Bradford Bulls v Saints
Given the traumatic events concerning the U16’s from the night before, this should have been a much easier and more rewarding match, writes Graham Henthorne.
However, having missed a glorious chance in the opening set of the game when a wide ball from Matty Costello instead of the short option taken would have seen Tom Nisbett in at the corner. Couple that with then allowing the Bulls to stroll downfield and go over untouched on the last and this turned into a much tougher assignment than it should.
Buoyed by this early success the Bulls tore into the Saints both with and without the ball. The Bulls line speed was better than the Saints all evening and gave little room for manoeuvre to half backs Brad Billsborough and Elliott Jenkins.
This should have been made easier on the quarter hour as the Saints drew level.
Having delivered the inside ball to Costello which the fullback eventually fed inside to Josh Eaves who jinked his way over from 15 out, the half back was viciously hit late off the ball.
Had he stayed down longer than he did the outcome may have been different but a talking to and no card was ever going to be enough.
The two sides went set for set with each other for most of the half with the Saints showing little in the way of enthusiasm.
Two penalties in succession gave the Saints just enough momentum to put the Bulls on their own line and on the last Costello did what he should have done earlier in shooting a miss pass out to his winger Nisbett who touched down in the corner.
The harsh reality of the situation was spelled out in no uncertain terms at the break and seemed to have paid dividends as a good kick chase to Billsborough’s towering bomb forced the centre into dropping the ball.
Three times the Saints were held short as firstly Matty Lees, playing against his old club, then Jenkins and finally Cameron Brown tried their luck. On the last and stuck in the right corner Kev Brown gave enough of a dummy to fool his opposite number and give himself enough space to touch down.
Billsborough was again spot on with his kick off the touchline to give full rewards for the score.
Lees again showed the rest of his pack the way with two good drives gaining two penalties on the way to the Bulls 30 metre line. From the play the ball Jordan Olmez showed what good hands he has taking the ball to the line before slipping a great short ball out to Sam Royle whose fabulous line and strong running saw him over untouched.
The game was gone but instead of playing hard to rattle up some points the Saints almost ambled through the final 20 minutes and this lacklustre attitude cost them dear as with the last two plays of the game the Bulls went 70 metres and scored in the corner.
Lacklustre is unfortunately the best description of most of the Saints team both I defence and in support of each other in attack.
Thankfully not all, however, as Matty Lees again ran hard and with purpose in attack and defence. He was joined in that respect by two of the newest graduates to the team in Sam Royle and especially Chris Kellett who charged into the Bulls line on numerous occasions.
Tries: Wilf Moxon (3), Ryan Leadbeater (79).
Goals: Alix Stephenson 2 from 2.
Tries: Josh Eaves (13), Tom Nisbett (24), Kevin Brown (43), Sam Royle (61).
Goals: Brad Billsborough 4 from 4.
Half Time: 6-12
Full Time: 12-24
1. Alix Stephenson; 2. Jay Panter, 3. Rowan Milnes, 4. Brandon Wood, 5. Ryan Leadbeater; 6. Mathew Fletcher, 7. Jack Wilson; 8. Evan Hodgson, 9. Reiss Butterworth, 10. Oliver Wilson, 11. Wilf Moxon, 12. Vytas Vaznys, 13. Thomas Doyle (C).
Subs: 14. Ebon Scurr, 15. Lawrence Okanga-Ajwang, 16. Jake Lightowler, 17. Elliott Culling.
1. Matty Costello; 2. Kevin Brown, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Owen Smith, 5. Tom Nisbett; 7. Brad Billsborough, 6. Elliott Jenkins; 19. Matty Lees, 9. Josh Eaves, 10. Jordan Olmez, 11. Joe Sharratt, 12. Mike Weldon (C), 13. Callum Hazzard.
Subs: 14. Brad Pinder, 15. Sam Royle, 16. Christian Kellett, 17. Evan Bullen.
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