A DRAMATIC last minute last play try from Widnesian Mark Percival won this final match of the triple-header against the previously unbeaten Vikings in typical never say die Saints fashion, writes Graham Henthorne.Saints winning 28-26.The Saints had opened the scoring with a fine try from James Hill in the right corner, the winger crossing courtesy of a good ball from Percival.The Saints extended the lead soon after. A great defensive set forced the Vikings to turn over possession closer to their own line than they would have hoped and the Saints made them pay. James Tilley profiting from Danny Yates’ great short ball.Widnes opened their account soon after capitalising on a Saints error but the Saints came storming back.A Saints scrum from the restart saw good work by Alex Clare and Lewis Foster scoring from Yates’ inside ball. Adam Barber’s second goal put the Saints 12 in front.A lapse in concentration in defence let the visitors in for their second try but Percival’s first put the Saints in control again at the break. Connor Dwyer’s break saw the Saints on the attack and as the ball was moved across the field Percival had an easy run in from 25 out.The second half was a different story; however, as two tries, the first after an error on the restart, saw the visitors take the lead.The tide was stemmed slightly as Barber scored to give the Saints a slender two point lead. But the Saints couldn’t hold on and the Vikings regained the lead, the full back going over for the try.With the minutes ticking down and the home crowd getting increasingly desperate up popped Percival to snatch the points.In truth, the Academy were very lucky. In a performance reminiscent of the defeat away to Hull KR, the Saints should have been out of sight in the first half but were almost made to pay for their profligacy by their opposition. It’s not that they can’t do it. Far from it. The problem seems to be that they can’t do it consistently enough.Match Summary:Saints:Tries: James Hill, Mark Percival 2, Adam Barber, Lewis Foster, James TilleyGoals: Adam Barber 2Widnes:Tries: Jack Owens, Alex Brown, Nathan Fernyhough 2, Harry Naughton.Goals: Danny Price 3.Half Time: 20-10Full Time: 28-26Teams:Saints:1. Corey Lee, 2. James Hill, 3. Mark Percival, 4. Adam Barber, 5. Leon Tatlock, 6. Dom Speakman, 7. Danny Yates, 8. Brad Ashurst, 9. Lewis Foster, 10. Jordan Hand, 11. Alex Clare, 12. Connor Dwyer, 13. James Tilley. Subs: 14. Jack Jones, 15. Chris Webster, 16. Jordan Case (pictured), 17. Adam Hesketh.Widnes:1. Jack Owens, 2. Alex Brown, 3. Nathan Fernyhough, 4. Andy Wainwright, 5. Kieron Butterworth, 6. Chris Atkin, 7. Danny Price, 8. Brad Davis, 9. Richie Hughes, 10. Lewis Whitty, 11. Jon Rigby, 12. Scott McCann, 13. Matty Norton.Subs: 14. Ste Ball, 15. Alex Tague, 16. Jack Buck, 17. Harry Naughton.
