8 Sept 2018 @ Wetherby
Wetherby 24 - Morley 31
The second league game of the 2018 season, saw the Saxons making the trip up the A1M to take on Wetherby Crusaders at Grange Park on a wet and cool day.
The team announced on Thursday evening showed that in this weekend's game the Saxons would have strength and depth in numbers with a squad of 24 players.
Mark Kerruish elected to kick off to put pressure on the Wetherby forwards with a wet slippery ball.
Olly Hawkin kicked off for Morley, a high short ball which was chased down well by the Saxons pack, showing the intentions of taking the game up front to the Crusaders. Both teams were looking to run the ball hard with Wetherby looking to play a compact round the corner pick and go game and the Saxons looking good to mix it between forwards and the speedy youthful backs.
It was the crusaders whose defence was to crack first as some strong hard runs from Kerruish, James Phillips and Michael Jarrett drew in a number of players allowing the backs to link up together to create space for Ollie Hawkin to score under the sticks by running 40 meters having broken the tackle. He then converted his own try 0-7.
From the kick off again Phillips and Jarrett carried hard and combined with an excellent kick by Ed Sparks firmly rooted the Crusaders in their half. This allowed the Saxons to take a line out ten meters from the Crusader's line. A couple of plays later and Wetherby conceded a penalty 5 meters out. With the Saxons on top in the scrum Kerruish elected for a scrum. The Saxons began to push the Wetherby pack back over their line but a slip by the Crusaders prop adjudged to be foul play led to another penalty. Again Kerruish elected for a scrum. The referee warned that it had been two penalties in 2 minutes in the 5 for Wetherby. The Saxons secured the ball in the scrum and began to march the Crusaders pack backwards over their own try line allowing Jarrett to place the ball down for a try at the back of the scrum. Hawkin again converted 0-14.
Wetherby kicked off again and this time looked more fired up having lost 3 players to injuries. The Saxons failed to deal with the kick off effectively and Wetherby began to place pressure on the Saxon's pack, leading to a turn over. The Wetherby pack continued to draw in defenders using lots of pick and goes allowing the Wetherby backs to create a number of mismatches throughout the defensive line and scoring a well worked try in the corner. 5-14.
Morley kicked off the Wetherby, again Wetherby looked to move the ball up the field with four or five forwards plays then release the backs. This allowed Wetherby to move slowly but steadily up the field. A pattern that would see them once again find a miss match 10 meters out and allowing Wetherby to score their second. 10-14.
With the game now camped solidly in the Saxons half, a turn over by Ed Sparks and George Huzcavitch allowed Will Howarth to clear the lines, with a strong following chase O. Hawkin and Ethan Ellis put the full back under pressure leading to a penalty. Another well timed line out saw the Saxon's pack roll round the corner from ruck to ruck with Jarrett and Phillips coming close. Finally Kerruish eventually crossed the whitewash. Ollie Hawkin scores the conversion. 10-21
Half time Saxons 21 - Wetherby 10
The Saxons came out for the second half with a number of fresh legs and words ringing in their ears about complacency in the second half.
The Saxons took this on board and from the kick off began the second half how they had started the first with strong hard runs in the forwards and fast flowing play in the backs. It was in this period that again another kick by Howarth opened the field up for Braden Hunter on debut to recover the ball and score his first try for the club. Conversion missed. 10-26.
The game then descended into stalemate with forwards not gaining ground and backs not been able to create spaces with their runs. A number of adjudged high tackles by Phillips saw the Saxons having to defend their lines regularly. Through the pressure Wetherby were able to cross the whitewash again. This time converting. 17-26.
Morley kicked off and placed the catcher under pressure and managed to gain the ball which was was played through hands to the near touch line before a quick switch saw Howarth chip the ball across field. Hunter retrieved the ball and drew the defender to put Will Breheney into space to score in the corner. Conversion missed. 17-31.
With 10 minutes to go it appeared that the Saxons has the game in the bag but continued pressure by Wetherby and a number of decisions against them saw Wetherby marching up the field. After 5/6 minutes of being camped on the Morley line the Crusaders found a way over and converted. 24-31.
With 2 minutes remaining the game was now up for grabs. In true Saxons style the lads seemed to be doing everything wrong in the referee's eyes with high tackles and talking back. With Wetherby once again moving down the field at speed a fortunate knock on by Wetherby bought the game to an end.
Final score Saxons 31 - Wetherby 24
Man of the Match - Noah Hawkins a solid performance from the scrum half in both attack and defence.
Dick of the day - Noah Hawkins as the coach was deciding on the nominees Hawkins allowed his opposite number to round him on his side of the scrum without tackling him. Doesn’t sound too bad till you hear that the opposition scrum half was actually an injured second rower trying to fill in!
Final thoughts - this was a good physical test for the Saxons with some strong physical teams to play in the coming weeks. The Saxons have not recorded a victory at Wetherby for a number of seasons now and this can only boost the lads confidence further. However the team will need to work on the penalty count as this cost the boys field position and momentum. But a good day at the office and another maximum points win.
Updated 20:06 - 10 Sep 2018 by Dennis Elam