Saints v Huddersfield Giants
The 16s made it three wins out of three in probably their sternest test of the lot by finally overcoming a tough and combative Giants side 34-14, writes Graham Henthorne.
Running with the wind in the first half the Saints built up a commanding 14 point lead but needed all of that and more to withstand significant periods of sustained pressure.
The Giants could and should have taken the lead in the fourth minute but a dropped pass let the Saints off the hook and they made the visitors pay; Lewis Dodd dummying his way through the line on his 50 metre run to the sticks.
The visitors were falling victim to the Saints proactive defence and yet another dropped ball in their own half led to the Saints second try.
From the resultant scrum Ben Betts took three men over the line with him to score.
Harvey McDaid bombed a try with a knock on and from a last tackle kick the Saints knocked on again, this time under their own posts.
The Giants punished the error with a barge over try from the big No. 8.
Saints were determined to right the wrong, however, and forced an error from the kick off. Three tackles later and Harry Brooks was scoring under the sticks to regain the advantage.
Unfortunately, the tit for tat continued as the Giants kick off sailed back to them in the wind and they went over down the left.
With five minutes to the interval Jumah Sambou continued his impressive start to the season with a crunching tackle to knock the ball out of his opposite number’s hands. Two tackles later and Dan Ganson stepped inside the cover to score in the left corner.
Dodd’s splendid touchline conversion from his wrong side and contending with the strong wind put the Saints up by 14 at the break.
The Saints profligacy in attack continued at the start of the second half as strong running centre Evan Jones had a try disallowed for a forward pass.
The agony was short lived though as substitute Lewis Baxter’s great angled run saw him under the sticks.
He had another disallowed for offside from Dodd’s neat grubber kick before the Giants finally held the ball for long enough to find their feet.
They camped out in the Saints 20 metre area for three repeat sets further enhanced with a smattering of penalties. The pressure finally told as a four man miss pass saw the visitors over down the Saints right.
However, it is a testament to the Saints resilience that they withstood all that pressure over a ten minute period only cracking once.
Normal service was resumed from the kick off as tough tackling forced the Giants to knock-on on half way and from the scrum Dodd scooted round the blind side, shot through the gap and outpaced the cover to the corner.
This was a scratchy performance against a good side. The tackling improved in the second half with Lewis Baxter’s enthusiasm leading the way. The centre pairing of Sambou and Jones provides dynamism and worries defences and with Ethan Caine his usual combative self down the middle the Saints had too much.
St Helens U16s:
Tries: Lewis Dodd (8 & 61), Ben Betts (15), Harry Brooks (23), Dan Ganson (30), Lewis Baxter (42).
Goals: Lewis Dodd 5 from 5, Harvey McDaid 0 from 1.
Tries: Robson Stevens (21), Joe Burgess (25), Arif Burcak (23).
Goals: David Gibbons 1 from 3.
Half Time: 24-10
Full Time: 34-14
1. Harvey McDaid; 5. Will Loughnane, 4. Evan Jones, 3. Jumah Sambou, 2. Theo Robinson; 6. Dan Ganson, 7. Lewis Dodd; 8. Will Toone, 9. Keenan McDaid, 10. Ethan Caine, 11. Ben Betts, 12. Jack Stephenson, 13. Joe Spencer.
Subs: 14. Jamie Duffy, 15. Lewis Baxter, 16. George Connolly, 17. Harry Brooks, 18. Ryan Appleton, 19. Reece Sumner, 20. Zak Lee.
1. George Collins; 2. Kieran O’Reilly, 3. Marcus Garley, 4. Aiden McGowan, 5. Arif Burcak; 6. David Gibbons, 7. Kieran Rush; 8. Robson Stevens, 9. Sean Slater, 10. Lewis Laing, 11. Joe Burgess, 12. James Johnson, 15. Kobe Poching.
Subs: 14. Stan Kilburn, 16. Kenan Lee, 17. Alfie Schultz, 18. Arian Woods, 19. Bennett Tupaea.