19s Scrape Past Tigers

WHEN you hear the expression “a wins a win” you often don’t think too much about the real implications of the phrase, writes Graham Henthorne.

But believe me, any Saints supporter who made the trip over the Pennines on Thursday evening could not have had a better example than that which was laid out before them!

All who found themselves in and around the red vee were unanimous in proclaiming the performance as one of the dumbest they have been involved with for a long time.

It was perhaps summed up in a nutshell by the Saints first set. They received the ball on their own line. Two regulation carries from the pack and then Levy Nzoungou breaks through the defensive line. He charges towards the full back with Matty Costello streaking up on his left with a clear run to the line. However, he decides to take the full back on, is tackled and the chance is lost.

Having already been let off the hook by a forward pass from the Tigers after the first of a series of breaks down the Saints left side it was the visitors who always looked capable of scoring when in possession.

They had already had a try to the impressive Cameron Brown inexplicably disallowed but did score first through Regan Grace after Brown’s catch and pass had put him clear. The winger’s in and out move sat the full back on his backside as he touched down.

Five minutes later and the Saints increased the lead. First Aaron Smith was held up over the line and two plays later it was his flat, bullet pass to Jordan Olmez which saw the prop over.

Saints started to string some set of six together which put the pressure onto their hosts. Cameron Brown was the latest to be held up and from the play the ball Rob Fairclough’s miss pass saw Grace over for his second.

Despite the 16 point lead the Saints still looked rocky in defence and on the hour were punished. Numerous times in the first half the Tigers had exposed the left side defence and this time they made it pay with a 70 metre break to the corner.

Five minutes later and the lead was reduced further as poor tackling allowed the hooker to dummy his way through a static defence to the posts.

Coach Traynor demanded an improvement and the first set showed it. Led by Captain Liam Cooper the Saints pack tore into the Tigers both with and without the ball but poor decision making and execution still haunted them resulting in the Tigers taking the lead with a wonderfully judged cross kick to the left wing.

That was enough for Captain Cooper who again led by example in dragging the Saints back from the verge.

Then we saw how easy it could be as a couple of quick play the balls and both halfbacks and hooker running at the line gave Ben Morris a simple walkthrough for the score.

On the restart Matty Costello showed his pace as he arced through on a 50 metre break down the right. Grace and Cooper were both held short before Brad Billsborough dummied his way over under the sticks.

But you were never really comfortable despite the ten pint lead and sure enough with a quarter of an hour to go the Tigers scrum half jinked his way over to close within a try and make it one of the nerviest finishes for a long while.

Somehow the Saints hung on but no-one really knows how.

Callum Hazard and Aaron Smith did well as did Olmez until his untimely departure through injury. But cometh the hour cometh the Captain as Liam Cooper’s determination to see the unbeaten run continue was pain to see.

So, the clash of the unbeaten Titans will happen in Perpignan after all. But no-one is under any illusion that the Saints will have to be many times better to prolong that run any further.

Match Summary:

Castleford U19s:
Tries: Pat Diskin (31 & 50), Luke Million (36), Aiden Ineson (66).
Goals: Aiden Ineson 4.

Saints U19s:
Tries: Regan Grace (9 & 28), Jordan Olmez (15), Ben Morris (57), Brad Billsborough (60).
Goals: Rob Fairclough 2, Brad Billsborough 2.

Half Time: 16-12
Full Time: 28-24


1. Callum Turner; 2. Declan Sheehan, 3. Paddy Burns, 4. Davey Dixon, 5. Pat Diskin; 7. Aiden Ineson, 6. Russ Barton; 8. Jonny Holmes, 9. Luke Million, 15. Harvey Kear, 11. Will Cooke, 12. Luis Johnson, 13. Connor Fitzsimmonds.
Subs: 10. Jacks O’Neill, 14. Lewis Brown, 17. Rory Dixon, 18. Jack Wray.

1. Matty Costello; 5. Regan Grace, 4. Cameron Brown, 3. Jake Spedding, 2. Kevin Brown; 7. Rob Fairclough, 6. Elliott Jenkins; 8. Levy Nzoungou, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Jordan Olmez, 11. Liam Cooper (C), 12. Ben Morris, 13. Mike Weldon.
Subs: 15. Alex Eckley, 16. Chris Follin, 18. Brad Billsborough, 23. Callum Hazard.

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