Salford Red Devils Education Academy 12-38 Cowley International College
There is no substitute for experience, as we all know, and when a fledgling side full of relative newcomers, as is Salford Red Devils’ College Academy U19s, comes up against an organised and well-drilled team, it is obvious that it is going to be a steep learning curve for them, and that is just how this fixture turned out to be.
The history of Cowley International College, on the outskirts of St Helens, is steeped in rugby league, the great Ray French, having taught there for many years and developed generations of St Helens players, and this affinity with the sport continues to the present with the Saints’ U19 Academy using the college’s facilities for all their training sessions.
Little wonder then that against players, many of whom had played together from the age of six or seven, the relative naivety of the Salford side was evident throughout, and probably to no-one was more aware of this than coach, Danny Barton.
“The difference in experience between the two sides was clear from the outset,” he acknowledges, “with some of our lads quite new to the game, but what was pleasing about it was the attitude and commitment that they showed throughout. They just kept going and didn’t give up.”
It was around the technicalities of the game that they particularly came unstuck, with the Cowley lads able to perform these from second nature, whereas the Salford players are still in need of the necessary awareness and practice at them.
“That is the sort of thing we are working on, at training,” agrees Danny, “but it is going to take time. Next week’s fixture will be a much more even affair, and that will be helpful to the lads, because losing week after week will do nothing to help them at all. In that respect it is a good thing that we drew our first game, last week.”
With such a wide range of teams within the competition Danny believes it is important that no-one gets too hung up on the team’s results, but rather a week on week improvement should be the measure on which they are all judged.
“I could see the progress they made from that first week,” he enthuses. “It may not have been by a great amount, but it was definitely there. We can’t think about winning games against the better teams until we have gone though the processes necessary for this.
“That means implementing what we have practised in training, such as getting to the end of our sets, because when we did that, yesterday, it put Cowley under a bit of pressure, but we still need to learn to manage the game better.”
It was quite evident, on a few occasions that when the team stuck to their ‘script’ that they have a great deal of potential within them. This was most evident immediately after the resumption, when having taken the ball from the kick off,for the four successive tackles they then made solid progress up field, putting the visitors on the back foot, by means of quick play-the-balls, strong running, and accurate passing, which culminated with William Mills crossing for the first of his two tries.
Later, good line speed, on defence, forced Cowley into a handling error, and Mills was quick to take advantage of this, with a kick at the loose ball into the in-goal area, and he won the chase to the touch-down. Having added on the extra two points to the first try, goal-kicker, Tom Farr was again successful with this second conversion.
Jack Ratcliffe was awarded Salford Man of the Match.
|1.||Cowley International College||2||2||0||0||82||22||60||6|
|3.||Wigan & Leigh College||1||0||1||0||42||42||0||1|
|4.||Salford Red Devils Education Academy||2||0||1||1||54||80||-26||1|
|5.||Wigan Warriors Education Academy||1||0||0||1||12||32||-20||0|
|6.||The Rugby League College||1||0||0||1||10||44||-34||0|