time the DW hosted an Academy Grand Final in 2009 the likes
of Josh Charnley, Iain Thornley, Stefan Marsh, Lee Mossop,
Joe Mellor, Jonny Lomax, Lee Gaskell and Jamie Ellis all
graced the field.
knows what stars of the future were on show in this Under
19s Grand Final between the two sides who had finished
clear first and second in the regular season table.
it was a battle between the old enemies from either side of
the Billinge lump, you might have expected this to be a
bruising battle but it was actually a very slowed paced
final that never really set alight. Tight defence kept
clean breaks at a premium and it was penalties that proved
crucial towards scores, in the first half at least.
It was on
the back of receiving the first penalty of the game in the
fourth minute that Kyle Shelford jinked over near the posts
to give Wigan an early 6-0 lead after Nick Gregson
began to hit back with Wigan helping them out of their own
quarter with penalties on three separate occasions. This
allowed them to build pressure and although Rob Fairclough
was held up over the line in the 17th Minute,
they found a try four minutes later with the Saints half
backs combining to send Ben Morris through a gap in the
Wigan defence. Danny Richardson converted to level the
scores at 6-6.
from the kick off, Saints were threatening again. Morgan
Knowles made a huge bust up the middle that led to them
threatening another score out wide on the right, but Jake
Spedding knocked on at a crucial moment.
take that opportunity proved a costly miss for Saints
because it was a long time before they looked like scoring
again. Wigan changed hookers with Josh Ganson, son of ex
referee Steve, coming on from the interchange and that
helped steady Wigan back into positive rhythm.
retake the lead before half time and penalties again proved
costly with two in a row being converted into a close range
try for prop Paddy Jones. Gregson converted to complete
the first half scoring at 12-6.
second half it was not a penalty this time but an error by
Saints on half way that saw Wigan punish. A great offload
by Tom Davies saw Macauley Davies score but Gregson missed
the extras this time. 16-6.
to turn the screw and eventually added to their lead in the
57th Minute. On what was a fourth consecutive
set of possession, Macauley Davies went from try scorer to
provider with his pass getting Full Back Gabriel Fell over.
The extras from Gregson now had Wigan leading 22-6.
quarter of the game remained but Wigan had been well
disciplined second half and Saints were finding it hard to
make territory. They found hope though after surviving a
great run by Liam Marshall that threatened to finish them
from Jack Wells gave Saints a scrum inside the Wigan 20 and
they converted that into a try by Dave Eccleston. The
conversion missed but with seven minutes still remaining
they had a glimmer of hope at 22-10.
In the end
though, that try came far too late for Saints. Wigan saw
out the time well to complete a victory that sealed a
seventh academy title in the last eight seasons for them.
downside to the occasion was that strangely no medals were
handed out to the players during the presentation ceremony.
You’d hope that will get rectified in retrospect.