ON the scoreboard maybe it was tied 14-14 but in chances created the Saints were by far the better team and consequently the more disappointed with the end result, writes Graham Henthorne.
Especially as having fallen 10-4 behind at the start of the second period, the Saints showed no little character to come back and take the lead again.
The Saints were the first on the scoresheet with Tom Nisbett showing great presence of mind to not give up on a ball which had ricocheted up in the air from Jake Wingfield’s hard pass. Far from turning his back he calmly caught the ball then dropped to the floor to score.
Great defence from Christian Kellett and Brandon Scully saved holding the Wire player up and away from the line saved a try as did a fine tackle from Kelvin Ojeaburu to put his opposite number in touch.
In fact after a dodgy first carry where he was driven backwards, as the night wore on the contributions from this powerful winger became more and more telling. Be it defensively, shepherding defenders into touch, or with ball in hand terrifying defenders into giving away penalties to stop him.
The home side drew level with the softest of dummy half darts over the line, the first of two in the game to the substitute hooker.
As the half drew to a close Nisbett was denied a second dropping Luke Ward’s pass after a sweeping cross field move.
Ian Lomax and his coaching staff asked the side to believe in themselves which translated into a good first set followed by a great kick and chase from Jack Welsby, who along with Brandon O’Neill and Josh Simm forced the full back in goal to get a repeat set. Unfortunately three tackles in O’Neill knocked on trying to creep over from the play the ball.
Minutes later and the Saints were behind to the second soft try from dummy half but the team didn’t collapse as in previous matches rather they dug deep and again put the home side under increasing pressure in their own half.
Ryan Horne was sopped short and Joe Sharratt just failed to take Welsby’s crash ball at the line.
The home side were reduced to 12 after a fourth shoulder charge from a home player.
The Saints capitalised on the numerical advantage as first Horne and Matty Foster were held short and then Kellett had a try disallowed when adamant he was over the line.
The Saints were continuing to have joy down the right hand side. Sean Croston jumped down the short side but his pass went behind the unlucky Nisbett.
But minutes later Welsby saw his path left blocked so quickly ducked back right, beat seven or eight on a mazy run straightening at the last to commit the winger before putting Josh Simm on a 20 metre run to the line.
Simm just missed the touchline conversion leaving the Saints still two behind.
But minutes later that man Simm earned the Saints a penalty when he was dragged into touch after the tackle as complete and three tackles later Ryan Horne gave the Wire a touch of their own medicine diving over from close range.
The Saints jumped for joy like they’d won the game but with four minutes left there was ample time for a sting in the tail. And that’s exactly what they got as with seconds left a chip over from the Wire found the winger who despite being suspiciously offside was allowed to catch the ball and beat the despairing efforts of Jamie Little to score in the corner.
Justifiably the conversion was missed as it would have been a bitter pill to swallow to lose in such a fashion after showing great character in coming from behind.
There is much to build on for next year in this and the previous display. The core of the side are still available and will be the better for the exposure they have gained this year.
Tries: Alex Oldroyd (21 & 43), Liam Jones (69).
Goals: Riley Dean (1 from 2), Taylor Brown (0 from 1).
Tries: Tom Nisbett (8), Josh Simm (60), Ryan Horne (64).
Goals: Ryan Horne (1 from 1), Jack Welsby (0 from 1), Josh Simm (0 from 1).
Half Time: 4-4
Full Time: 14-14
1. Brad Holroyd; 2. Liam Jones, 3. Liam Brinksman, 4. Matthew Drake, 5. Andrew Bulman; 6. Fynn Stanley, 7. Riley Dean; 8. Jacob Chamberlain, 9. Patrick Anglin, 10. Matt Heritage, 11. Taylor Brown, 12. Cole Oakley, 13. Jack Wright.
Subs: 15. Tyler Lancaster, 16. Alex Oldroyd, 17. Brechan Stephenson, 18. James Machin, 20. Jordan Brown, 21. Jack Wilson, 22. Dec Leonard.
1. Jamie Little; 5. Kelvin Ojeaburu, 4. Sean Croston, 3. Luke Ward (C), 2. Tom Nisbett; 6. Ryan Horne, 7. Jack Welsby; 8. Christian Kellett, 9. Jake Wingfield, 10. Sam Royle, 11. Brandon Scully, 12. Joe Sharratt, 13. Matty Foster.
Subs: 14. Brandon O’Neill, 15. Ben Sims, 16. Zac Critchley, 17. Matthew Ashcroft, 18. Kye Siyani, 19. Josh Waterworth, 20. Josh Simm.