We’ve waited a long time for the resumption of Scholarship level rugby, but it was worth the wait as the Saints U17s beat Warrington U17s 24-40 at Victoria Park on Wednesday.
HIGHLIGHTS – Subscribers can watch the FULL game on Saints TV.
It was a strong start as Saints forced a knock on with the first tackle of the game. Two drives from Matthew Parkes and Alfie Pyke and a quick play the ball saw the ball moved to the right for Captain McKenzie Buckley to go over after just 55 seconds of the new season.
Alfie Whittle was stopped short and then knocked on with the line open before the Saints made their possession pay as Sam Haynes went in on the left. A drive from Nathan Bannerman and a tackle bust from Eliot Peposhi set the defence scrambling giving Haynes his opportunity.
On 23 minutes the very impressive Ellis Archer took full advantage sending up a towering kick on the last which the winger got nowhere near. Following up Whittle finally got on the score sheet easily scooping up thee bouncing ball.
The Saints had created countless overlaps on both flanks during the opening period with some crisp passing out wide. On the half hour one paid dividends as the ball was spread from left to right for Ben Lane to expertly stand up his opposite number before giving Connor Morley an easy touchdown.
All four tries were scored wide out and despite striking the ball very well Archer was unlucky to only convert one of the four, but Saints led at the break.
The Wolves came out strong in the second period and were back in it early on after two quick-fire tries. The reintroduction of captain Buckley galvanised the troops and 12 minutes into the half Keane Gilford scored the first of his hat-trick in the left corner.
Archer missed the difficult conversion that left the Saints only four ahead, but four minutes later the Wolves hooker brought them back into the game again with a try.
On the hour the Saints pulled clear with two back-to-back tries. Firstly, Ryan Wood darted over after Parkes was stopped short and then Gilford scored his second after a powerful drive and quick play the ball from Leunbou Bardyel Wells.
With 7 minutes to go the home side hit back again scoring their fourth try of the evening, but the icing on the Saints and the Gilford cake came with the last action of the game as the winger dove on a loose ball from Archer clever chip to complete his hat-trick.
Considering the lack of any competitive rugby for over a year this was a great performance from the older heads in the group and an exciting one from the newer members.
Saints Team: Ben Lane; Alfie Whittle, McKenzie Buckley, Sam Haynes, Keane Gilford; Ellis Archer, Kyal Barton; Matthew Parkes, Ryan Wood, Eliot Peposhi, Nathan Bannerman, Alfie Pyke, Kalan Devine.
Interchanges: Desmond Appiah-Kubi, Connor Morley, Jos Appleton, George Delaney, Leunbou Bardyel-Wells.
Tries: McKenzie Buckley (1), Sam Haynes (13), Alfie Whittle (23), Connor Morley (29), Keane Gilford (52,63 & 80), Ryan Wood (60).
Goals: Ellis Archer (1 from 5), Ben Lane (3 from 3).
Warrington Team:Loui Bibey; Jack Lightowler, Jake Thewlis, Zac Bradley-Rowe, Ambrosius Kibula; Jack Edge, Finlay Irwin; Jamie Reddecliff, Aidan Doolan, Oliver Simpson, Adam Holroyd, Lucas Green, Ashley Barnes.
Interchanges:Oliver Simpson (41), Aidan Doolan (44), Jake Thewlis (56), Jack Edge (73).
Tries:Aidan Doolan (4 from 4).