Salford 4 London 12 Match Report – David Clegg
Storm Doris may have blown through forty-eight hours prior to the kick-off of this U16s fixture against the visiting London Broncos, but the effects of it on the playing surface not only remained, they were exacerbated by yet another day of the most wet and windy conditions, which made the playing of open, attacking rugby virtually impossible. Indeed, it was only because they were on a completely sodden, 4G pitch, that the game was played at all.
Every match, at this level, however, is a notable learning curve, as the youngsters are encountering a variety of circumstances for the very first time, and whilst the U16s season always comes at this time of year, the players’ experiences have all been in much more clement conditions, so, on this occasion it was always going to be down to which of the teams adapted the better.
This, unfortunately, proved to be the visitors, whose half backs took control, and ensured they respected possession, whereas the Red Devils tried, unsuccessfully, to play far more expansively, and in so doing, squandered possession on a great many occasions.
A London try, ten minutes into the game, opened the scoring, but a try from fullback, Finlay Swift, to the left of the posts, brought the home side level, just before half time. The strength of the wind, and the saturated pitch, however, conspired to prevent Elliot Farrelly from putting his side ahead with his conversion attempt, and the score remained 4-4, to half time.
Having played into the wind for the first half, hopes that with it behind them for the second thirty-five minute period, Salford would be able to build on their parity, and take charge, foundered, when, in one of those remarkable meteorological quirks, it swung round, and by the end of the end of the game was once again favouring the Broncos.
The second period, therefore, was a replication of the first, and although the Red Devils defended manfully for long periods at a time, they continued to lose possession far too easily, and London responded with two further unconverted, late tries to see them home.
For coach, Danny Barton, although the result was a disappointment, as indeed was his team’s attacking tactics, he was extremely proud of their efforts in defence, which held their opponents out for such long periods. He was particularly impressed with try scorer Finlay Swift’s overall contribution, along with that of loose forward, Billy England.
“That was the best London team I have seen in my time of being involved,” Danny acknowledges, “and whilst it was disappointing the basic errors we made, you have to hand it to the lads the way they tackled so magnificently for the whole of the game.
“London made errors, themselves, but not at the rate that we made them. Their half backs made the simple plays which we should have done, whereas we just made unforced, simple errors.”
Danny is very much aware of the importance of correcting this as their coming visit to Widnes, next Saturday, could see a repetition of this match.
“We will be playing on the same type of pitch, and possibly in similar conditions to these,” he warns, “so it is important that the lads learn from this game. We’ll be looking at this during training this week, and insisting that they do not play as expansively in that kind of weather.
“They do like to throw the ball around, and in the right circumstances I have no issue with that, but in conditions like those it is not appropriate. London adapted their play much better than we did, which meant we had to make something like double the amount of tackles they had to make.
“In fact to concede only twelve points, in those circumstances, was a great credit to our lads.”
Taking that solidity in defrence with them, along with the experience they gained from last weekend, to the Halton Stadium, should, therefore, stand them in very good stead for their encounter with Super League opponents.
Finlay Swift, Jordan Burns, Dane Wakefield, Elliot Farrelly, Matt Jones, Owen Hayes, Thomas Woodward, Harry Ratcliffe, Josh Grundy, Ben Bamber, Cameron Baker, Harry Martin, Billy England, Joe Lawler, Ben Rowland, Jonathan Thomas, Jordan Hilton, Jamie Oates