Thank goodness rugby matches are played over two halves as it gave the Saints the chance to recover from one of the worst halves that could be remembered, writes Graham Henthorne.
It took 22 minutes for them to complete a set of six, only managing to complete three in total and kicking two of them into the stand!
In fact it’s remarkable that they were only six points down at the break and still in with a chance of winning the game.
The second half didn’t start too well but they were at least managing to hang on to the ball which in turn put the pressure straight back onto the Vikings.
The game turned on a fabulous try-saving tackle from Tom Nisbett who just got back in time to push his opposite number into touch in the act of scoring. Had they gone further behind I think the Saints would’ve struggled.
As it was, the Saints were galvanised. This, coupled with a few positional changes and the sin-binning of the Vikings’ second row forward for being the latest player to take a Saint out off the ball, saw the visitors score three tries in that ten minute period.
The first came from the massively impressive Matty Foster who charged onto an Elliott Jenkins pass crashing through two would be tackles to score. Callum Hazzard missed the comparatively easy conversion but the Saints were back in it.
He did convert Jack Welsby try, however, putting the Saints into the lead. Having moved up from fullback to stand off he stepped his way through the weak Vikings right sided defence to stroll under the sticks.
From the kick off, two drives from John Hutchings and Sam Royle saw the Saints off their line and from the play the ball it was moved right into the hands of Chris Follin, starting at left second row, relief prop and now right centre.
He set off, beating three men on the outside, before cutting back inside beating two more. Seeing the gap open up in front of him he charged through outstripping his chasers until being confronted with the full back. Undaunted, he shifted the ball, swatted the custodian out of the way and strolled under the sticks for a truly remarkable try. At no time during his 70 metre run did he look favourite to score, but also at no time did he look like he was going to be stopped!
With ten minutes to go the home side pulled to within six and it looked as if the earlier missed conversion may come back to haunt the Saints. But strong tackling forced the error on the first tackle.
From the scrum, Hazzard was stopped short and on the next play Jenkins broke the hearts of his home town team with his first try of the season stretching out to score at the side of the posts.
The Vikings’ discipline, not under too much control all day, provided Hazzard with two opportunities late on to put the game to bed and he duly obliged kicking the second penalty chance.
Although the Saints were by no means at their best they stuck to their task cleaning their act up enough to win.
The positional changes made by Coach Derek Traynor with half an hour to go made the difference with Welsby pushing Jake Wingfield up to hooker, where the two of them speeded the play up to an extent that the Vikings couldn’t cope with.
Captain Alex Eckley along with Hazzard always worked hard down the middle but the left sided wing pairing of Hutchings and Josh Simm repeatedly did the hard yards driving the Saints away from their own line sapping the Vikings’ energy.
Widnes Vikings U19s:
Tries: Sam Freeman (11), Danny Walker (69).
Goals: Lloyd Roby 1 from 2.
Tries: Matty Foster (53), Jack Welsby (60), Chris Follin (63), Elliott Jenkins (71).
Goals: Callum Hazzard 4 from 6.
Half Time: 6-0
Full Time: 10-24
1. Keanan Brand; 2. Tyler Jones, 3. Jayden Hatton, 4. Owen Buckley, 5. Sam Freeman; 6. Lloyd Roby, 7. Chris Wilson; 8. Owen Farnworth, 9. Danny Walker, 10. Patrick McCarroll, 11. Sam Walters, 12. Calum O’Neill, 13. Liam Walsh.
Subs: 14. Jarrod O’Connor, 15. James Rutledge, 16. Bradley Calland, 17. Josh Wilde.
1. Jack Welsby; 2. Tom Nisbett, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Josh Simm, 5. John Hutchings; 6. Jake Wingfield, 7. Elliott Jenkins; 8. Alex Eckley (C), 9. Paul Nash, 10. Jorge Lewtas, 11. Chris Follin, 12. Sam Royle, 13. Callum Hazzard.
Subs: 14. Brandon O’Neill, 15. Joe Sharratt, 16. Kye Siyani, 17. Matty Foster.