SAINTS have extended the contracts of six of the hottest properties in the game – and signed Matty Dawson from Huddersfield Giants.Luke Thompson, Lewis Charnock, Greg Richards and Andre Savelio have all signed two-year contracts whilst James Tilley and Connor Dwyer have both put pen to paper on new one-year deals at the Club.These players are products of the Saints Academy system and all but one – Connor Dwyer – have been on the Club’s successful Tours to Australia.Four – Luke, Lewis, Greg and James – have also made their first team debuts this season.Saints Head Coach Nathan Brown said: “These are talented young kids who have come through the local system. They all play different positions and have different attributes but are good players who, if they weren’t at Saints, would be snapped up by other clubs.“Lewis, Luke, Greg and James have had a taste of first team action already and have done well, whilst Andre is training with the first team squad. Connor will follow soon.“They now have a long hard road ahead of them and they will need to work hard and make sacrifices. If they do that and have luck, they should develop into good players with long term futures at the Saints.”Luke Thompson is a fast strong prop / back row forward. He has been with the club since he was 11 and signed from Bold Miners having previously played for Pilkington Recs.The 18-year-old represented England on their Academy Tour of Australia and has played seven games for the Club after making his debut at London Broncos.19-year-old Lewis ‘Duggy’ Charnock is a stand-off who also played full back and loose forward at junior level. He toured Australia with the Saints in 2011 and won the Coaches’ Award for the trip due to his outstanding efforts, versatility, enthusiasm and leadership.He made his first team debut in the snow against Salford this season.Cumbrian Greg Richards won Forward of the Year on Saints Academy’s unbeaten tour of Australia in 2011. Hailing from Barrow, he is an out and out prop with a big engine and played for England Under 18s at the age of 16.He made his debut against Castleford earlier in July.Andre Savelio is 18 and a back row forward. He joined Saints from Latchford Albion and has been with the club since he was 14. He’s played for England’s Under 16s and 18s – the latter at the age of 16. He’s got good hands, is powerful and has a keen eye for a gap.James Tilley, 19, is a back rower who can also play at prop. He signed from Portico Vine and was St Helens Academy’s (u18s) captain last year and also on the Tour to Australia in 2011.Like Greg, he made his first team debut against Castleford in April 2013.Connor Dwyer is a 19-year-old second row / loose forward who has excelled in Saints Academy this season. He has played in 26 games totalling 16 tries. He signed from Portico, where we was coached by his dad Saints legend Bernard Dwyer, and was a teammate of James Tilley.Saints are please to also announce the signing of Matty Dawson.He is 22 and joins us from Huddersfield Giants where he has made five appearances to date.He is a winger / centre who signed for then coach Nathan Brown from Castleford ahead of the 2010 season.“We’re pleased to have Matty on board,” Nathan added. “He’s quick, talented and keen to learn. He has shown a lot of promise at the Giants and now, like our other younger signings, he needs to get his head down and keep on working.”Matty has signed a two-year contract.You can sign your contract with the Saints for 2014 by buying a Season Ticket.They offer great value and guarantee your spot for the season ahead.For further information click here.
ST.HELENS Chairman Eamonn McManus has urged Saints’ fans to get to Old Trafford on Saturday to get behind the team.Eamonn stated: “The fans have been incredible for us all season and have been instrumental in us winning the league in spite of our serious injury toll.“The team will be going to Old Trafford with absolute conviction and confidence despite being roundly written off as massive underdogs – and in some quarters to a degree that is quite disrespectful.“We have everything to play for and the players will be doing giving everything for our fans, our Club and our town.“Every Saints’ fan should get to Old Trafford and get fully behind the team and our coach Nathan Brown, on his last game for the Club. It’s going to be a titanic clash not to be missed. Let’s enjoy it together and with confidence.”Tickets remain on sale from the Club and via 01744 455 052. Full details are available here.
SCRUM half may not be his natural role, but Mark Flanagan has taken to it like a duck to water.The 26-year-old has switched from his more accustomed back row spot to be a pivot of Saints’ attack alongside Jordan Turner and Lance Hohaia.“Obviously I would like to play my natural role but at times like this you have to step up and do what is for the best,” he said. “I think Jordan Turner and myself have done a decent job and if we were to get the job done on Saturday then we would be the happiest people around.“Along with Lance Hohaia, we shoulder the playmaking roles, take responsibility and organise the team. I am an extra voice helping out on the field. My game stays the same too but I am also running, passing and organising.“I pride myself on my defence and I suppose if you are noted for that then you aren’t going far wrong. Things have changed a little now; I’m not a conventional scrum half but I am doing what I can for the team.”Saints have changed the way they play over recent weeks with their loss to Hull FC a real turning point in their season.“It was a tough outing but we dusted ourselves off and got to this point,” Mark continued. “Throughout the course of the season we have been consistent and you can’t finish top unless you have that.“Derbies are great occasions and to have them at Old Trafford, in a Grand Final, will be special for the people in the region. It will be a good game and there isn’t a lot between us. Whoever comes with the right pair of boots and does the business will win it.“They are a big tough side and if you stand back and watch them they will do the business. You have to get stuck into them and then, as in all ‘finals’ rugby, take your opportunities.”Tickets for the Grand Final remain on sale from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park and by calling 01744 455 052.