I hate to bring it up but if you want to sum this match up think back to the first half of the Cup semi-final and that’ll just about do it, writes Graham Henthorne.

Start really well. Make a mistake. Panic a bit. Try too much too early. Panic a bit more and the game is gone.

That unfortunately was what happened this evening and if you give too much possession to the Rhinos their big forwards will make you pay.

The Saints started really well forcing the Rhinos to drop out on their first possession with aggressive defence.

This led to a head high tackle on Joe Sharratt in front of the sticks which Callum Hazzard converted, albeit off the left hand upright.

But one knock on in our own 40 led to a repeat set and four tackles later the massive prop was trundling under the posts.

Worse was to follow as another dropped ball was picked up by the second row and he strolled in.

Then the “we’ve got to score every possession” mentality kicked in gifting possession and position and keeping the Saints hemmed in.

Three tries in the final 10 minutes of the half as the Saints, not unsurprisingly tired, left a mountain to climb.

The dressing room was calm as the coaching staff and players reminded each other to get back to what worked.

A six tackle set and kick on the last in the first set after the restart may not be much to write home about but after the first half it was a major improvement.

And when John Hutchings, Paul Nash and Josh Simm combined to put the Rhinos winger into touch the Saints found themselves on the attack.

From the scrum four drives found the Saints to the right of the Rhinos sticks. A quick play the ball and Jake Wingfield’s miss pass found Callum Hazzard charging on to it from three metres out.

Another try in quick succession would really have put the cat amongst the pigeons. As it was a knock on on half way saw the Rhinos extend their lead with a dart from dummy half.

Wingfield was denied a 40/20 by the referee despite being given by his touch judge and only a Matty Foster last ditch tackle and an offside kept the score as it was.

Just past the hour the tackling started to take its toll and the Rhinos hit forty catching a lazy marker on the retreat.

At that point it could have got really ugly but the Saints showed the character they have displayed all season in not throwing in the towel but finally took it to the visitors.

On the last Jack Welsby’s cross kick was chased by Sam Royle and Hutchings forcing a drop out. On the last tackle Welsby’s grubber was pounced on by Foster 10 metres in from the eft corner.

The final act of the game saw the Saints restore some pride in winning the second half with Paul Nash dummying his way over to the right of the posts.

A disappointing end to the season definitely but only five of this side are top age players with the rest a mixture of middle and bottom age.

At the start of the season I don’t think anyone expected this team to get this close to glory. But as with most Saints Academy teams they find the will and character from somewhere to do special things and that is what this bunch of lads have done.

Alex Eckley played a Captains knock as ever and his words at the interval galvanised the side, He will be missed next year as will Chris Follin for his tireless efforts.

Best for the Saints tonight were Sam Royle and Joe Sharratt who both ran their blood to water for 80 minutes with little success along with Callum Hazzard who has been a class apart from most opponents he has faced throughout the campaign.

Match Summary:

Saints U19s:
Tries: Callum Hazzard (43), Matty Foster (69), Paul Nash (79).
Goals: Callum Hazzard 2 from 3, Jack Welsby 0 from 1, Josh Simm 1 from 1.

Leeds Rhinos U19s:
Tries: Mikolaj Oledzki (8), Alex Sutcliffe (15), Corey Johnson (28), Liam Whitton (30), Muizz Mustapha (36), Harvey Whiteley (51), Owen Trout (63).
Goals: Harvey Spence 6 from 7.

Half Time: 2-28
Full Time: 18-40


1. Tom Nisbet; 22. Kev Brown, 19. Cameron Brown, 4. Josh Simm, 5. John Hutchings; 6. Jack Welsby, 7. Jake Wingfield; 8. Alex Eckley (C), 9. Paul Nash, 10. Callum Hazzard, 11. Chris Follin, 12. Sam Royle, 13. Joe Sharratt.
Subs: 14. Ryan Horne, 15. Matty Foster, 16. Kye Siyani, 17. Chris Kellett.

1. Liam Whitton; 2. Ben Markland, 3. Harry Newman, 4. Jack Broadbent, 5. Kiedan Hartley; 6. Harvey Spence, 7. Reece Chapman-Smith; 8. Mikolaj Oledzki, 9. Corey Johnson, 10. Spencer Darley, 11. Owen Trout, 12. Alex Sutcliffe, 13. Loui McConnell.
Subs: 14. Harvey Whiteley, 15. Thomas Holroyd, 16. Muizz Mustapha, 17. Tyler Dupree.