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Swift’s two try effort encapsulates a Saints team growing in confidence
AWARENESS, footwork, pace and a determined ability to ride a tackle were the attributes flying wing Adam Swift again brought to the table as Saints finished the regular season with a flourish.
The 20-year-old former Blackbrook flankman’s two classy touchdowns took his tally to ten tries from just nine appearances this term with his presence of late giving Saints some real attacking potency out wide.
His contribution did not end there; Swift’s dazzling 60 metre zig-zagging run which saw him beat a clutch of Hull defenders would have been a candidate for try of the season had the cover not nailed him a couple of yards from the whitewash.
It did, however, lay the platform for Saints’ second try for Josh Jones.
There was a lot for the boisterous army of travelling fans to like about this performance, not least the two points that secured Saints a fifth-placed finish and a home draw in the knock-out stages.
Although elements of the opening quarter were a bit scratchy, with both sides guilty of errors, once Saints got the bit between their teeth there was only ever going to be one winner.
Saints took their chances well, although there was an element of good fortune with the opening score.
Jon Wilkin – the team’s steady eddie at scrum half – started and finished the move for the 26th minute try, with his dabbed kick through taking a fortuitous ricochet from a Hull defender allowing alert centre Francis Meli to pick it up off his bootstraps.
Like a good half back, Wilkin had carried on supporting up the middle and took a straightforward return ball to cross.
It appeared to settle Saints’ nerves and all of a sudden we saw some dashing, enterprising rugby, particularly from broken play.
After Swift had bamboozled the Hull defence, fit-again James Roby teed the ball up nicely for Jones – again operating in the back row – to power over.
Undeterred by being foiled in his dash to the line five minutes previously, the alert Swift came back for more and, after picking to ball up from an Hull error ten metres inside the Saints half, he dodged and weaved and threw his head back.
As soon as he saw an open field in front of him it was Goodnight Vienna, despite the desperate attempts of opposite number Jason Crookes.
It was real crowd pleasing stuff – nothing gets supporters on their feet better than a winger who can shift and swerve.
That confidence exuded by the young wingman fed in to the rest of the team, and even with the hooter sounding nobody was thinking about easing up.
Although Hull’s Danny Tickle had the ball on his own 40metre line, ex-Black and White Willie Manu could not resist a bit of pick-pocketing.
The on-song Tongan international back-rower, who of late has been showing just why Saints enticed him across the Pennines, seized the ball and motored over without a finger being laid upon him.
Jonny Lomax kicked three first half goals to give Saints a comfortable 22-0 lead at the break.
However, Saints did not make it easy for themselves and when the restart kick went out on the full Hull had first tilt at the Saints line and almost straight away it cracked with Richard Whiting crossing for a score converted by Danny Tickle.
But there were no panic stations, Saints kept their cool, and from a wondrous 40/20 kick from Player of the Year Jordan Turner they once again had the perfect attacking platform.
It is one they executed well with stand off Lance Hohaia floating a fine pass wide for Francis Meli to run on to and slide over.
Although Hull had a good period of pressure from penalties and drop outs, Saints held firm showing that they were prepared to put their shoulders to the wheel as well as simply do the good, flashy attacking stuff.
And turning defence into attack they countered magnificently, with a superb effort that even won applause from the most partisan of Hull fans.
Wilkin was again the instigator, kicking delicately for Lomax to run on to from deep.
The young full back gathered, raced ten metres before having the presence of mind, composure and skill to place a perfect kick wide for Swift to attack.
The young wingman did not disappoint, calmly collecting the ball, racing to the line and then subtly stepping inside to avoid being wrapped around the corner flag by the covering Crookes.
Although Hull’s second rower Tickle powered over from close range, and booted the goal himself from out wide, it was a mere consolation.
Saints had the last word when following a great break from Wilkin, Paul Wellens, playing effectively off the bench at loose forward, sent Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook through the hole for a try goaled by Turner.