Writing this report is a bit like groundhog day for me so I apologise if you think you’ve heard what I’m about to say before. Because the truth is you probably have in one guise or another, writes Graham Henthorne for SaintsRLFC.com
The first half started brightly and with the players managing to respect possession they rolled downfield with comparative ease.
In the first few minutes Ryan Horne was held up over the line, the first of three during the half.
The forwards were running with conviction prompted by the continual probing of Josh Eaves winning penalty after penalty by running at the lazy marker.
On one such occasion the Saints opened the scoring as he brought Matty Lees back on the angle to finish under the sticks.
The strong running prop was held up over the line twice more before, against the run of play, the Bulls drew level with a soft try from a dart at the line from dummy half.
The Saints were doing better without the ball as well getting off the line and into the faces of the visitors forcing errors.
One such error on the Bulls 40 led to the Saints regaining the lead. Three drives at the heart of the defensive line allowed Horne and Brad Billsborough to spin the ball out left for Chris Follin to force his way over.
The same hard defence on the stroke of half time again gave the Saints fantastic field position which they again crafted into a try this time for Luke Ward who dove into the corner to score.
There was no hint of the issue to come as the Saints started the second period the brighter.
Drives from subs Evan Bullen and Jordan Olmez got the Saints on the front foot and when Billsborough dipped his left shoulder he shot through the line. He passed it out to Follin who took it on to the full back before giving it inside to his Captain to go under the sticks for a 16 point lead.
At this point it was all set for a 50 point haul but the wheels came off as the Bulls scored from a terrible last tackle kick and a flukey bounce and gained confidence.
Ward scored his second to stretch the lead but really the try should have gone to Sean Croston who made the break himself and should’ve dropped over the line himself.
Back came the Bulls who were growing in stature and ability visibly and really put the Saints hearts a fluttering as they scored their third try with 12 minutes to go.
The Saints managed to hang on until the last minute when Josh Eaves capped a typically intelligent and hardworking performance with a try darting away from dummy half.
The first half contained sparks of the old confidence returning with Weldon, Callum Hazzard, Sam Royle and Alex Eckley showing some of their old form.
But the second half, during which the Saints completed only four sets without receiving a penalty, was just not acceptable and a big improvement will need to happen.
Tries: Matty Lees (11), Chris Follin (29), Luke Ward (37 & 60), Mike Weldon (46), Josh Eaves (78).
Goals: Brad Billsborough 4 from 5.
Tries: Wilf Moxon (19), Ryan Butterworth (55), Josh Rickett (68).
Goals: Ryan Butterworth 3 from 3.
Half Time: 16-6
Full Time: 32-18
1. Kevin Brown; 2. Tom Nisbet, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Sean Croston, 5. Luke Ward; 6. Ryan Horne, 7. Brad Billsborough; 8. Matty Lees, 9. Josh Eaves, 16. Alex Eckley, 11. Chris Follin, 12. Mike Weldon (C), 13. Callum Hazzard.
Subs: 10. Jordan Olmez, 14. Paul Nash, 15. Sam Royle, 17. Evan Bullen.
1. Jay Panter; 2. Alix Stephenson, 4. Josh Rickett, 3. Lawrence Okaga-Ajwang, 5. Ryan Butterworth; 6. Rowan Milnes, 7. Jack Wilson; 8. Tom Doyle, 9. Reiss Butterworth, 10. Keelan Foster, 11. Wilf Moxon (C), 12. Elliott Culling, 13. Matthew Fletcher.
Subs: 14. Lochlan McGill, 15. Kieran Todd, 16. Bradley Gallagher, 17. Oliver Wilson.