Salford 12 Wigan 48
A slow start followed by a disappointing concluding ten minutes, sadly, meant that the final scoreline of this U19s fixture was a somewhat unbalanced reflection of the game as a whole. This was a pity, because sandwiched in between, the Salford side, depleted as they were through injury, stepped up to the plate, first to match the visiting Warriors, and then, early in the second half, briefly to take control of the game, registering two converted tries to close the gap between the sides to twelve points, at 12-24.
Certainly, during the middle hour, after having gone twelve points behind, the young Red Devils did all the right things to contain the Wigan attack, and were successful in doing so to the extent that they regrouped, put behind them the issues which had let them down to that point, and so limited the try hungry-Warriors to a single further score before the interval, bringing the half time score to 0-18.
A further early converted try after the resumption, however, was quickly shrugged off, as the Red Devils took command in a period which was a personal success for second rower, Lewis Hatton. He, it was, who turned the tide, initially, on 49 mins, with a great break, which was then followed by a second, from fullback, Cory Bennie, down the left flank. The ball was then moved along the line towards the right, where Hatton ran a great line to cut through and score under the posts. Aaron Moore slotted over the conversion.
This was just the tonic the team needed, and they responded to a man. Within five minutes, great work down the right flank from Ben Calland, and winger, Jake Knowles, set up position for a good end-of-set kick to fox the Wigan defence, and Hatton was on hand to recover the ball and go over again, this time to the right of the posts, with Moore once more converting.
Three minutes later, a great forty-twenty put the home side on the attack yet again, and on the fifth tackle, prop, Tom Millington, was unfortunate to be prevented, by sheer numbers, from grounding the ball after having got over the line.
Suddenly, the game hung in the balance, and the rattled Warriors were forced into error after error, which enabled Salford to dominate both position on the field, and possession, and a further score at this stage might have given them the additional impetus they needed to have held out for longer. As it was, their further efforts came to naught, and a rare Salford handling error enabled the visitors to seize the initiative and another converted try took the game away from the valiant Devils.
With a side lacking, through injury, senior players of the likes of scrum half, Lewis Fairhurst, prop Jonny Scott, and vice-captain, Luke Fowden, the much younger Salford team ran out of energy against the physically superior Wigan side, who exploited the final minutes to the full. As the Red Devils had discovered to their cost in the opening stanza, Wigan are always capable of turning any half chance into points, which they accrued with the utmost flair and efficiency, to leave their bemused hosts to reflect upon this final turn of events.
Bennie, Knowles, Calland, Madders, Caine, A Moore, Whittaker, Cottington, Gregory, Millington, A Jones, Hatton, Worrell
Bent, Brown, Okanga-Ajwang, Storey
Mullen, Grant, Davies, Casey, Paisley, Heckford, Woods, Field, Ganson, Brady, J Moore, Davies, Shelford,
Barnes, Kibula, Kilner, P Jones
REFEREE – Mr A Bentham
Macauly Davies (3), Lewis Heckford, Sammy Kibula, Callum Field, Kyle Shelford, Sam Grant
Jake Moore (8)
Report by David Clegg