Saints v Warrington Wolves
Saints started this game determined to put the lows of the second half in Catalans out of their minds but no matter what they did they only seemed to make things worse, writes Graham Henthorne.
The Wolves squandered a gilt edged chance in the first minute knocking on from an overlap down the left.
But minutes later and they found themselves ahead as their hooker charged through a yawning gap right down the middle of the Saints defensive line. He then angled away from the Saints cover beating them all to the left corner for the try.
On ten minutes the Wolves went 10 points ahead. They had gained a repeat set after Kev Brown had failed to deal with a high bomb on the last and scored again on the last as the dummy half dove in for a soft try.
Both teams were profligate with possession knocking on early in the sets but as the half wore on the Saints managed to gain a bit of field position, put the visitors under a bit of pressure and watched the errors mount.
An excellent Elliott Jenkins high kick was fumbled by the Wolves full back giving the Saints six more tackles. Callum Hazzard and Matty Lees went close before Jenkins hoisted another kick on the last this time towards the left corner. Tom Nisbett challenged for the ball knocking it back only for his centre the returning Matty Costello to pick up and stroll over.
When Jordan Olmez came off the bench and was held up over the line things looked to have changed in the Saints favour. However, a knock on and another yawning gap allowed the Wolves to once again stretch the lead to 12 at the break.
A change of tactics at the break brought immediate rewards as the Saints charged through the heart of the visitors to gain a repeat set from another high bomb to the beleaguered Wolves full back.
Three tackles into the new set and Olmez charged onto a short ball and bulldozed his way over.
Poor defence down the middle of the Saints line meant the Wolves stretched the lead out to 10 again.
But the message finally got through and the Saints started to make easy metres through the visitors.
Evan Bullen, who had a fine game leading from the front, was held over the line robbing him of a deserved score but after fellow prop Matty Lees was held close Jenkins’ cross kick again produced dividends as Jordan Gibbons mopped up yet another spilled ball.
The Saints were back to within six now and playing with their tails up if not with their brains for most of the time.
Cometh the hour cometh the man and with eight minutes left Captain Mike Weldon drew the Saints level. He ran a beautiful line down the wide right channel as he had done ten minutes earlier when he was just tackled without any support. This time he didn’t need any as he charged over untouched.
Brad Billsborough’s goal levelled the scores and with five minutes to go he had the first drop goal attempt from an optimistic 45 metres out. His effort went wide as did the Wolves attempt a minute later this time from only 10 metres out after good harrying from Hazzard.
From the restart the Saints steadily work their way down field gaining a scrum on the ten metre line after a Wolves tap down.
From the scrum Billsborough placed himself at first receiver and calmly slotted over the winning drop goal when everyone least expected it.
Despite playing poorly you have to hand it to the players in that they found a way to win.
Losing Alex Eckley early doors didn’t help but the impact of Bullen and Olmez off the bench turned the game.
Tries: Matty Costello (22), Jordan Olmez (44), Jordan Gibbons (56), Mike Weldon (72).
Goals: Brad Billsborough 2 from 4.
Drop Goals: Brad Billsborough (78).
Tries: Nathan Ainsworth (5), Ryan Jones (10), Pat Moran (31), Liam Aspin (52).
Goals: Nathan Ainsworth 2 from 4.
Half Time: 4-16
Full Time: 21-20
1. Kevin Brown; 2. Jordan Gibbons, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Matty Costello, 5. Tom Nisbett; 6. Brad Billsborough, 7. Elliott Jenkins; 8. Matty Lees, 9. Josh Eaves, 16. Alex Eckley, 11. Owen Smith, 12. Mike Weldon (C), 13. Callum Hazzard.
Subs: 10. Jordan Olmez, 14. Brad Pinder, 17. Joe Sharratt, 19. Evan Bullen.
1. Charlie Phythian; 2. Liam Jones, 3. Jack Roper, 4. Sam Storey, 5. Ryan Jones; 22. Connor Taylor, 7. Harry Reardon; 8. Alex Tankard, 20. Nathan Ainsworth, 10. Tom Pinder, 11. Ellis Gillam, 12. Matty Kilgannon, 13. Pat Moran.
Subs: 14. Liam Aspin, 15. Jack Wilson, 16. Ellis Robson, 17. Jack Cottington.
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