St Helens Reserves accounted for England Universities 70-22 on Saturday in a game arranged as part of England’s preparations for the Student World Cup in Sydney in July writes David Butler.
Jacob Morgan failed to field the high bomb from Daniel Richardson and Liam Cooper regained possession to open the scoring. Richardson was successful with the conversion. Following the restart England winger Nathan Hill stopped a certain try from Saints’ Calvin Wellington with a ball-and-all tackle halting the centre’s charge.
Matthew Fleming, having come infield to find the ball, was next to score, scampering through the England line to claim a diving try in the corner, Richardson was again successful from the touchline, and shortly afterwards Ricky Bailey showed his Super League experience to cut through the middle of the red shirts, setting up another easy kick of Richardson.
England threatened the Saints line through Josh Halstead’s powering runs, with Matt Ross penetrating the line but being held up and carried dead to give the Saints a 20-metre restart. With the England defence at sea, Richardson combined with Cooper who bagged his second try. Richardson added the extras with ease before dancing through the line to touch down under the posts on the back of an England penalty at the restart, adding another simple kick to his tally.
The student side, who never let their heads drop, seemed to click up a gear and made their defence work to turn the Saints over on their own terms. And, on the back of a sustained period of pressure, Dom Bryan got England off the mark, jinking through just wide of the sticks, but Sam Druce narrowly missed the conversion.
England continued to pressure and Jake Reed was rewarded for his tenacity, leaping out of dummy-half and going through the gap to score in front of the posts, giving Druce a conversion he couldn’t miss.
Although playing with a lot more confidence the Students were caught napping out wide as Dave Eccleston made use of the overlap to score on the left flank; Richardson was again on target.
Mike Quickenden and Matt Ross both threatened the Saints’ line as England’s confidence grew further, but neither could break the solid wall of blue shirts.
England started strongly after the break, with Lewis Lord moving the Reds forward and Kieran Smith reaching out to find the line three minutes into the half, Druce added the extras to keep the Student side in touch.
Jack Owens nosed the Saints further ahead ten minutes into the half, shrugging defenders off as he powered under the sticks. Richardson added his lucky seventh conversion and added his eight moments later as Bailey streaked 80 metres downfield from the restart to claim his brace.
Richardson’s wide ball to Eccleston saw him dive in for his second try of the afternoon, whilst Richardson’ conversion bounced off the upright, marking his first miss of the day.
England, still refusing to give up, again built sustained pressure and were rewarded as Lewis Lord dummied from acting-half-back and burrowed through the blue defence to find the floor.
Druce added the extras and again the students had a spring in their step.
Owens broke free late in the tackle count to feed Jake Spedding with 10 minutes to go, with Richardson back on target. Richardson then found Eccleston out wide again – a carbon copy of their previous effort – with another successful conversion from Richardson.
Owens combined with Spedding to put Fleming away for a final try with Richardson converting.
England finished with a flurry, Zack McComb’s chancing kick to the in-goal running inches too long for Jacob Morgan to capitalise on.
St Helens Reserves: Frederick Bailey, Matthew Fleming, Jake Spedding, Calvin Wellington, David Eccleston, Jack Owens, Daniel Richardson, Gregory Richards, Aaron Smith, Brad Clavering, Liam Cooper, Will Jubb, Jonah Cunningham. Subs: Jordan Gibbons, Jake Butler-Fleming, Christian Kellett, George Milton, Ben Sims.
Tries: Cooper (2, 12), Fleming (5, 78), Bailey (8, 52), Richardson (15), Eccleston (35, 64, 78), Owens (50), Spedding (70)
Goals: Richardson 11/12
England Universities: Jacob Morgan, Elliot Hall, Zack McComb, Dan Harrison, Nathan Hill, Kieran Smith, Sam Druce, Aaron Hall, Jake Reed, Josh Halstead, Jack Lazenby, Marcus Stock, Matt Ross. Subs: Lewis Lord, Liam Wood, Lewis Taylor, Kieran Sherratt, Josh Hamilton, Mike Quickenden, Sam Swire, Dom Bryan, James Mason.
Tries: Bryan (27), Reed (30), Smith (43), Lord (65)
Goals: Druce 3/4