The Rugby College 26 Salford Red Devils College Academy 24 Match Report
In atrocious playing conditions, and with the rain pouring continuously throughout the whole game, this local derby game proved to be a far more entertaining encounter than anyone had the right to expect, with a total of ten tries shared evenly between the two sides, whilst the success rates of the conversions proved to be the only difference between two such evenly matched teams.
This was evidenced by the 10-10 half time scoreline, but then the home side took control early in the second half by means of three consecutive tries to take a seemingly unassailable sixteen point lead. However, the Red Devils responded with a magnificent fightback scoring three unanswered tries, to set up a thrilling climax in which they scorned the opportunity to tie the scores with a penalty goal, instead, trusting in their own attacking capabilities to win the game.
Sadly, on this occasion, they were unable to cross the line, though both Jack Ratcliffe and Oreofe Animashaun were stopped so close that spectators on the sidelines thought, on both occasions, that the winning try had been scored.
“We got within a whisker of winning it,” reflects Coach, Danny Barton, “but it was a big game for both sides with all the players knowing one another, and keen and eager to win.
“Both teams got stuck into one another, and in the conditions the standard of rugby from both sides was most impressive.”
Of particular interest was the way in which each side’s tries were carved out, with three of The Rugby College’s coming from astute, well judged kicks into the corners, whilst Salford’s all came from slick handling moves.
“They had a clever half back who, having been successful with a grubber kick in the first half, sensed that we were not so well organised to deal with these, and he turned the game round in the second half with two cross-field kicks,” explains Danny. “We just couldn’t deal with them, so it is something we shall have to work on.
“With ball in hand, though, we played really well. We made great progress up field, and our props, Sam Bardsley, Ellis Pearson and Will Mills, were excellent in this respect. Then, when we got into their twenty, we scored some really well-worked tries.”
Certainly Danny was full of praise for the commitment his players showed in the most taxing of conditions.
“The effort was absolutely great,” he acknowledges, “and they took it right down to the wire, which made me really proud of them. At fourteen points down, midway through the second half they just buckled down and hauled themselves back into the game, starting with a fine, well angled run by Will Mills.”
It was the grasp that his side had taken on the game thereafter, which encouraged him to go for the win rather than settling for a draw, when the final penalty of the game was awarded within kicking distance.
“We really had them on the ropes by then, and so we decided to try and get the win,” he recounts. “Having missed with another kick shortly before, from our final try, it would have been a little unfair to have put Tom Farr under any further pressure, so we went for the try and came mighty close to scoring it.”
Tries: Brad Smith, Tom Farr, Will Mills, Ben McKeever, Oreofe Animashaun
Goals: Tom Farr (2)
Man of the Match: Brad Smith