Anselmians 27 Sefton 14.
Back to winning ways.
Anselmians welcomed Sefton to Malone Field last Saturday unsure of their ability to recover from the defeat at Liverpool Saint Helens. Their confidence had been affected by their indifferent performance at Moss Lane, and, traditionally, Sefton were doughty opponents. On a more positive note, full-back Iain Taylor returned to restore consistency to the goal kicking.
Saints started brightly enough. Going through the phases, the home side attacked with effective linkage between forwards and backs in which Mario Quitadamo and Jon Clarke and Charlie Hough and Sam Russell were prominent. Hough was pulled down on the line but was adjudged in touch.
It was close enough for a few Anselmians to suggest VAR technology should be used.
It appeared that Saints were back to their best but, against the run of play, Sefton scored a good try. Fly-half Andy Cummings’ clearance kick was charged down and, with a three to one overlap, Sefton cleverly fed winger Harry Bailey who ran in closer to the posts to allow full-back, John Fenton, an easier conversion. A confident kick meant Sefton led 7-0 after fourteen minutes.
Sefton now began to get the better of the exchanges. Waves of Anselmian assaults were met with admirably solid defence and a few spectators speculated that this half, like last week’s first half, may leave Saints pointless. However, there were glimpses of Saints’ potential and it was skipper Nick HEARN who was in the vanguard. A long pass from Russell released Hough and, from a subsequent penalty, scrum half Liam Sadler tapped and went to the blind side. A speedy Hearn sliced through the Sefton cover to score in the corner. Taylor’s difficult kick was short, but Anselmians were on the board at 5-7 after half an hour.
Sefton’s answer was swift. Some good forward work and powerful running in the centres created enough space for Harry Hales to score and, with a simple conversion from Fenton, Sefton approached half-time leading 14-5. Anselmians refused to buckle and, in what was a precursor to the second half, a forward drive produced a penalty in front which Taylor gratefully converted. Anselmians had not been at their best, but they were in the contest at 8-14.
After the break, Saints appeared more determined. Skipper Hearn was appearing in the three-quarters as well doing the unglamorous forward graft. A chance created by Kellum FRIDAY for Russell was spoilt by the forward’s poor pass and Anselmians’ lineout, poor in the first half, did not improve.
A high tackle on Russell drew sharp intakes of breath from the home support but the young, yellow- shirted referee, couldn’t find his yellow card. Slowly, however, the Saints pack were winning the forward battle. A series of forward drives demoralised the Sefton eight and, with a consequent increase in ball, Sadler drove Sefton deep into their territory. Another scrum and a smart pick-up by Hearn meant the skipper scored his second try and, with Taylor adding the extras, Anselmians led for the first time 15-14.
An injury to the most influential Sefton forward was the only interruption to Saints progress. As Sefton tired, the home forwards began to dominate and it was fitting that Mario Quitadamo, having his best game for a while, crashed over for a rare try. Taylor’s difficult kick was missed but, on the hour, and at 20-14 up, it was Anselmians who were the likely victors. A return to basic forward play had wrested the initiative from a plucky Sefton side and when, after a positional change which saw winger Harry Southern go to scrum-half putting Sadler in the centre, a powerful Charlie Hough made twenty yards carrying three Sefton players on his back, the writing was on the wall.
As Sefton faded, Southern, unable to pick up a wayward pass, kicked into the Saints centre and Hough set off on a powerful surge, ending with Hearn scoring his hat-trick and Anselmians scoring a bonus point. Taylor converted and, with ten minutes remaining, Saints were secure at 27-14.
This was an important victory for Saints. They needed to restore belief and they did it in some style. To go from 5-14 to 27 -14 against the conquerors of Broughton Park is no mean achievement. To take a maximum of ten points against Sefton in two games is admirable and, in the context of the push for promotion, the form of Man of the Match Nick HEARN and his improving forwards his encouraging. There will be harder battles, but Saints initially survived and ultimately triumphed over one of their more stubborn rivals.