Bradford Bulls v Saints
The Saints U19s lost their second match in a row on a freezing, foggy night in Bradford, writes Graham Henthorne.
Despite being up at the break the home side managed to control the ball better in the second period allowing their bigger, older forwards to eventually overpower the younger Saints side 14-10.
Although it has to be said that a ruck penalty count of seven to none in favour of the Bulls did make it easier for them to trundle downfield.
The Saints started brightly and were ahead on six minutes as Jack Welsby finished off a 60 metre move.
Callum Hazzard’s great ball put skipper Alex Eckley through the line and the big prop showed good composure by committing the full back before putting the supporting Welsby away for the final 30 metre sprint to the sticks.
Ultimately the match was lost on and around the 15th minute as two try scoring opportunities were again put down by the Saints.
The first came on the last after Eckley had been held over the line as Cam Brown put the ball down.
The second, after good defence forced the Bulls error on their own 30, came courtesy of a disputed disallowed try to Luke Ward. He was deemed to have been held up but Saints fans close to the tackle were of a different opinion!
Callum Hazzard stretched the lead to eight points with a penalty for a late hit on Jake Wingfield but the last 10 minutes belonged to the Bulls.
Two repeat sets in the clinging, cold mud sapped the Saints strength enough to allow the Bulls prop to charge over.
The lead was maintained with a fine defensive set in their own 10 metre area culminating in a try saving last tackle from Kelvin Ojeaburu.
The two sides knew the importance of possession on a night such as this and went set for set for ten minutes until Hazzard further stretched the lead to four with a penalty for another late hit.
But the larger Bulls pack was taking its toll on the Saints as, coupled with numerous knock-ons, the Saints found themselves camped in their own half.
The Bulls pulled level just before the hour going in on an overlap down the left and continued to press but the Saints line held out.
Regaining possession the Saints marched downfield to get two repeat sets of their own but, crucially, couldn’t convert the pressure into points.
With 10 minutes to go the Bulls finally went ahead with a try in the right corner courtesy of an extremely flat pass.
Try as they might the Saints just couldn’t quite muster the energy to break the resolute Bulls.
Hazzard and Eckley again did the business down the middle helped by Jorge Lewtas, Brandon O’Neill and the back row trio of Sharratt, Royle and Follin.
Jack Welsby tried his best to be the hero with the ball as so often this season but this week it wasn’t to be.
Bradford Bulls U19s:
Tries: Oliver Wilson (32), Sam Smith (57), Murphy Smith (70).
Goals: Alix Stephenson 1 from 4.
Tries: Jack Welsby (6).
Goals: Callum Hazzard 3 from 3.
Half Time: 6-8
Full Time: 14-10
1. Alix Stephenson; 2. Murphy Smith, 3. Elliott Culling, 4. Sam Smith, 5. Ryan Butterworth; 6. Rowan Milnes, 7. Cobi Green; 8. Oliver Wilson, 9. Reiss Butterworth, 10. Keelan Foster, 11. Matthew Storton, 12. Lawrence Okanga-Ajwang, 15. Matthew Fletcher.
Subs: 13. Alfie McGreevy, 14. Lochlan McGill, 16. Bradley Ho, 17. Ebon Scurr.
1. Tom Nisbett; 2. Sean Croston, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Luke Ward, 5. Kelvin Ojeaburu; 6. Jack Welsby, 7. Jake Wingfield; 8. Alex Eckley (C), 9. Brandon O’Neill, 10. Callum Hazzard, 11. Joe Sharratt, 12. Sam Royle, 13. Chris Follin.
Subs: 14. Paul Nash, 15. Kye Siyani, 16. Jorge Lewtas, 17. Chris Kellett.
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