Saints made their first away trip as a team on Sunday travelling across the Pennines to face a Bulls outfit smarting from last week’s defeat at the hands of their neighbours the Rhinos.
But the Saints showed that a little thing such as a coach trip to the current Champions holds no fears as they continued with last week’s sparkling brand of trademark Saints rugby to win 42-4, writes Graham Henthorne.
And indeed Faye Gaskin carried on just where she left off with yet another hat-trick of tries to the creative scrum half.
It was her last tackle bomb that was spilled by the Bulls fullback to give the Saints an attacking scrum on the 10 metre line. As the ball came out to her, she then worked a neat run-around move with Roxy Mura standing wide before stepping inside the cover and the full back on her way under the black dot.
Gaskin’s kick on the last again got the Saints a repeat set as Leah Burke showed the other side to her game rapidly closing down the fullback.
Three tackles later and Captain Tara Jones was hitting Channy Crowl on the burst to bust through the defensive line to score.
The Bulls showed that they wouldn’t be total pushovers as, helped by two dubious penalties, they worked and exploited an overlap down their left to go in.
But as time went on the Saints’ superior fitness and skill took over leaving the home side often clutching at shadows.
Gaskin again showed her nimble footwork side stepping through the cover to go over down the left, unfortunately too wide for her to convert.
With five minutes to go to the interval the Saints made the game safe with Crowl’s second score again coming in identical fashion from a Jones’ dummy half pass. But this try can be put down to a fabulous drive from sub Lizzie Gladman. The big prop charged onto the ball scattering would be defenders in her wake to go through before offloading superbly to the supporting Gaskin to put the Saints on the attack.
There was just time for the Saints to bomb a chance in the corner as Charlotte Hill couldn’t take Carys Marsh’s miss pass.
The second half started with the Bulls trying to lift themselves and it took a great try saving effort from Becca Rotheram, assisted by Crowl and Emily Rudge, to keep the line intact.
The Saints had had enough of that, however, and promptly went down the other end to resume normal service.
Great drives out of defence from Hill and Naomi Williams topped by another Gladman wrecking ball run and offload to Gaskin saw her find Roxy Mura to go the final 30 metres for a fabulous try.
On the hour Hill got a deserved try taking a well-timed pass from Katie-May Williams to go in at the right corner after a great 20 metre drive from her centre Naomi Williams had taken her close.
Hill then showed the steel in her character as she came up with a big hit to force a knock-on. From the scrum on half way Burke’s 20 metre run put the Bulls on the back foot and from the play the ball Mura put Gaskin in for her third.
From the restart set it was the Mura/Gaskin combination that put Katie-May Williams away with another neat run-around. The centre showed good pace and power to take two over with her.
That was it as far as scoring was concerned but there was just time for Vicky Whitfield to show that the Saints aren’t just about the flashy stuff as the sub came up with two superb try saving tackles in the last five minutes to keep the score as it should have been.
Don’t get me wrong there is much work to do but for a second hit out, first away from home and with some players who haven’t played for a year or two, this was a great performance.
The Saints pack with starting props Dawn Taylor and Sarah Lovejoy backed up off the bench by Whitfield and Claire Mullaney, along with the Rudge’s Isabelle and Emily and Mura and Crowl set a wonderful platform. It was then easy for Tara (when she wasn’t correcting the ref for some interesting decisions), Carys and Faye to set the back line alight.
Progress is still being made at the same time as entertaining Saints rugby is being played.
Tries: Leah Jones (3).
Goals: Jess Courtman 0 from 1.
Tries: Faye Gaskin (1, 19 & 63), Channy Crowl (7 & 34), Roxy Mura (47), Charlotte Hill (58), Katie-May Williams (66).
Goals: Faye Gaskin 5 from 8.
Half Time: 4-22
Full Time: 4-42
1. Savannah Andrade; 2. Annah Simpson, 3. Jess Courtman, 26. Leah Jones, 5. Haylie Nields; 17. Chrissie Nettleton, 7. Stacey Greenwood; 8. Lauren Hickey, 9. Kirsty Moroney, 10. Debbie Smith, 11. Shona Hoyle, 23. Heather MacDonald, 13. Reagan Walker.
Subs: **. Stacey Wilson, 14. Memphis Jubb, 16. Dani Titterington, 18. Toni Carroll, 24. Kelly Wood.
1. Becca Rotheram; 2. Charlotte Hill, 3. Naomi Williams, 4. Katie-May Williams, 5. Leah Burke; 6. Carys Marsh, 7. Faye Gaskin; 8. Dawn Taylor, 9. Tara Jones (C), 10. Sarah Lovejoy, 11. Roxy Mura, 12. Isabelle Rudge, 13. Channy Crowl.
Subs: 14. Emily Rudge, 15. Vicky Whitfield, 16. Lizzie Gladman, 17. Claire Mullaney.