Wigan & Leigh College 10 Salford Red Devils College 72 Match Report – David Clegg
Salford U19s College Academy celebrated the New Year return to action, yesterday afternoon, with by far their most impressive performance of the season so far, with a seventy point romp over an unfortunate Wigan & Leigh side in this second round tie of the AoC Sport National Rugby League Cup.
Having benefitted in the draw for the first round with a bye, the Salford lads were looking to make a belated impression on the competition, and did so in the utmost style with a procession of thirteen tries, ten of which were converted by the increasingly reliable Tom Farr, irrespective of the level of difficulty of the kicks.
Having already beaten their hosts on their previous visit in the league, the Red Devils arrived in confident mood, and this proved to be well-placed, as they proceeded to open up their opponents’ defence, with an entertaining display of exciting attacking rugby, much to the delight of Coach, Danny Barton.
“We had spoken about the importance of getting off to a good start, and that with this being a cup game there are no second chances,” he recounts. “We knew we had to be clinical and take our chances, which we most certainly did.
“We also reminded ourselves of having been 18-0 down at one stage, in our first match, at home, against this team, which seems to have inspired our players into getting off on the right foot, and even though we made a couple of errors in the first half, their attitude was absolutely spot on. They all just turned up for each other, which built up their confidence all the more so, and once we had scored our first try, their tails were up for the remainder of the game.”
From that point on, the Red Devils’ hunger for the ball, and their eagerness to score was insatiable, but for Wigan & Leigh, who were on the receiving end, this was a game fraught with difficulties and for their determination to battle on through those, they deserve considerable credit.
“They only had fourteen players available for the game,” explains Danny, “ and then got a couple of quite nasty injuries which decimated the side even further, one of which appeared to be a serious hip injury.
“Even then they didn’t give up and kept going right to the end, which was certainly a really good effort by the remaining players.”
Nevertheless, the Salford lads still had to do their job correctly, in order to take advantage of the situation.
“They did a professional job, and were able to practise some of the things they had done in training,” he continues. “Having already played them twice before, we knew that they had a big strong pack which would play down the middle but we also knew that we could take them on the outside by good quick play-the-balls and slick handling along the line to the flanks.”
With ten of the thirteen tries scored by backs, and four of these by wingers, with Liam Walker grabbing a hat-trick and Mathew Jones racing seventy yards for the final score of the day, these tactics were not only the correct ones in the circumstances, they were clearly adhered to and executed to perfection by the players.
The forwards undoubtedly did their bit in laying the foundations for the rest, and indeed it was prop, Sam Bardsley who, running a great angle, sliced through the defence for the first score of the game after a goal-line drop-out had provided Salford with a repeat set.
The six point lead quickly increased to twenty-four as Oreofe Animashaun, Jack Ratcliffe and Liam Ratcliffe crossed for further scores, and although Wigan & Leigh pulled six points back, on thirty minutes, Tom Farr with his second and Ellis Jay Banks-Clarke added further tries to bring up a 6-38 halftime score.
Proof of Leigh & Wigan’s never-say-die attitude came shortly after the resumption, when they extended their score with a second try, but further scores by Zachary Gorst, Ellis Snellgrove, Dean Nelson set the visitors up for their wingers to round off the scoring.
Unsung heroes, with their outstanding contributions to the overall team performance, were prop, Ben McKiever, whose powerful running dented holes into the home side’s pack, while hooker, Dan Goddard, as he does week after week, held the middle together with his clever ploys.
Man of the Match – Tom Farr
Bradley Smith, Liam Walker, Dean Nelson, Ellis Snellgrove, Mathew Jones. Jack Ratcliffe, Tom Farr, Ben McKiever, Dan Goddard, Sam Bardsley, Oreofe Animashaun, Dane Wakefield, Kane Briggs, Jack Schofield, Ellis Jay Banks Clarke, Joshua Gorst, Zachary Gorst, William Mills.