Saints Academy won the second game on their Tour of Australia when they beat Central Coast Roosters 32-8.
Day 10 – Wednesday October 18
Today we travelled to play our second fixture of the tour against Central Coast Roosters, on the perfect surface at the impressive Morris Breen Wyong Oval, writes Craig Richards.
Coached by ex-Australia, State of Origin and Hull FC star Mark O’Meley, the Roosters get their name from their parent club the Sydney City Roosters, as they are the direct feeder club to the NRL side.
After the poor start to the last game, the importance of starting well was ringing in the ears of the boys as the game got underway.
Early strong carries, led by Tom Nisbet who ran through opposite number, saw Saints on the scoreboard early, with Sean Croston linking with John Hutchings to send the powerful winger in for the opening try of the match.
With the conversion unsuccessful Saints took an early 4-0 lead.
The restart began with a strong carries from the Saints forwards, which had the Roosters under more pressure. A Luke Maloney-Ward run led to swift passing and the space for the busy Matty Foster to race in for the second try.
This time Jack Welsby converted to increase the lead to 10-0.
A string of penalties and handling errors breathed fresh confidence into the Roosters, who began to build pressure keeping the Saints defending for long periods on their own ten yard line.
This was followed by smart kicks from the halves using the windy conditions to their advantage. But the defensive line, organised by the impressive Jamie Little and bolstered by the tough tackling Sam Royle, Evan Bullen and Captain Christian Kellett. stood up to the test.
As field position started to change in the visitors’ favour smart play from the outside backs and a pinpoint accurate kick from Jake Wingfield sent John Hutchings in for his brace.
The exchanges again saw two dogged sides working hard, but the pendulum had swung back to Saints and Sean Croston raced in at the corner after smart play by Tom Nisbet caught the edge defence short of numbers.
Saints leading 18-0 at the break.
As was expected, the Roosters made several changes and started the second half with a strong wind at their backs and on the front foot as they tried to fight their way back into the game.
And they did that when their right centre gambled and intercepted before feeding his supporting winger who finished the length of the field try.
An immediate response was required and that was just what we got as after a dropped ball, Jack Welsby carried strong and bumped off two defenders before scoring besides the posts to make the score 22-4.
The following exchanges were tough with some physical carries and hard defending. Saints two wingers, Kelvin Taylor and John Hutchings were really leading from the front with their carries, and it was John who completed his hat-trick as he crashed over once again.
It was then left to full back Jamie Little to finish the scoring for the Red Vee as Jack Welsby re-gathered his charged down kick and a couple of plays later Little dummied his way over under the posts for 32-4.
The final play of the game saw the Roosters score an unconverted try in the corner to make the final score Central Coast Roosters 8, St Helens 32.
Saints Captain Christian Kellett said: “It is an honour to captain this side. A large part of the game came down the middle and it was tough going, we just had to stick together and weather the storm as a team and I thought our class shone through in the end.
“I’m happy with my performance but I know I have things to improve on – in particular my leg drive in contact.”
Derek Traynor added: “I’m extremely happy with the win. At times the performance was a little frustrating and we made some poor decisions in attack, but defensively we were very strong again.
“We’ve got some work to do as the next two game will see a raise in intensity and playing level, but I thought John Hutchings and Sean Croston made a strong wing-centre partnership that continues to flourish as the tour goes on.”
Jack Welsby said: “It was a very physical and tough game, played at a fast tempo. I feel as though our middles set a great platform for our backs to see the game through.
“I’m happy with my overall performance but realise I can go to another level.”
Award Winners (selected by the opposition coaching staff)
Best Back – Jamie Little
Best Forward – Evan Bullen
Best and Fairest – Jack Welsby
Our coaching staff also presented awards to John Hutchings and Sean Croston to recognise their good performances.
Tries: Hutchings 3, Foster, Croston, Welsby 2,
Goals: Welsby, Simm
Jamie Little; John Hutchings, Sean Croston, Luke Maloney-Ward, Tom Nisbet; Jack Welsby, Jake Wingfield; Even Bullen, Brandon O’Neill, Chris Kellett, Matty Foster, Joe Sharratt, Sam Royle.
Subs: Paul Nash, Josh Simm, Ryan Horne, Kian Horridge, Kye Siyani, Reece Jackson, Ben Sims, Kelvin Taylor, Brandon Scully.