Salford Red Devils produced arguably their best all-round performance of the season in a 8-32 victory over Huddersfield Giants.
Travelling to face a direct playoff rival after seven successive defeats was always going to be a tricky test, but Paul Rowley’s side were outstanding in all areas of the field.
Ryan Brierley and Brodie Croft forced an early drop out with a nice chase.
A promising move – involving the same pair – nearly opened the scoring, but the referee pulled play back for an obstruction.
Our metres through the middle caused Huddersfield a whole host of problems. Ken Sio, Joe Burgess and Brad Singleton all with charging runs push us upfield.
We had our chances to put points on the board, but it was the Giants who struck first, with Jake Bibby capitalising on a loose ball to slide over.
Oliver Russell added the two, but that was the only time they’d cross across the entire contest.
Salford responded instantly. Some slick play from Croft – a beautiful delayed pass – set Brierley away in front of the travelling faithful.
Russell scored a penalty-goal on the 30 minute mark after a high tackle, but Luke Yates’ loose carry allowed us a full set on the Giants’ line.
Sam Stone – who was outstanding across the contest – span away from his marker to stick out an arm and hand us a half-time lead.
HALF-TIME: Huddersfield Giants 8-12 Salford Red Devils
The first 10 minutes of the second period was a bit of an arm wrestle.
Huddersfield were certainly winning the territory battle, but a few handling errors were delaying any progress.
Their real, repeated pressure was elevated when Stone made a BIG tackle. A set later, Salford took control via the same source.
A high bomb on the last bounced to Kallum Watkins, who’s neat flick pass set Andy Ackers away.
An inventive kick skidded past Chris McQueen and Stone got his hands to the ball for his second of the night, at such a pivotal time.
It put the Red Devils firmly in the driving seat and what came next was a moment of history for a true modern day great.
When another neat, skidding grubber kick went racing into the right corner, there was only one man who was getting to that ball.
Sio slammed down to score number 77 in a Salford Red Devils shirt, and number 100 in Super League.
Two points were almost confirmed, but it still didn’t alter the effort and enthusiasm in defence.
Brierley and then Croft both made try-saving efforts in the right corner to deny Sam Halsall.
We transitioned defence into attack, with the champagne rugby we’ve seen so often under Rowley come to the fore once more. Watkins flicked a neat pass inside and Cross teed up Atkin for a stroll over.
One of the final plays of the game perhaps summed-up our dogged performance. Burgess stopped Esan Marsters in his tracks, with a whole host of Salford bodies flooding in to power the centre out of play.
With Connor kicking a drop-out, out on the full, Sneyd took the opportunity to nudge another two points onto the total, right on the hooter.
FULL-TIME: Huddersfield Giants 8-32 Salford Red Devils
Photo credit: Steve McCormick