HAVING been given an unexpected chance to contest this year’s Academy Grand Final, Warrington Wolves could not make the most of it.

The RFL’s decision to chalk off their semi-final loss to Wigan Warriors, who were found to have used 12 interchanges as opposed to the eight allowed during last week’s game between the sides, put The Wire on the brink of a first academy competition win since 2012.

However, they ran into impressive opposition in the form of St Helens, who finished top of the regular season table and emerged as 22-6 victors in the final to secure the trophy.

Wingers Owen Dagnall and Ben Will touched down at either end of the first half, with second rower Harvey Braddish scoring twice after the interval for the hosts.

Adam Whalley’s late try meant they at least avoided being kept scoreless, but Danny Evans’ side are left to reflect on another promising year that has seen them come up just short of the established powerhouses of the youth game.

Owing to their upcoming post-season tour of Australia, the team never ceased training so were not as underprepared as people may have thought.

Was having only two days to get themselves into “match mode” a factor, however? Potentially, but many of the issues that hindered them against Wigan did so again at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

They had little problem getting into attacking positions, but their play with the ball was often hampered by errors.

The slippery conditions were not helpful, but composure deserted them when they needed it most.

Saints must take plenty of credit for suffocating them in defence – a trait that has become a feature of their first team’s current era of dominance – meaning Wire’s strengths – namely their electric speed in the outside backs – were negated.

Of course, trophies at this level of rugby league are of secondary importance – the goal is to ensure that in time, the most promising of these players are ready to make their mark in Super League when the time comes.

From a Warrington perspective, there is excitement aplenty about several members of this group – livewire full-back Cai Taylor-Wray, athletic centre Arron Lindop and durable hooker Ben Hartill among them – and they will hope this experience proves to be an enriching one in the long run.

In the short term, however, this result will no doubt sting as with any Grand Final defeat.