Saints v Leeds Rhinos
The saying goes: “A good big ‘un will always beat good little ‘un”.
Well don’t you believe it! The Saints put the lie to that statement with a fantastic 26-24 victory against a massive Rhinos outfit almost resembling the Bulls of the early Super League era, writes Graham Henthorne.
The game was played with the usual Brook wind blowing into the Saints faces in the first half and it had a hand in the first try of the game; Jack Welsby’s last tackle bomb giving Josh Simm the chance to outjump the full back to touch down.
On the quarter hour the Saints increased their lead. A rare penalty saw Welsby’s boot get the Saints within 20 and three tackles later, a fine right foot step from Jorge Lewtas put the prop through the line and he took three defenders over.
From the restart the Rhinos’ juggernaut pack began to take its toll and coupled with the wind the Saints found themselves defending for most of the rest of the half.
The visitors got on the board after 20 minutes as they took advantage of Elliott Jenkins missed tackle to score in the left corner.
Despite heroic work in defence a mistake with the ball gave the Rhinos good field position and they took the lead as their substitute prop barged over under the posts.
The lowering grey clouds were as ominous as the waves of Leeds attacks coming at the Saints but they managed to hold out going in to the break only two points in arrears.
The wind had got up over the half time period so the Saints were rightly optimistic of emulating the visitors and spending a significant period of time in their half of the pitch.
However, four minutes in and the visitors showed the Saints how to use that wind to your favour even when it’s in your face as they chipped the defensive line twice on the last tackle and with a mixture of luck and good management, regained possession to score twice on the opening two sets of the half.
Finding themselves 14 points down and being slowly pummelled down the middle it would have been easy for the Saints to give up but they decided to take the other route and took the game to the Rhinos instead.
Repeated kicking to the bottom corner turned the Rhinos big pack around and some ferocious hitting forced error after error which the Saints took full advantage of.
One such hit forced an error on the second tackle on the Rhinos 20 and from the resultant scrum, Simm scored his second taking a great short ball from Welsby after Brandon O’Neill had gone close.
Simm couldn’t convert but the Saints got closer still five minutes later.
A scrum on half way put the Saints on the front foot and five tackles later they were camped on the Rhinos line. On the last the ball worked its way left to Welsby who was forced to run it beating three with a great dummy and strolling over. Callum Hazzard, back on the field after a well-earned rest, converted and the Saints were within a try.
The visitors’ pack was now starting to labour on the heavy ground and they were finding it increasingly difficult to contain the more nimble Saints forwards.
The tide had certainly turned and with ten minutes to go the Saints regained the lead. A wonderfully judged last tackle grubber from Jake Wingfield got a repeat set and three tackles later Matty Foster ran a superb angle back onto Welsby’s pass to go over for the Saints fifth try.
Hazzard kept his nerve in the difficult conditions and converted to put the Saints ahead.
Until this point the Saints had been 100% in possession but, just when it mattered the most, one or two handling errors started to creep in. Coupled with a few penalties this meant that the Saints spent the last eight minutes virtually camped in their own 20 metre zone.
But crucially they showed the utmost resilience and didn’t crumble. This was typified by the try saving tackle under the sticks from Chris Follin, Wingfield and Captain Alex Eckley to, somehow, hold up yet another of the massive Rhino props over the line.
All 16 of the players (it was one of those games where the players that have been on, stay on, and unfortunately there just wasn’t a space to get Kye Siyani on) deserve the biggest pat on the back that they can get. They sat in the changing room at the end almost in a daze of exhaustion, battered and bruised but most importantly victorious.
This is the type of performance that gives great confidence to the group for the future as they all now know that when the going gets tough the bloke inside of them is willing to give his all for his mate.
It’s difficult to pick anyone out in such a team performance but Chris Follin again showed his versatility putting in another 80 minute stint starting down the middle and finishing in the centre. Captain Eckley, Jake Wingfield, Sam Royle and Cal Hazzard ruled the middle with Josh Simm and John Hutchings again making massive metres down the left.
But the difference was down to that touch of class displayed often on the last tackle from Jack Welsby.
Tries: Josh Simm (3 & 48), Jorge Lewtas (15), Jack Welsby (53), Matty Foster (69).
Goals: Callum Hazzard 3 from 4, Josh Simm 0 from 1 .
Leeds Rhinos U19s:
Tries: Harry Newman (19 & 41), Tyler Dupree (27), Liam Hamill (43).
Goals: Harvey Spence 4 from 4.
Half Time: 10-12
Full Time: 26-24
1. Tom Nisbett; 2. Luke Ward, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Josh Simm, 5. John Hutchings; 6. Jack Welsby, 7. Elliott Jenkins; 8. Alex Eckley (C), 9. Jake Wingfield, 10. Callum Hazzard, 11. Matty Foster, 12. Sam Royle, 13. Chris Follin.
Subs: 14. Brandon O’Neill, 15. Joe Sharratt, 16. Kye Siyani, 17. Jorge Lewtas.
1. Liam Whitton; 2. Ben Markland, 3. Kiedan Hartley, 4. Harry Newman, 5. Liam Hamill; 6. Corey Johnson, 7. Harvey Spence; 8. Sam Moorhouse, 9. Harvey Whiteley (C), 10. Spencer Darley, 11. James Barraclough, 12. Owen Trout, 13. Loui McConnell.
Subs: 14. Jordan Russell, 15. Harry Georgiou, 16. Tyler Dupree, 17. Thomas Holroyd.
There is currently no news associated with this match. Check back soon.