Widnes Vikings v Saints
Saints U16s ran out easy 22-6 winners at the end of this “Home” fixture switched to the home of the Vikings due to the rainy weather in and around the area, but 20 minutes in that couldn’t have been further from the truth, writes Graham Henthorne.
In all my years of watching Saints teams play I don’t think I’ve seen a team make a worse start to a game than I witnessed this evening!
In their first three sets the Saints ran on the final play not reaching the half way line on the first two – and then then made a massive improvement reaching 10 metres inside the Vikings half on the third!
It was aided and abetted by the Vikings being continually offside from their seven metre starting point but…
However, two unconverted tries later and buoyed by the continual big hits from Brandon O’Neill, and numerous last ditch try saving tackling, notably from Jake Arnold, the Saints started to claw their way back into it.
Jack Welsby and Josh Waterworth managed to salvage a kicking game from somewhere and on the back of some bullocking runs from Ethan Yates the Saints actually got to play in their opponents half.
And that was where the game turned. Put the Vikings under pressure and they cracked coming up with error after error.
Two of the errors were converted into scores by the Saints.
Another try saving tackle, this time from Yates led to a knock on, which was then compounded by a penalty and the Saints were on the front foot threatening the home line. Four tackles into the set and quick hands across the line gave right winger Harvey McDaid just enough space to dive over.
Josh Simm just missed with the conversion but he gave the Saints the lead five minutes later converting Jack Welsby’s try. Two repeat sets proved too much for the home side to survive as first Jack Roughley was held short before on the next tackle Welsby attacking the line, struggled out of the grasp of the defenders before reaching out to score.
The talk was positive in the sheds at the break as Coaches Lomax and Frodsham urged the U16s to play as they had for the final 15 minutes of the half praising them for their ability to fight their way through adversity.
The second half started with a repeat set as the kick off caught Welsby out sailing over his head but good defence got him out of goal and the Saints never looked back.
The Saints poured on the pressure. The Vikings nearly caved in midway through the half as Josh Simm’s 20 metre burst seemed to end with him putting it down over the line but he was ruled to have knocked on.
Minutes later the Saints introduced their secret weapon from the bench and the game was put out of reach of the home side.
40 metres out and running towards the side-line a shimmy and a jink saw Lewis Dodd through and bearing down on the fullback. Another shimmy and he was past him only to be caught from behind but not before he had fed Simm to go under the sticks.
From the restart and we were getting the ready to revive the “It’s like watching Brazil” refrains as the Saints through the ball about with gay abandon. Welsby started it scorching up the blind side from a kick through to his own line. He fed it inside to Yates who then found Simm to take it into the Vikings half.
From the play the ball it was moved left to Dodd who did his thing again this time beating everyone and sailing under the posts for a great try.
After a shaky start the Saints grew in confidence. Yates and Kye Siyani off the bench gave the team go forward which Josh Carrick emulated in a great cameo in the second half. Welsby, Waterworth and Dodd combined well especially with the again good Simm.
But man of the Match was Brandon O’Neill for his intelligent kicking and running from dummy half but especially for his fearless tackling of anyone, usually much bigger than himself.
Next Wednesday we entertain our neighbours from over the Lump so all support will be welcome.
Tries: Harvey McDaid (25), Jack Welsby (30), Josh Simm (60), Lewis Dodd (64).
Goals: Josh Simm 2 from 3, Josh Waterworth 1 from 1.
Tries: Liam Barnes (3), Jarrod O’Connor (17).
Half Time: 8-10
Full Time: 8-22
1. Daniel Hill; 5. Callum Watson, 3. Harry Moxham, 4. Oliver Brookes, 2. Liam Barnes; 6. Anthony Fenlon, 7. Nathan Redmond; 8. Jake Bradley, 9. Kellen Wood, 10. Josh Wilde, 11. Bradley Calland, 12. Sam Walters, 13. Jarrod O’Connor.
Subs: 14. Ciaran O’Donnell, 15. Cameron Reilly, 16. Robbie Ascroft, 17. Alexander Peart, 18. Elliot Smith.
1. Jamie Little; 2. Harvey McDaid, 3. Sam Morley, 4. Zak Critchley, 5. Jake Arnold; 6. Jack Welsby, 7. Josh Waterworth; 8. Kian Horridge, 9. Brandon O’Neill, 10. Cameron Hetherington, 11. Josh Simm, 12. Brandon Scully, 13. Matthew Foster (C).
Subs: 14. Keenan McDaid, 15. Ethan Yates, 16. Kye Siyani, 17. Josh Hadland, 18. Lewis Dodd, 19. Jack Roughley, 20. Josh Carrick.
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