Saints Academy came from behind to beat Wigan in the derby on Saturday at Robin Park Arena.
Six minutes into the game, after being granted a ‘six again’, Wigan had a set 10 out from the Saints line and broke the deadlock when Tom Ratchford dummied the ball after running across the field, breaking two tackles and going through to score just to the left of the posts. Zack Eckersley converted putting Wigan 6-0 ahead.
Five minutes later after a spilled ball from an attacking kick, Wigan set up another attack in the middle of the field from the scrum. They played right, before going back left on the next player where Ellis Hobson went through the middle of the field to score right next to the right post. Eckersley converted, 12-0.
Another penalty for offside presented Wigan with more opportunity to attack and on the fourth tackle they came right where Finley Beardsworth broke the line and beat Ben Lane at full back despite his efforts to score to the left of the posts. Eckersley converted again to put Wigan 18-0 with 15 minutes on the clock.
With 25 minutes on the clock, the Saints had created plenty of chances to get themselves back in the game, but a pass back in field from Sam Haynes found the hands of Wigan and an error from Alfie Pyke put an end to some promising play down the right.
But in the 32nd minute, the Saints finally got on the scoresheet. We got the ball on halfway following an error from Wigan and after playing from left to right, Haynes out-muscled the Wigan tackle attempts to ground the ball in the right corner. Will Roberts couldn’t convert from the sideline, 18-4.
The set from kick-off saw the Saints awarded a penalty after a high tackle on Ciaran Nolan. After some strong carries, the ball was played left on the fourth tackle where Ellis Archer sent McKenzie Buckley through a gap where he stepped the full back to score on the left. Roberts’ kick hit both posts, and bounced back out, 18-8.
With three minutes to go, the Saints were in again after a brilliant set. Some strong carries from Pyke and Noah Stephens set the Saints in the Wigan 30 metre area. On the last, the ball was run to the left where Archer got his arm free in on the left and offloaded to Dayon Sambou who beat two defenders and put a brilliant kick in for Keane Gilford to score. Roberts’ converted to send the Saints into half time trailing by four, 18-14.
Two minutes into the second half, after Wigan knocked on from the kick-off, Saints started an assault on the Wigan line. After getting back-to-back penalties on the Wigan line, the early pressure finally broke when Nolan got the offload from Stephens and dived over to score under the sticks. Roberts converted, 18-20.
With 46 minutes gone Saints were in again after Wigan spilled the kick to the corner, they swooped on the ball and were tackled in goal and had to drop out. Saints attacked down the right where Archer sent Pyke through the line and he stretched over to score a well-deserved try. Roberts converted from the tight angle to make the score 18-24.
The Saints kept their scoring run going in the 50th minute after an error from Wigan coming out of their half. Saints got another chance to attack. On the fourth tackle the ball was played to the right where Jonathon Vaughan found Haynes with a brilliant pass and he went over right in the corner for his second. Roberts missed from out wide, 18-28.
Wigan got themselves back on the board in the 63rd minute after Reagan Sumner found an offload to Reece Stanton who went over to score on the right of the field. Billy Myers took over kicking duties and missed the kick, 22-28.
But with seven minutes to go Saints extended their lead by eight after a late hit on Archer after passing the ball gave Saints a penalty 15 out from the posts and we opted to take the two. Roberts kicked the goal from the left of the posts to put Saints 22-30 ahead.
And it would be Saints who wrapped up the scoring in the last minute of the game. Man of the Match, Stephens charged the ball into the Wigan line 30 metres from the try line and broke through to run away and score next to the posts. Roberts kicked the goal, to take the final score to 22-36 as Saints brought home the derby win with a brilliant ‘Never Write off the Saints’ comeback victory.
Wigan team: Reagan Sumner, Harry Smithers, Harvey Wilson, Zack Eckersley, Jacob Douglas, Tom Ratchford, Billy Myers, Harvie Hill, Reece Bushell, Ellis Hobson, Junior Nsemba, Finley Beardsworth, Joe Baldwin.
Bench: Lewis Pinder, Max Wood, Ryan Brown, Reece Stanton.
Tries: Tom Ratchford, Ellis Hobson, Finley Beardsworth, Reece Stanton.
Goals: Zack Eckersley (3 from 3), Billy Myers (0 from 1).
Saints team: Ben Lane, Sam Haynes, Jonathon Vaughan, Dayon Sambou, Keane Gilford, Ellis Archer, Will Roberts, George Delaney, Eliot Peposhi, Kal Devine, McKenzie Buckley, Alfie Pyke, Niall Dean.
Bench: Ciaran Nolan, Noah Stephens, Nathan Bannerman, Alfie Sinclair.
Tries: Sam Haynes (2), Keane Gilford, McKenzie Buckley, Alfie Pyke, Ciaran Nolan, Noah Stephens.
Goals: Will Roberts (5 from 8).
Half time: 18-14
Full time: 22-36
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