SAINTS continue to plod their way through this season yet to put in any kind of consistent performance but managing to win along the way, writes Graham Henthorne.
Playing at the Totally Wicked Stadium for the first time this season and under that yellow thing in the sky which we all thought had emigrated there was no excuse for anything other than a good performance against a side which they’d already taken two points from this season albeit in a rainstorm and on a quagmire.
However with completion rates hovering around the 50% mark in both halves and losing two players to concussion rulings before 25 minutes I suppose it’s a miracle that the Saints got up to win at all.
But it could and should have been so different. On the fifth tackle after kick off Josh Eaves did what he continued to do all game by darting out of dummy half. He scooted 20 metres to the full back passed it out to Matty lees but the big prop dropped it bombing the try in the process.
It was fully 25 minutes later before any side looked like scoring. But it was the same combination that came up with the goods. Quick hands from right to left from a penalty saw Tom Nisbett away. From the play the ball Lees drove in hard again and a quick play the ball gave Eaves enough time to jink his way through three to score.
Straight from the restart the Saints should have extended the lead. Cameron Brown’s break down the middle to the full back was supported by Matty Costello who was uncharacteristically caught from behind 10 out. From the play the ball commit and pass was the name of the game but too many didn’t do the first bit and the try was lost as Jordan Gibbons was held up over the line.
The Saints put the game to bed, or so we thought, with two tries in as many minutes at the end of the half.
Drives from Joe Sharratt, filling in on the wing, and another quick play the ball from Lees gave Elliott Jenkins space to jink his way over.
From the restart a great Jorge Lewtas drive put Josh Eaves on the front foot and his scoot from dummy half and commitment of the full back gave Jenkins enough space to outpace the cover for a good try.
As I intimated previously the game should have been dead and buried with the Saints cleaning up their possession and strangling the Giants out of the game.
However, a Giants grubber and a Saints knock on saw the visitors on the board after three minutes and playing with renewed vigour.
Admittedly the response was good with two quick tries to open up a 24 point lead.
Jordan Olmez, worrying the Giants with his handling and power running, drove 30 metres earning his side a penalty under the sticks in the process. From which Eaves tapped, dummied and fell over the line for the kind of cheeky try you are so happy you scored not conceded!
The second was from Lees who deserved it for another big effort.
The turning point came minutes later as Tom Nisbett had a try disallowed for a forward pass which seemed OK from where I was sat. Another Eaves break was taken on to the line by Olmez who fed it out the back to Jenkins who flung out a 20 metre miss pass to give Nisbett a walk in.
The Giants got heart from the miss and that coupled with fatigue and sloppiness setting in from the Saints players having to do big minutes they started to throw the ball around with increasing success.
Only a despairing ankle tap from Evan Bullen and then a three man tackle of the winger into touch kept the line intact.
But it was short lived as the giants scored twice in the final ten minutes to leave the Saints thankful of the final whistle.
In truth, and meaning no disrespect to the opposition, this was a game the Saints should have won by 50 points. The fact that they didn’t means, yet again, that big improvements will have to be made from a lot of players in a short period of time to take us over Billinge Lump in confident mood.
Matty Lee was almost back to his best and there were glimpses of from Lewtas and Olmez but best for the Saints was Josh Eaves who combined the impishness of a good nine with a very measured and mature performance.
Tries: Josh Eaves (25 & 47), Elliott Jenkins (33 & 36), Matty Lees (51).
Goals: Jordan Gibbons 5 from 5.
Tries: Sam Hewitt (43 & 76), Jon Luke Kirby (71).
Goals: Izaac Farrell 3 from 3.
Half Time: 18-0
Full Time: 30-18
1. Kevin Brown; 2. Jordan Gibbons, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Owen Smith, 5. Tom Nisbett; 6. Matty Costello, 7. Elliott Jenkins; 8. Matty Lees, 9. Josh Eaves, 16. Evan Bullen, 11. Sam Royle, 12. Mike Weldon (C), 13. Callum Hazzard.
Subs: 10. Jordan Olmez, 14. Brad Pinder, 15. Joe Sharratt, 17. Jorge Lewtas.
1. Louis Senior; 5. Alex Young, 4. Jack Richardson, 3. Oliver Jamieson, 2. Innes Senior; 6. Josh Pinder, 7. Izaac Farrell; 8. Matthew English, 9. Jack Flynn, 17. Ross Whitmore, 15. Lucas Hallas, 12. Sam Hewitt, 11. Billy Hayes.
Subs: 10. Jon Luke Kirby, 14. Jamie Greenwood, 16. Alfie Copley, 18. Ethan Salm.