Season of great progress by Saints
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Rugby St Andrews Colts 10
Broadstreet Colts 27
The progress made by Saints’ youngsters during this season is remarkable.
They are to all intents and purposes an under 17 side that was rebuilt at the start of the season after a number of key players moved to other local clubs.
Although they have trained hard they had to wait until March for their first win, overturning two earlier 40-point defeats to notch a 20 -10 victory over Leamington, a great reward for their resilience and wholehearted commitment.
Saturday’s game against visiting Broadstreet presented a much greater challenge. The Coventry side arrived with a big squad of mainly under 18 players and it was the strength and depth of their bench that ultimately swung the game in their favour.
Saints made good use of the strong downfield win and enjoyed a territorial advantage for much of the first half.
Their forwards were conceding weight and experience but their technique and fiery commitment at the breakdown consistently troubled the visitors, even though they did struggle at the set pieces.
Both sides impressed with their defence with hard, fair tackles coming in from both backs and forwards.
Significantly there was not a single penalty awarded for dangerous tackling under the new strict regulations. Congratulations are due to both sets of coaches and players.
Saints opened the scoring after 15 minutes with a well work try from a line out drive from 15 metres.
The initial surge was halted close to the line but Ran Scott picked his moment to peel off and power through a couple of defenders for the try.
They looked to have repeated the feat shortly afterwards but were deemed to have been held up over the line and further scores eluded them before the break.
Broadstreet struck quickly after the restart with a try from lineout drive and added a second from an interception.
The conversion took them into a 12- 5 lead and they continued to pile on pressure as they pinned Saints in their own 22.
The home team countered whenever possible but the line speed of the Street’s backs was forcing errors and providing new attacking opportunities.
Despite this, Saints held out until the final quarter, by which time the visitors had emptied their bench to introduce half a dozen players against a visibly tiring defence.
Their impact was immediate with three tries in quick succession but, typical of the spirit of this Saints’ team they had the last word.
Latching onto a handling error they broke from midfield and Matt Teasdale outstripped the cover for a try.
The conversion failed and the whistle blew to end a good quality sporting game of rugby played in excellent spirit by both teams.
These more demanding games are an important part of the development process in preparation for U18 league rugby next season.
As Saints and their next opponents, Rugby Lions, have found, the transition from under 16 to colts rugby is tough as the players are confronted with new physical and technical challenges.
Saints are currently finalising a comprehensive development programme involving the current under 16 squad and the current colts which will ensure a smoother transition from the junior ranks and greater training and appropriate playing opportunities for all players.