Newcastle Thunder v Saints
Just as teams from London used to be, so teams from the North East can be underestimated, writes Graham Henthorne.
But only at your peril nowadays as they have progressed steadily and if you don’t watch they’ll catch you unawares.
However, try as you might to warn your players sometimes they don’t listen and can get caught out. Thankfully the Saints managed to show enough of their quality to edge past the Thunder 40-26.
They got off to the perfect start to the game scoring with their first possession. The Thunder had knocked-on on their own 30 and from the scrum first Josh Simm then Callum Hazzard and Chris Kellett had all gone close. On the fourth tackle quick hands from Jack Welsby and then a fabulous flick from Cam Brown found Tom Nisbett in just enough space to do a Makinson in the right corner.
The lead was extended on the quarter hour as Josh Simm made good ground down the left from a scrum on the Saints 40. Two tackles later and his left sided second row partner Joe Sharratt was beating two tacklers to go over.
Poor handling dogged the Saints all day and it was from a knock on from the kick off from Welsby which gave scrum to the Thunder on the Saints 10. The ball was moved left and the centre went through some poor tackling and around to the posts.
The Saints regained their 10 point advantage on their next set. On the fourth, Welsby used his pace and guile to dummy his way through the line taking it 20 metres to the full back before feeding it inside to Simm to go the last 40 to the posts.
But as I intimated at the beginning psychologically the Saints took the foot off the gas allowing the Thunder straight back in when they should have been putting the game to bed.
From the kick off the Saints turned over possession and from a scrum 30 metres out poor tackling allowed the home full back a stroll in.
Thankfully just before the break the Saints extended the lead again taking advantage of a last tackle penalty for a shoulder charge. From the tap Jorge Lewtas should have put Kye Siyani under the black dot but from the play the ball a poor pass to Ryan Horne was expertly scooped up and on a mazy run back to the right the stand-off beat three on his way to the line.
The dressing room wasn’t a pleasant place to be at the break as the players were reminded of their jobs and game plan but within three tackles of the restart it had again gone out of the window as the handling again went amiss allowing the Thunder to again close to four points.
However, on their next set Welsby and Horne again got the Saints out of a hole. The full back returned the last tackle kick 40 metres and two tackles later Horne dummied his way through the line. He took it to the fullback where he should have set Sam Royle away to coast in. Instead he stepped inside and was lucky that the two covering players tackled each other to gift him a stroll to the posts.
Back came the hosts punishing a poor kick with a try on the overlap on the left before the Saints butchered the chance to put the game to bed.
Just after the hour 30 metres from his own line Horne put Chris Follin away down the left. The loose forward took it to the fullback but instead of putting Simm away he tried to go himself losing possession as a result.
Thankfully Chris Kellett saved his blushes extending the lead to three scores reaching over to score after good work from Jorge Lewtas.
The final 10 minutes saw the Saints handling combined with the home side’s superior kicking game pin the Saints in their own 10 metre area. Again it is testimony to the Saints defensive capabilities that they were only breached once.
As has been said this was a lacklustre display which exposed the frailties in some players games. However, the main frailty in virtually the whole team was that of a poor attitude which showed itself in poor ball security giving every encouragement to a competent Thunder side.
Captain for the day Callum Hazzard led from the front ably supported in patches by Jorge Lewtas and Jack Welsby. But sadly there was very little else.
Tries: Anthony Dyne (19), Jack Quinn (26), Alexander Clegg (45), Callum Kennedy (57 & 74).
Goals: Daniel Coates 3 from 5.
Tries: Tom Nisbett (2), Joe Sharratt (16), Josh Simm (22), Ryan Horne (35 & 49), Callum Hazzard (52), Chris Kellett (67).
Goals: Callum Hazzard 5 from 6, Josh Simm 1 from 1.
Half Time: 12-22
Full Time: 26-40
1. Jack Quinn; 2. Kieran Hudson, 3. Alexander Clegg, 4. Anthony Dyne, 5. Callum Kennedy; 6. Daniel Coates, 7. Cai Ellis; 8. Chris Paterson, 9. Oliver Gowling, 10. Rory Nettleton, 11. Jed Carlton, 15. Adam Bielby, 13. Thomas Wilcox.
Subs: 14. Ryan Jones, 16. Tyler Walton, 17. James McGurk, 18. Nathaniel Hitching.
1. Jack Welsby; 2. Tom Nisbett, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Josh Simm, 5. Sean Croston; 6. Ryan Horne, 18. Jake Wingfield; 8. Chris Kellett, 9. Brandon O’Neill, 10. Callum Hazzard (C), 11. Joe Sharratt, 12. Sam Royle, 13. Chris Follin.
Subs: 14. Paul Nash, 15. Ben Sims, 17. Jorge Lewtas, 19. Kye Siyani.
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