Salford Red Devils won a nail-biting content against Catalans Dragons in Round 10 of the Betfred Super League.
Joe Burgess scored a breakaway try on his 150th Super League appearance, with late drama the only difference between the Red Devils and another golden point period.
That leaves Salford fifth in the table after 10 games and puts the team in prime position to kick-on after the international break.
The opening five minutes were cagey and both sides started to trade sets without any real response.
Sam Tomkins created a half-opportunity on the 7th minute when he sent a teasing grubber kick in behind the Salford defence, but a combination of Marc Sneyd and Joe Burgess thwarted the chance with some expert handling.
After gaining territory down the other end in double-quick time, the Red Devils struck via a unlikely source.
Salford were awarded a six-again just 10 metres out and made the penalty count. Andy Ackers sold his marker a nice dummy from the ruck and tee’d up the onrushing King Vuniyayawa to crash through the Catalans line and slide over to the right of the sticks.
Sneyd sent the conversion over and the hosts had the opportunity to build from the restart. It could have been even better when Ackers delivered a lovely 40/20 from dummy-half – allowing Salford a set right in front of the try line.
Attack after attack on the Catalans defence and pressure was building very nicely for Paul Rowley’s side. Matt Costello forced a drop-out, with Sneyd hit high a few tackles later, leaving the same source the opportunity to kick for two and extend our lead to eight.
That advantage barely lasted 90 seconds, however.
After dropping the ball from the restart, Catalans worked the play left and Tom Johnstone – despite the best efforts of the sprawling Deon Cross – acrobatically touched down in the corner.
The next 20 minutes was a real arm wrestle for territory, but Joe Burgess sprung the game into life with two magical moments.
The first came from a break down the left, where our number five jinked in and out and found space to offload to Ellis Longstaff, who just couldn’t keep hold of the ball for an easy stroll over.
But just before the hooter – springing out of virtually nowhere – he leaped over a defender and began one of his trademark gallops downfield with open grass ahead of him.
To his credit, Johnstone almost made a stunning tackle with Burgess running out of steam five metres out, but the winger had enough momentum to slide over under the sticks.
On his back, might I add!
HALF-TIME: Salford Red Devils 14-4 Catalans Dragons
The Red Devils started the second forty on the front foot and when Sneyd was hit late just five minutes into the half, he took two and extended the gap to ten.
Just like in periods of the first-half, Catalans were quick to hit back and keep themselves in the contest. A neat grubber kick caused chaos on the last, with Paul Seguier on hand to claim and ground.
Salford were pinned on their own line for a lot of the next 20 minutes, but some expert and gritty defending kept Catalans out, time and time again.
Brodie Croft – who produced an excellent defensive shift today – forced a few penalties with his tough tackling, and Burgess athleticism was on full display with one excellent claim under pressure.
Then, in the dying minutes, there was almost heartbreak for Salford.
Adam Keighran finally broke the Red Devils resistance to power over, but when he stepped up to convert and make it 16-16, he pulled his left-footed effort wide of the posts.
The South Stand roared and so did the rest of the stadium when they realised there was just five seconds of normal time to play.
Sneyd kicked the restart, Salford swarmed the Catalans attack and the hooter signalled three in a row for Rowley’s men, as they head into a much-needed rest and international break.
FULL-TIME: Salford Red Devils 16-14 Catalans Dragons
Photo credit – Steve McCormick