Smith Treble Boosts Academy

ON a wet, dank night in Widnes you need something to liven you up and keep you warm. Unfortunately there was little of that sort of thing on show as the U19s produced an error strewn performance to rival that witnessed at Castleford last month, writes Graham Henthorne.

As on that night, however, the will to win shone through and got them over the line 30-14.

Despite all the above defensively this was as good a display as you could want to see from the Saints. The problem was there too much defence on show courtesy of a terrible handling display which constantly turned possession over in our half.

The Saints started brightly and with the benefit of one of a host of penalties dished out to both sides, they found themselves with a scrum on half way. Ricky Bailey took the ball down the left feeding Jake Spedding who was just caught from behind 10 metres out. Three tackles later and the same player fed Captain Liam Cooper who charged over from close range.

There then followed 25 minutes of frustrating stalemate during which the Saints line was tested often.

In situations like this there are few teams that can hold out indefinitely and eventually the Vikings did pierce the Saints defensive line. Albeit only from a cross kick on the last to their tall left winger who towered above Kev Brown to pluck the ball out of the air.

Minutes later the Saints found themselves with a scrum on our 10 metre line. Bailey knocked on from the pass and two tackles later the Vikings take an unbelievable lead into the break with a try from a neat grubber to the corner.

As is usual when underdogs get a sniff they up their game even more and the Saints knew they were going to have to subdue this enthusiasm and quickly to get anything from the game.

Four minutes into the second half, the Saints force both an error and then get a penalty for ball stripping to enable them to threaten the Vikings line. Four tackles into the set and hooker Aaron Smith tunnelled his way over from dummy half to edge them back in front.

The comeback seemed to be short-lived, however, as a carbon copy try to the Vikings winger put the Saints behind again.

He was denied his hat-trick by a thundering last ditch tackle from Bailey and this seemed to give the Saints the fillip they were looking for and the forwards began to make ground on the back of better handling.

Smith dummied his way over from 10 metres out to put them in front but the game was broken open from the restart as Regan Grace scored a trademark 95 yarder. The Welshman took the pass from Rob Fairclough, found a hole, pushed through the line, took it to the fullback, committed him beautifully then pinned his ears back, opened up the afterburners and left everyone for dead on his way to the sticks.

The game was finally put to bed with a couple of minutes to go as Smith completed his hat-trick again burrowing over from close range.

A wins a win! And considering that the side contained eight of last year’s U16’s (and five of them in the pack) then it’s still a good win.

Nobody was at their best but there was an encouraging debut off the bench both for this season and at this level after a long time out with injury for Evan Bullen but stand out player for his commitment, bravery (nice golf ball for a cheekbone) and willingness to work was Kev Brown.

Match Summary:

Tries: Owen Buckley (34 & 49), Keanan Brand (37).
Goals: Brad Walker 1/2, Sam Freeman 0/1.

Tries: Liam Cooper (9), Aaron Smith (44, 61 & 76), Regan Grace (62).
Goals: Brad Billsborough 5/5.

Half Time: 6-10
Full Time: 30-14


1. Sam Freeman; 2. Nathan Holbrook, 3. Keanan Brand, 4. Ross Webster, 20. Owen Buckley; Joe Lyons, 7. Jordan Johnstone; 8. Jack Armstrong, 9. Danny Walker, 10. Owen Farnworth, 11. Dan Norman, 12. Liam Walsh, 13. Brad Walker.
Subs: 14. Chris Wilson, 15. James Rutledge, 16. Pat McCarroll, 17. Connor Cutts.

1. Ricky Bailey; 2. Kevin Brown, 4. Cameron Brown, 3. Jake Spedding, 5. Regan Grace; 7. Rob Fairclough, 6. Brad Billsborough; 8. Levy Nzoungou, 9. Aaron Smith, 16. Alex Eckley, 11. Liam Cooper (C), 12. Ben Morris, 13. Mike Weldon.
Subs: 10. Jordan Olmez, 14. Brad Pinder, 15. Callum Hazard, 20. Evan Bullen.

Principal Club Partners

LWC Logo

Platinum Club Partners

Kinaxia Logistics logo
Elcons Logo
Astar Recruitment logo

Associate Club Partners

St Helens College logo

Official Club Partners

Box Holders