The Academy lost the final game of their Tour of Australia to Penrith Panthers Academy at the Pepper Stadium on Saturday.
Day 20 – Saturday October 28
Craig Richards wrote: Though going into the game undefeated and battle hardened, we entered into it as underdogs as this would surely be the biggest test the players have ever faced.
But if the saying: “Don’t write off the Saints” ever rang true, then you feel this group of players could live up to that saying.
The game started at a very fast pace with front rowers Christian Kellett and Kian Horridge carrying bravely into some stern Panthers defence.
The smart Jake Wingfield continued his kicking form from the previous game too and found space with a last play kick. The return set started with strong carries by the big Panthers forwards and their adventurous halfbacks linking to catch Saints on the edge, only for the always alert Jamie Little to spring into action with an early try saving tackle.
Next it was the Panthers on the charge again after Saints enthusiasm got the better of them as several players were caught offside. Penrith transitioned quickly with smart plays but solid Saints defence saw the Panthers’ hooker held up over the line.
The next pieces of action saw a desperate and illegal tackle halt Jamie Little after a great break by Jack Welsby, who regathered his own charge down.
But Saints were then hit with two quick fire tries. The first came off an over chase at marker that saw the Panthers’ 4 race in for a try, and then the clever number 6 tipped on for the 7 to score to make it 10-0.
Saints were next up on the score sheet though when a thunderous challenge from Kellett forced a mistake. Wingfield showed class from the resultant scrum and sent the powerful Sean Croston over. Josh Simm converting to make it a four point game.
But the Panthers made it 16-6 at the break following an error from a high ball.
The restart saw a great Sam Royle offload find Wingfield who then combined with Simm to send in Kelvin Taylor.
That was quickly followed by an immediate impact from replacement Brandon Scully on the charge, leading to the busy Brandon O’Neill showing flair and quick feet to send Reece Jackson racing in for an excellent try.
The reply was swift from the Panthers. First a fine grubber kick from the excellent stand off Sadi Sublaban sent in the number 4 before their winger also polished off a fine solo effort.
Undettered, Saints fantastic halves Wingfield and Welsby carried on rallying the boys, aided and abetted by the pack – but the Panthers squeezed over for another try to take it away from the Tourists.
Saints weren’t done though and Wingfield produced a great one handed offload for Tom Nisbet to get a well deserved try.
Final score Saints 22 Panthers 34.
Saints captain Sam Royle said: “I’m disappointed about the result. It would have been nice to finish with four wins, but we have played well on a whole throughout the tour and can be proud of the way we have come together and preformed.
“I have been happy with my own form and look forward kicking on to the new season.”
Jamie Little said: “It was a very fast and physical game. I really enjoyed how competitive it was and was happy with how I played in the game and as a team with how we coped with the pressure.
“I can’t wait to get back playing at home and pushing my self even further and working hard to improve my overall game.”
Reece Jackson added: “It felt really good to score today, especially at such a great NRL stadium in a pressurised game. They were a big physical team and I thought we battled and learned loads about ourselves.
“The tour has been great to be part of. Personally, I just want to keep working hard on my game and doing my best.”
Head Coach Derek Traynor was proud of his team. “Although very disappointed with the score, I am very happy with the tour as a whole. As with all the games on the tour the lads showed a lot of character in particular when we fought our way back to level the score at 16 all, but we struggled to build on it and finish with a positive result.
“As always there was some outstanding displays by Sam Royle, who was well supported by Christian Kellett, Brandon Scully and Brandon O’Neill.
“I was also extremely happy with the displays from Ben Simms, Reece Jackson and Matty Foster who all did a great job in attack and defence.
“Penrith were the better team on the day and have some great young players in their system. It was an excellent experience to play at the Pepper Stadium and one that the lads can learn from and improve.
“We look forward now into carrying on the good work into this year’s 19s season and hopefully, as previous tours, some of these players will one day play Super League with Saints.”
1- Jamie Little; 2- Thomas Nisbet, 3- Sean Croston, 4- Josh Simm, 5- John Hutchings; 6- Jack Welsby, 7- Jake Wingfield; 8- Christian Kellett, 9- Paul Nash, 10- Kian Horridge, 11- Joe Sharratt, 12- Ben Sims, 13- Sam Royle (c)
Subs: Luke Maloney-Ward, Brandon O’Neill, Ryan Horne, Kye Siyani, Reece Jackson, Matty Foster, Kelvin Taylor, Brandon Scully.
Award Winners (selected by the opposition coaching staff )
Best and Fairest – Sam Royle
Our coaching staff also presented awards to:
Best Forward – Brandon Scully
Best Back – Jamie Little
Best and Fairest Panthers – Sadi Subaltern