Saints v City of Hull
At the start of the evening if you’d have asked the Saints coaching staff if they would take a draw then they would probably have snatched your hands off with the prospect of facing the City of Hull academy who were above them in the table and playing some good rugby, writes Graham Henthorne.
However, at the end of the match there was a feeling of what might have been having outscored the visitors three tries to two. Unfortunately, the Saints were undone by the usually thoroughly dependable kicking of Brad Billsborough who failed to convert any of the tires.
The game mirrored the first team game of later on taking well over 20 minutes before the deadlock was broken.
But it could and should have been the Saints taking the lead on their first possession when Cameron Brown knocked on over the Hull line.
As it was he scored 25 minutes later jumping blind out of dummy half into the right corner after a great Billsborough high kick had been diffused but inexplicably knocked on from the next tackle.
The game was nip and tuck all half but as ever the visitors, having been under the cosh for many minutes, had their time but were denied an equalising try as Josh Eaves and Chris Follin forced a knock on from the Hull forward over the Saints line.
The possibility of an upset was made even more possible with a fine try for the Saints in the opening seconds of the second half. From the kick-off three drives go the Saints to the 40 metre line on the right. From the play the ball Eaves spotted a gap blind feeding Jorge Lewtas whose miss pass put Tom Nisbett away. He took it 40 metres to the full back before passing inside to the supporting Callum hazard who strode the final 20 to the line.
If it had been possible to keep the lead for 15 to 20 minutes then the pressure would have heaped onto the visitors. As it was five minutes later a poor knock on in the Saints 30 allowed them to score, the conversion bringing them back within two.
Some bizarre refereeing decisions were giving strings of penalties to both sides and the Saints extended their lead with a Kev brown try in the left corner. Mike Weldon, having his best game for a long time, and Evan Bullen had been held up over the line before Matty Costello’s miss pass put the winger away.
On the hour the missed conversions came to haunt the Saints as the visitors, who should have been out of sight, drew level as the scrum half reacted quicker to a knock and speculative grubber in the Saints 10 metre area.
The Saints continued to hang on to the surging visitors but all that effort seemed to have been for nought as a silly stripping penalty 40 metres out seemed to have given the game to Hull as they converted their third kick of the day.
But a great kick off from Billsborough and fine tackling forced the visitors into touch. From the scrum the Saints got a penalty of their own allowing Billsborough to redeem himself with a fine penalty to give the Saints the share of the points which they deserved.
Whilst this was a shame for Billsborough to have had an off day with the boot which ultimately cost the Saints the extra point, it is necessary to point out that the scrum half has won many more matches with his boot and is not to blame for the result. Poor decisions and dropped ball at crucial moments is what cost the win.
The front row of Eaves, Bullen and Matty Lees, celebrating his call-up to the first team squad, were, as ever outstanding but there was an encouraging amount of support off the bench from Lewtas and Hazzard.
The Saints face another daunting task next week with the visitors of the Dragons from Catalans.
Tries: Cameron Brown (26), Callum Hazzard (41), Kevin Brown (52).
Goals: Brad Billsborough 1 from 4.
City of Hull:
Tries: Jordan Lane (46), Harrison Morrow (60).
Goals: Will Oakes 3 from 3.
Half Time: 6-0
Full Time: 14-14
1. Matty Costello (C); 5. Tom Nisbett, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Sean Croston, 2. Kevin Brown; 7. Brad Billsborough, 6. Elliott Jenkins; 8. Matty Lees, 9. Josh Eaves, 19. Evan Bullen, 11. Chris Follin, 12. Owen Smith, 13. Mike Weldon.
Subs: 10. Jordan Olmez, 14. Paul Nash, 16. Callum Hazzard, 17. Jorge Lewtas.
1. Lochlan Fitzgerald; 2. Niall Sidney, 3. Cameron Scott, 4. Kieran Buchanan, 5. Will Oakes; 6. Bobby Downs, 7. Harrison Morrow; 8. Jack Brown, 9. Jez Litten (C), 13. Brad Clavering, 11. Adam Rooks, 12. Owen Harrison, 19. Joe Cator.
Subs: 15. Ben Butler, 16. Jordan Lane, 20. Max Bateman, **. Zeus Silk.