Reserves Suffer First Defeat

THE Reserves lost their 100% record to the Wolves as injuries, loan deals and international call-ups finally caught up with Ian Talbot’s side, writes Graham Henthorne.

Circumstances also contrived against them as the Saints came up against a genuine Wolves Reserves side containing no U19s fill-ins whilst the Saints side contained no less than nine changes to that which trounced the Wolves back in May.

Having said all that the Saints still had enough quality about the park not only to make a better fist of things than they did but to go on and win the game.

The Wolves took the lead six minutes in after a period of play containing a 40/20 and three repeat sets as the Saints finally capitulated.

Jake Spedding then came to the rescue as he plucked a cross kick out of the air to stop the largely ineffectual Kevin Penny from scoring.

The first of two turning points came three minutes later.

Two penalties on the bounce gave the Saints great field position and when Dave Llewellyn was stopped short Olly Davies couldn’t hold onto the crash ball from Aaron Smith at the play the ball.

From the restart poor tackling and transitional play allowed the Wolves to increase their lead.

The introduction of U19s captain Liam Cooper beefed up the Saints defence as he showed how it should be done by creaming the Wolves player bringing back the kick off forcing a knock on.

On the half hour the second turning point happened.

Jordan Gibbons dummied his way through the line 40 metres out and shot through to the full back. On his outside Callum Hazard who strolls under the ticks for the score, unfortunately Gibbons decided to try to go on his own only to be caught.

Two tackles later and the Wolves scrum half intercepts and goes 90 metres for the score despite the valiant efforts of Regan Grace to overhaul him.

Coaches Talbot and Wellens emphasised at the break that ball control was the key to the recovery. Seven times the Saints had visited the Wolves 20 metre line and seven times come up with an error. Sort out that statistic and the game would be different.

On their first set of the second half Grace took the ball almost dragging himself free but at the last through a speculator to the supporting Ricky Bailey only to see it drop inches too low for the fullback to drag in. The ball sticks and the speedy fullback would have gone 80 metres unopposed.

As it was a welcome piece of luck allowed the Saints to break their duck. Brad Pinder charged down a Wolves clearing kick with Lewis Furlong reacting quickest to pick up the loose ball and cross the whitewash.

The Saints couldn’t capitalise as penalties walked the visitors down field and the winger crossed acrobatically in the corner.

Try as they did nothing was going right for the Saints and this was epitomised by Brad Billsborough’s clearing kick hitting Levy Nzoungou squarely in the back and ricocheting towards the Saints line. Five tackles later and the Wolves had increased their lead.

With ten minutes to go Lama Tasi managed to hang on to a crash ball to allow the Saints to win the half but it was too little too late.

Liam Cooper, Olly Davies, Jake Spedding and Tom Whittle all tried hard but the Saints looked disjointed and finished dispirited against a Wolves outfit which looked as if they had played together all year.

Match Summary:

Tries: Lewis Furlong (50), Lama Tasi (69).
Goals: Brad Billsborough (2 from 2).

Tries: Sam Wilde (6), Joe Philbin (21), Tyler Whittaker (31), Richard Harris (54), Ben Evans (62).
Goals: Declan Patton (3 from 5).

Half Time: 0-16
Full Time: 12-26


1. Ricky Bailey; 2. Lewis Furlong, 3. Jake Spedding, 4. Calvin Wellington, 5. Regan Grace; 6. Jordan Gibbons, 7. Brad Billsborough; 8. Levy Nzoungou, 9. Aaron Smith, 19. Lama Tasi, 11. Owen Smith, 12. Dave Llewellyn, 13. Olly Davies.
Subs: 14. Brad Pinder, 15. Kev Brown, 17. Liam Cooper, 18. Tom Whittle, 20. Callum Hazard.

28. Jack Johnson; 2. Richard Harris, 3. Jacque Peet, 4. Jack Holmes, 20. Kevin Penny; 26. Declan Patton, 7. Tyler Whittaker; 21. Ben Evans, 22. Harry Reardon, 10. Daniel Murray, 25. Joe Philbin, 27. Sam Wilde, 19. Joe Ryan.
Subs: 14. Danny Rasool, 15. Lee Mitchell, 16. Jake Shoel, 17. Kane Ditchfield.

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