Stronger second half secures Reserves win over Trin

St.Helens Reserves secured their second win of the season against a hard-working Wakefield Trinity Reserves side, 28-16.

Derek Hardman had a number of our younger members of the First Team squad to call upon, as well as Waqa Blake and Sam Royle, as the Saints looked to shake off the tight loss to Leeds Rhinos Reserves last time out a fortnight ago.

Wakefield started well on their first attacking set, a high ball swirled in the air and was allowed to bounce back into their own hands, scramble defence cut them down to stop the threat after some quick passing after it.

A loose carry coming out of our own 30m gifted the visitors the ball back. Trinity on the last kicked a high ball to the right-edge, to all in the Totally Wicked Stadium it looked as if the Wakefield winger knocked on, lost the ball, and then grounded it, however, Joe Law was awarded it by the referee much to the crowd’s bemusement and the conversion was missed by Myles Lawford, 0-4 with five minutes played.

The Red V appeared to begin the game slowly with errors and penalties gifting Wakefield position and chances, after holding them out by our own line we eventually got our first major attack in the opposition half. Sharp passing to the right edge opened the Trin up and Ben Will from 30m out sprinted towards the corner for our opening points of the game. George Whitby on kicking duties pulled the attempt across the face of the posts, 14 minutes in, 4-4.

Saints were left to rue more mistakes, an error inside our own 30m gave Wakefield a scrum straight after we scored points, they passed out to the left for Thomas Delaney to dive in at the corner. Lawford again missed the conversion, 8-4.

Dayon Sambou then on our left wing found some space, with the fullback closing him down he kicked but Wakefield recovered the ball back to stop our second goodball chance of the match. Another error allowed Trinity a scrum, a 40/20 kick attempt knocked back in by Lane was judged a knock-on, off the scrum Delaney crashed into the corner for his brace. Lawford missed to make the game 4-12.

Hardman’s troops had to fight for their chances to attack in the first half, good work by McKenzie Buckley offloaded the ball to Lane, the fullback placed a smart kick to force a goal line drop out. Working back to the line, St.Helens pulled the ball right again to Ben Will for a brace of his own. Whitby’s kick this time was a touch too short of the sticks, 8-12 with 13 left in the first stanza.

Harry Robertson began looking lively on attack, on a last he tried a drive on his own and came inches short of the line. Following it though Saints were forced back into defensive mode again, repeatedly on their own line, firstly off a judged incorrect play of the ball for Waqa Blake but we strongly forced the ball out in a tackle.

Harvey Braddish and McKenzie Buckley carried well moving us back into goodball position but no luck adding points. With the half time break approaching and Wakefield attacking, Dayon Sambou put in a big tackle and the ball went backwards but judged again favourably for the visitors giving them another go at our line. In the last play of the half Sambou took his opposite number into touch to stop a Trin try.

George Whitby’s restarting kick was a fantastic one, Wakefield could not deal with it and Saints got a goal line drop out. However, both teams would for the opening few minutes of the second period trade the ball back and forth off drops and loose carries. Neither really had a foothold in the half yet.

St.Helens with Wakefield camped inside their own half had a bit of bounce now about them, close drives by Blake, Lane and Leon Cowen got the Red V looking far brighter. A shove on the last tackle gifted Saints a repeat set and Jonny Vaughan juked around some Trinity defenders, and with three men on him he still grounded the ball to level proceedings 51 minutes in. Whitby’s kick could not nudge us in front, scuffing off his boot for a 12-12 scoreline.

Near the hour mark, after controlling the territory battle after the break, Saints finally made it pay with more points. Steady build-up saw Jonny Vaughan on that right-edge again juke around his opposition, and again like a carbon copy of his first with scrambling defenders all over him he still grounded the ball. A deserved score for the team, rewarding the control of the game, but the wind was playing its part in the conversions and Whitby missed his fourth kick attempt, 16-12 it remained.

A bit more confident, St.Helens carried with real zip upon the restart and a high tackle allowed the Red V to go in again, Alfie Sinclair off a short ball near the line bested four Wakefield men to power over and ground the ball under the posts for back-to-back quick scores. Whitby would not be denied this time, adding his first conversion for a ten-point difference.

With ten minutes left in the piece, Ben Will almost set up a phenomenal try, he got the ball passed to him on the wing and before heading into touch he kicked the ball (somehow) off the outside of his foot and in mid-air, Ben Lane chased valiantly and was just short of grounding it.

Wakefield wanted to finish strong, a penalty moved them towards the Saints’ try-line, a rare sight for the visitors in the second half. On the last with Hardman’s players on their own line, Waqa Blake calmly looked to take a man into touch, that Trinity player got off a miracle offload but Harry Robertson was there to claim it and off to the races he went! The halfback sprinted 100m to score under the posts and beat several Wakefield players to do so for a memorable score. Whitby added his second kick of the afternoon to bring the scores to 28-12 with four minutes left.

Trinity would get the final say in the match, another penalty moved their way back to our line and a floating Lawford kick into space on the left corner allowed Thomas Delaney to seal a hat-trick. The final action of the day came off Lawford’s boot which missed the conversion attempt from out wide.

A much improved second half for St.Helens against a very game and hard-working Wakefield Trinity Reserves side got our second win of the Reserves Championship 2024 season. Next up for the Red V in the competition will be Hull FC at home once again on Saturday, 20th April at the Totally Wicked Stadium!

Match Summary

St.Helens Reserves team: Ben Lane, Dayon Sambou, Waqa Blake, Jonny Vaughan, Ben Will, Harry Robertson, George Whitby, Alfie Sinclair, Ciaran Nolan, Brett Bailey, Harvey Braddish, Sam Royle, and Leon Cowen

Interchanges: Sam Oakes, Jerry Carty, McKenzie Buckley, Niall Dean

18th player: Owen Dagnall

Tries: Ben Will (11, 26), Jonny Vaughan (51, 62), Alfie Sinclair (65), Harry Robertson (75).

Conversions: George Whitby 2/6

Wakefield Trinity Reserves team: Romain Franco, Brook Stanley, Joe Law, Noah Booth, Thomas Delaney, Joshua Phillips, Myles Lawford, Charles Tetley, Cass Walker-Smith, Alfie Briggs, Ethan Wood, Cain Staveley-Carr, and Zachary McSwiney

Interchanges: Ashton Winks, Harry Sheridan, Oliver Maher, Ellis Lingard

18th player: Wesley Brown

Tries: Joe Law (5), Thomas Delaney (15, 20, 78)

Conversions: Myles Lawford 0/3


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