Saints v Wigan Warriors
The Saints fell to the Old Enemy for the second time this season in a frustrating display at a windy Crusader Park in Thatto Heath, writes Graham Henthorne.
An inability to create pressure at the end of sets and the almost manic will to force the ball on first or second tackle meant the visitors started their sets in Saints territory far too often.
The visitors opened the scoring in the 13th minute after two successive penalties had piggybacked them into the Saints 10.
They could and should have doubled their lead five minutes later but the pass was dropped.
This spurred the Saints into 10 minutes of domination started by Faye Gaskin. On the last she chipped over the defensive line into space then put pressure onto the advancing full back regathering the knock-on.
Unfortunately, the ball was knocked on two tackles later but the Saints had at least had the ball in the visitors half.
A poor kick on the next set allowed the Saints to set up to score the try of the game. Good work by the pack, especially from Izzy Rudge down the left, put the Saints into the 20 metre area. On the last the ball was moved right where Zoe Harris and Naomi Williams both drew their opposite numbers putting Alex Simpson over in the corner.
Against the stiff breeze Gaskins kick fell short but the scores were level.
The Saints had their tails up and led by Lizzie Gladman were charging into the opposition.
On the half hour the Saints took the lead through Jade Ward’s first try in the red vee.
A big drive from Roxy Mura finished with her held up 10 metres from the left edge on the second, then Channy Crowl was held short on the third. From the play the ball Harris again took control passing the ball right to Ward who bobbled it before securing possession and touching down. Agonisingly Gaskin’s conversion hit the post.
That was as good as it got for the Saints as a missed tackle down the middle allowed the visitors to retake the lead going into half time.
The Saints started the second period big but Gaskin’s last tackle cross kick was missed by the Saints left edge but picked up and returned 60 metres. Gaskin showed the urgency and desire required by tracking back from the right to save the day down the Saints left flank.
The Saints drew level with a Gaskin penalty on 56 minutes but it could have been so much better had Ward’s pass gone to a Saints hand on the previous set instead of being intercepted.
The crucial try came on a chip on the last down the visitors left which Simpson failed to knock dead and was pounced on for the score.
Entering the last quarter the Saints inability to respect possession again came to haunt them as they panicked a bit and pushed the pass too much with plenty of time left on the clock.
Both matches against the visitors this year have been eminently winnable but on both occasion’s poor game sense has resulted in the Saints beating themselves.
Crowl and Emily Rudge along with Gladman and Izzy Rudge off the bench ran hard. Harris and Gaskin tried to move the team about but too many had off days.
Tries: Alex Simpson (23), Jade Ward (29), .
Goals: Faye Gaskin 1 from 3.
Tries: Michelle Davis (13), Sarah Harrison (33), Rachel Thomson (61).
Goals: Michelle Davis 1 from 3.
Half Time: 8-10
Full Time: 10-14
1. Becca Rotheram;2. Alex Simpson, 3. Naomi Williams, 4. Roxy Mura, 5. Leah Burke; 6. Zoe Harris, 7. Faye Gaskin; 8. Sarah Lovejoy, 9. Tara Jones (C), 10. Vicky Whitfield, 11. Jade Ward, 12. Emily Rudge, 13. Channy Crowl.
Subs: 14. Pippa Birchall, 15. Isobell Rudge, 16. Lizzie Gladman, 21. Carys Marsh.
1. Rebecca Greenfield; 20. Alison Burrows, 3. Rachel Thomson, 4. Georgia Wilson, 5. Michelle Davis; 6. Gemma Walsh, 9. Charlotte Foley; 19. Hannah Goodwin, 26. Claire Hall, 10. Joanne Aspin, 24. Vanessa Temple, 25. Amanda Sibbald, 7. Sarah Harrison.
Subs: 8. Chloe Hammond, 16. Emma Dwyer, 22. Jade Gregory, 23. Lucy Baggaley.