Saints U19s lost out in the Academy Grand Final after a hard fought 22-10 defeat to the Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium.
Saints U19’s were 16 minutes from glory trailing by only two points and still causing the home side no end of problems.
But finally the weight of injuries, suspensions and retirements finally took their toll on the brave Saints as they succumbed to their older, fitter opponents.
Fielding no less than six players from last years U16’s side, and two in-season additions, the Saints valiantly held their opponents to within one score and given a bit more luck and the bounce of the ball they could have done the unlikely and beaten their hosts on their own paddock.
The first half saw the Saints dominant spending virtually the whole of the half camped in their hosts territory and got our rewards. Josh Simm received the ball on the right-hand side 30 metres out before avoiding multiple Warriors tackles to score under the sticks, Lewis Dodd’s conversion making it 6-0 to Saints.
Wigan looked certain to go over for their first try of the game in the 27th minute, but an incredible tackle from Jack Welsby on his own goal-line forced the Warriors into touch. The hosts did respond seven minutes before the break though, Amir Bourouh forcing his way over from close range, Harry Smith’s conversion levelled the scores at 6-6.
Saints ensured that they did go in ahead as Jack Welsby kicked a crucial 40/20 and from the restart, the visitors worked the ball out left and Nico Rizzelli went over for our second try of the game. Dodd missed the conversion, as the redvee led 10-6 at the break.
Wigan hit back and kicked a 40/20 of their own with the first set of the second half. That led to Sam Halsall going over in the right corner. A right-touchline conversion from Smith gave the Warriors a 12-10 lead.
It took until the 67th minute for another try as Saints’ lack of forward replacements started to become evident. Wigan powered forward and Max Roberts took advantage of numbers on the left flank to score in the corner. Smith kicked the crucial conversion to make it 18-10.
The Warriors wrapped it up with the last play of the game as Ben Holcroft powered his way over in the corner as they retained their Academy title.
Wigan Warriors U19s: Umyla Hanley, Cian Tyrer, Sam Halsall, Max Roberts, Ben Holcroft, Adam Holt, Harry Smith ©, Nathan Wilde, Aiden Roden, Ethan Havard, James McDonnell, Harry Rushton, Joe Shorrocks.
Interchanges: Jack Bibby, Amir Bourouh, Ben O’Keefe, Oscar Stone.
Tries: Amir Bourouh, Sam Halsall, Harry Smith, Ben Holcroft.
Goals: Harry Smith (3 from 4).
Saints U19s: Jack Welsby, Jumah Sambou, Nico Rizzelli, Josh Simm, Brad Holroyd, Owain Abel, Lewis Dodd, Kye Siyani, Paul Nash, Harry Brooks, Matthew Foster, Lewis Baxter, Sam Royle ©
Interchanges: Keenan McDaid, Zack Lee, Harvey McDaid, John Hutchings
Tries: Josh Simm, Nico Rizzelli.
Goals: Lewis Dodd (1 from 2).