Newcastle Thunder v Saints
Saints sent a very young side on the long trip to Newcastle to face an improved Thunder side and were rewarded with a hard fought 40-10 win, writes Graham Henthorne.
With a fair number of the usual U19s involved in the fine Reserves win over Hull this was an opportunity for many of last year’s newly promoted U16s team to convince Coach Derek Traynor of their worth.
The Saints knew they were in for a much harder game than in any of their previous visits to the North East as the Thunder opened the scoring in the left corner after a great 40/20.
But they didn’t panic. Brad Pinder’s wonderfully placed restart kick bounced dead on the 4G pitch and three tackles into the Saints attack Pinder’s short ball saw Evan Bullen held up over the line when it looked easier for the big prop to score. Two tackles later and Pinder himself was held up. But from his play the ball Elliott Jenkins’ fine grubber sat up nicely for Alex Eckley to pounce for the try.
Four tackles into the restart set and a planned move saw Ryan Horne ship the ball out the back to Kevin brown on the overlap. The full back immediately sent a miss pass out to winger Sean Croston whose handoff allowed him to set off on a 50 metre run. Intelligently he curved infield towards not only the full back but also to the supporting Pinder who fed Jenkins to go over for a fine try.
Minutes later and Jenkins was held upon the last as another chance went missing.
There followed a combination of bizarre knock on decisions and poor Saints handling which saw the home side have nine sets in the Saints 20 metre area. But despite the handling, tackling was ferocious in keeping the line intact.
Four minutes from the break the Saints finally broke the spell with a penalty of their own and a great inside step saw the impressive Joe Sharratt slice through the line and stroll around to the posts.
More of the same with a greater intensity was the call at the interval and unfortunately that’s what we got as the Thunder full back exposed poor decisions out wide to round the Saints defensive line then pass inside to his supporting second row to go over under the black dot.
But as in the first half the Saints just turned the screw. Another neat Jenkins grubber coupled with a fine chase from Captain Eckley gave the Saints a repeat set. Drives from Jordan Olmez and Christian Kellett saw Jenkins feed Croston and the winger finished from 20 out.
The Saints piled on the pressure with Eckley and Sharratt both held up. But a fabulous sleight of hand tip on pass from Cameron Brown again saw Croston in at the right flag.
The try to finally break the resolve of the home side came just on the hour mark and again followed a barnstorming run from the irrepressible Jorge Lewtas. The prop broke clear and took on the full back before being stopped 30 out. Quick play the balls saw Ben Sims able to step over to the right of the posts.
A dummy show and go try from Kev Brown was just rewards for another typical hard working display from the full back.
But the final word went to Sims scoring his brace with some good interpassing with Croston before rounding to touch down under the posts.
As with all young sides you get the good with the not so good and there was plenty of both from the Saints today. Eckley and Bullen led the line well, there was a great cameo off the bench from Christian Kellett whose strong running was only bettered by some bone-crunching tackling.
But head and shoulders above everyone else was Jorge Lewtas who had his best outing in the red vee. The Thunder couldn’t handle him either with or without the ball.
Needless to say next week in the South of France will be a much more difficult task but the team will be a different team both in personnel and in attitude. However, many good lessons were learnt today.
Tries: Mark McCallan (5), Adam Bielby (41).
Goals: Jake Wood (1 from 2).
Tries: Alex Eckley (8), Elliott Jenkins (11), Joe Sharratt (36), Sean Croston (45 & 56), Ben Sims (63 & 72), Kevin Brown (67).
Goals: Tom Nisbett (4 from 8).
Half Time: 4-18
Full Time: 10-40
1. Jake Wood; 2. Scott Derrick, 3. Arron McBride, 4. Mark McCallan, 5. Jack Quinn; 6. Dan Coates, 7. Cai Ellis; 8. Sandy Rae, 9. Ryan Jones, 10. Liam Tasker, 11. Jed Charlton, 12. Adam Bielby, 13. David Weetman.
Subs: 14. Owen Reed, 15. Joe Smith-Millican, 16. Rory Nettleton, 17. Will Bentley.
1. Kevin Brown; 2. Sean Croston, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Luke Ward, 5. Tom Nisbett; 6. Ryan Horne, 7. Elliott Jenkins; 16. Evan Bullen, 9. Brad Pinder, 8. Jorge Lewtas, 12. Alex Eckley (C), 11. Joe Sharratt, 13. Sam Royle.
Subs: 10. Jordan Olmez 14. Paul Nash, 15. Ben Sims, 17. Christian Kellett.