Salford Red Devis 18 Dewsbury Rams 8 Match Report
In their very first season in the game, Salford’s women’s side defied all the odds by reaching the final of the League Cup, by defeating Dewsbury Rams, in the semi-final at Salford Roosters ground, yesterday.
Hopes had always been high that this might prove to be the case, particularly with home advantage and the knowledge that they had already beaten the visitors in an earlier league encounter, when a number of senior Salford players had been missing. It still proved, however, as with most semi-finals, to be an extremely tightly fought game, with long spells when the two teams were locked in arm wrestles with each other.
It was, in fact, the visitors, who opened the scoring, crossing out wide for an unconverted try, but the Red Devils were quick to counter with a try, converted by Demi Jones. Those Taz Corcoran diagonal scoots are becoming most adept in throwing opposition defences into some confusion as each one attracts the attention of the defenders before a neat pass is given, this time to Steph Gray, who glided through to score, putting the home team into a lead which they never lost thereafter.
Five minutes later, a break by fullback, Luci McKeown was well supported by Alex Simpson, also playing in the centre, for her to go over towards the left corner, giving Jones the hardest by far of her kicks, which she did with impeccable accuracy, to ring up a 12-4 lead.
That they were unable to build further on this, during the remainder of the half, was testament to the determination of their visitors, coupled with some little misfortune – Lorraine Ellison had a try ruled out for a forward pass, and McKeown was tackled into touch just short of the try line, after a fine break on fielding an end of set kick – and extremely wearing conditions in the heat with water breaks midway through each half, and a bone hard pitch which sent up clouds of dust, on impact.
It was greatly in contrast to this, therefore, that they opened the second half with a try direct from the restart. Player of the Match, Louise Fellingham, who as captain had led her team by example yet with support and encouragement throughout the game, received the ball from the kick and then, from a sideways run, layed it off to McKeown, who raced through to score between the posts. After having landed one from close to the touchline. Jones had no difficulty in keeping her hundred percent success rate with the boot to take the score to 18-6.
Although this concluded Salford’s scoring for the afternoon, the two sides continued to battle it out in an arm-wrestle, and indeed the Red Devils were made to fight every minute of the way to retain their hold on the game.
Being put under considerable pressure, when in possession, they were forced into an above average number of handling errors, which promptly brought even more defensive work, while the intense heat was most energy sapping. Nevertheless, their defence on so many occasions proved equal to the challenge, succumbing only in the final minute of play to the Rams’ late consolation try.
Nothing, however, could dent the euphoria with which the team greeted the final whistle, and it would be nigh on impossible to overstate their outstanding achievement of progressing into the final, on 31st July. For a group of individuals to come together, many of them as strangers to one another, and then to be successful in such a high-pressured situation as a cup semi-final, is most remarkable.
Their opponents in the final will be the winners of the other semi-final between Hull KR and Orrel St James. That is for later, however. For now, let us all just enjoy their wonderful achievement, and celebrate this, their most recent success.
Luci McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Steph Gray, Alex Simpson, Katie Garry, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Abi Collins, Tamzin Corcoran, Darcey Price, Viki, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Megan Condliffe
Hannah Wicks, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Brogan Evans, Casey Naylor, Jenna Monks, Eponine Fletcher, Helena Walker
Sean Monks, Omaga Photography, for above photograph
Media Consultant – Gabby Chaplin