Salford Red Devils were leading at half-time, but ultimately fell to a 22-12 defeat against St Helens this afternoon.
Paul Rowley’s side came into the game full of confidence after four consecutive wins and were looking for a first in over 43 years at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
We made a flying start and showed our intent to defend tough. Ryan Brierley collected an early grubber kick, with Marc Sneyd forcing a turnover on the next set when he wrapped-up Curtis Sironen.
Three tackles later, King Vuniyayawa ran a nice line and Oliver Partington sent the Fijian through a gap. Our number 10 hurried towards the line and slipped in Brodie Croft under the posts.
Marc Sneyd added the extras and a late hit from Tommy Makinson from the restart allowed us to build from halfway.
Saints – the reigning world champions – continued to test our line and Tee Ritson almost produced a stunning finish in the right corner after string of passes.
Confirmed by the video referee, Brierley’s last-ditch tackle just nudged the flying winger out of play upon grounding.
The next ten minutes was nip and tuck, but a lovely move from the 30 extended out lead.
Andy Ackers got it moving with some deception at the ruck and Brierley played a neat one-two with Kallum Watkins to break through and slide under the posts.
With two more added and a twelve point lead, the Red Devils were in total control.
Things took a turn when Shane Wright went down under a heavy challenge and had to be carried from the field. Rowley confirmed post-match the Aussie has suffered a suspected broken ankle.
After the stoppage in play, Salford tried to get it flowing once more. Brierley – the architect of a lot of good play this afternoon – almost slipped in Rhys Williams on the right, but was adjudged to throw it forward.
With ten minutes until half-time, Saints were knocking on the door and made their pressure count. James Roby – who today broke the club’s all-time appearance record – sprung from dummy-half and made the initial break, with Curtis Sironen finding James Bell in support to cut the deficit.
HALF-TIME: St Helens 6-12 Salford Red Devils
The Super League champions emerged from the break on the front foot and were handed the initiative when Matt Costello was penalised for an incorrect play the ball.
From the same set, Sironen span out of a challenge on the last to stretch over. That was the first of three tries the hosts scored inside the first 12 minutes of the second period.
Jonny Lomax was the next over when Williams’ pass was too high for Joe Burgess on his own line. The Saints number six claimed the bobbling ball and strolled over.
The champions were really in the ascendancy and Alex Walmsley broke a tackle to tee up Will Hopoate, who sent Makinson in to acrobatically touch down in the right corner.
Defeat was perhaps confirmed with James Batchelor’s try five minutes later, but the Red Devils did try to rally late-on with some resolute defending and neat passing sequences from deep.
Deon Cross had a few opportunities to create an opening, but his eventual passes to Williams was just off the mark, or adjudged forward.
The afternoon was dampened further with news Ackers had failed his HIA, and the final hooter brought to an end our winning run.
FULL-TIME: St Helens 22-12 Salford Red Devils
Photo credit – Steve McCormick.