SAINTS Reserves completed an extremely successful season by doing the double over a very competitive Halifax side at Langtree on Friday evening, writes Graham Henthorne.
Both sides fielded long benches but it was the Saints who struck first to open the scoring on seven minutes in what eventually became a 42-10 victory.
A great grubber from Tom Connick bought a repeat set and after a couple of set up drives quick hands to the right saw Danny Richardson and then Jake Spedding get the ball out to winger Kevin Brown. With four players converging on him the pocket rocket stuck his head taking them all over the line with him.
Both sides traded possessions for a period of time but when Fax knocked on at the half way mark they gave the Saints good field position which they weren’t about to waste this time.
They pounded the line for five tackles then on the last Aaron Smith and Jack Ashworth spotted a gap on the blind side. Ashworth threw a great miss pass out to Brown and the winger again did the business this tie stepping off his right to slip under the defensive cover.
The Saints pack were controlling the middle of the park well but the visitors, prompted by scrum half Connor Robinson, continued to pose problems for the Saints.
But on the half hour a stray pass from a Fax attack was taken by Dave Llewellyn. Quick thinking from the veteran saw the ball flipped backwards between his legs to put the supporting McDonnell away. Two tackles later and the ball reached Regan Grace on the left, two steps later and the winger was rounding a prop down the middle then streaking through the gap and outstripping the cover over the final 60 metres to score to the left of the posts.
On the stroke of the break Olly Davies scored Saints fourth of the half charging powerfully onto the ball 10 metres out. Richardson’s easiest conversion of the night put the Saints 22 points up and effectively out of sight.
Fax had other ideas at the restart, however, as they came at the Saints from the off. A ball steal from Robinson as Eccleston was bringing the ball away was brought to a halt just short but at the expense of a sinbin for Calvin Wellington. The attack came to nought and the Saints did exactly what you want when you’re a man down, they went and scored as a McDonnell overhead pass was taken by Eccleston who managed to touch down at the corner flag.
Undaunted Fax came charging back and prop Reilly scored stretching out over the line at the posts.
Levy Nzoungou had try disallowed for obstruction but the Saints showed their superior fitness first keeping Fax out on three consecutive sets then dominating the next fifteen minutes scoring three tries to put any thoughts of a comeback totally to bed.
The dummy of the season thrown by Tom Whittle led to the try of the match as the big prop found himself free on half way. Everybody expected him to pass and we all took it as he continued to charge down field before coolly passing wide to Wellington. The centre took it on then chipped a pinpoint ball right footed over the cover which was expertly caught of the run by the supporting Connick who strolled under the posts.
From the kick-off five drives put the Saints on the attack but Connick’s high kick was dropped cold by the Fax fullback and fell straight into the hands of Owen Smith who had a run in which even your correspondent could’ve scored from.
A missed tackle down the middle let the visitors in for a consolation try.
The final act of the game saw Davies dive in for his second from dummy half which then brought the spectacle of Dave Llewellyn being asked to convert from in front of the sticks. Apparently he was too tired to walk too close to the sticks from where he picked up the ball which meant that he put the ball embarrassingly wide.
The final game of the season was as competitive as the all of the Reserves games have been and both coaches were as upbeat about the competition as each other with Fax having signed numerous players and the Saints being to introduce their younger players into playing against men.
Tries: Kevin Brown (7 & 21), Regan Grace (33), Olly Davies (38 & 78), Dave Eccleston (47), Tom Connick (64), Owen Smith (67).
Goals : Danny Richardson, (3/4), Brad Billsborough (2/3), Dave Llewellyn (0/1).
Tries: Martyn Reilly (51), Adam Ryder (72).
Goals: Connor Robinson (1/2).
Half Time: 22-0
Full Time: 42-10
1. Shannon McDonnell; 2. Kevin Brown, 3. Jake Spedding, 4. Calvin Wellington, 5. Regan Grace; 6. Tom Connick, 7. Danny Richardson; 8. Tom Whittle, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Olly Davies, 11. Owen Smith, 12. Dave Llewellyn, 13. Jack Ashworth.
Subs: 14. Josh Eaves, 15. Jordan Gibbons, 16. Dave Eccleston, 17. Callum Hazzard, 18. Levy Nzoungou, 19. Brad Billsborough, 20. Chris Follin, 23. Cameron Brown.
1. James Saltonstall; 5. Jamie Stringer, 3. Adam Ryder, 4. Gareth Potts, 2. Conor McGrath; 6. Joe Martin, 7. Connor Robinson; 8. Elliott Morris, 9. Billy Gaylor, 10. Martyn Reilly, 11. Jordan Syme, 12. Ed Barber, 21. Adam Robinson.
Subs: 13. Josh Greenwood-MacDonald, 15. Morgan Punchard, 16. Cian Timmins, 17. Will Calcott, 18. Lewis Hosty, 19. Lewis Boye, 20. Aiden Hema, 22. Jack Mead, 24. Jack Matthews.