RUGBY PICTURES: Saints Colts take on Kenilworth

Akhil Panchal stays strong as Kenilworth challenge
Akhil Panchal stays strong as Kenilworth challenge

Learning experience this season as young squad develop skills and tactics

Pictures by Mike Baker

Michael Vaughan heads for the line

Michael Vaughan heads for the line

Saints Colts 12 Kenilworth Colts 39

With no first team game Saints Colts took centre stage at John Tomalin Way. This season is very much a learning experience for a young team, both in terms of skills and tactics.

At their fluent best they can be a match for most teams but, all too frequently, they find themselves dragged into an unwinnable arm wrestle against bigger and stronger opponents.

Saturday’s loss to Kenilworth was a typical example. The visitors had half a dozen powerful and robust forwards who took full advantage of the physical disparity to dominate the set scrums and win turnover ball in the tackle.

James Irwin almost escaping a Kenilworth tackle

James Irwin almost escaping a Kenilworth tackle

Saints tackled heroically but were constantly struggling for front foot possession. However they took their limited chances well in the first half and were unlucky to be trailing 15- 12 at the break, having been denied what seemed like a certain penalty try.

Saints began to play with more aggression and some strong carrying frequently broke through K’s first line of defence but an insistence on taking the ball into contact instead of moving it away simplified the defender’s task.

Failure to make good use of the strong breeze was a tactical error. The visitors had already looked very vulnerable to kicks behind the rush defence and Saints had capitalised on this for their second score.

They were then presented with an even better opportunity to ease the pressure on the forwards by making the opposition retreat and attack from long range, but failed to take it.

Max Carlton with Dylan Threlfall behind

Max Carlton with Dylan Threlfall behind

Further attacks by Kenilworth put their huge prop over for his second score and, straight from the restart their centre ran through for a brilliant solo try. Saints threw everything into attack but

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were caught out by tries on the counter. Despite this they were still hammering away at the opposition line when the final whistle was blown.

Whilst the loss was disappointing the youngsters deserve great credit for their commitment over 80 minutes, particularly in defence. There were flashes of the fluid offloading game of which they are capable and need to develop further.

Tom Jones

Tom Jones

The situation was not helped by enforced changes to the team which had played so well against Rugby. Thanks go out to those who took on unaccustomed roles to help the team. Next up is a trip to Brooadstreet.

Saints seconds returned to winning ways with a hard fought 15-0 victory over Pinley in a scrappy game.

Rugby St Andrews 1st XI are now the only local club remaining in the RFU cup competitions as Bedford Queens disappointingly opted to concede Saturday’s third round tie.

They will now be competing for a Midland’s semi final place in the Senior Vase later this month. All of the quarter finalists are pushing for promotion in their respective leagues so there will be no easy games at this stage of the competition.

This week they face their sternest challenge to date with a trip to second placed Woodrush. The North Midlands side are clearly much improved over last year but have just lost their unbeaten record to league leaders Dunlop in a low scoring match.

They will be anxious to relaunch their promotion campaign. Saints can expect another tough forward battle with the big, well-drilled home pack and their pick and drive tactics. The practice that had against Old Wheats will serve them well.

Dylan Threlfall

Dylan Threlfall

Lyle Sargent gets away

Lyle Sargent gets away

Brannon Aitchison in last Saturday's game with Kenilworth

Brannon Aitchison in last Saturday's game with Kenilworth