jake Spedding, 5. Regan Grace; 7. Rob Fairclough, 6. Danny Richardson; 8. Levy Nzoungou, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Jordan Olmez, 11. Liam Cooper (C), 12. Ben Morris, 13. Mike Weldon.
Subs: 14. Jonah Cunningham, 17. Chris Follin, 18. Brad Billsborough, 26. Callum Hazzard.

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