St Helens 46 Salford 16 Match Report – David Clegg
A considerable difference in size and maturity, not for the first time this season, was the difference between the two sides, upon the Salford Red Devils’ U19s’ visit to St Helens, for whilst experience counts for a lot, physical size is fundamental to the game of rugby league.
It certainly was not through lack of effort, nor want of courage, that the scoreboard presented a somewhat cruel reflection of the game, which the Devils really did not deserve. Indeed, despite conceding eighteen points, in the first twenty-five minutes, they stuck manfully to their task, to register three tries of their own, two of which came in the final fifteen minutes of the game, at a time when many teams would have been far more keen to hear the final whistle, than to be intent upon reducing the deficit.
And the encounter was not without its cost in terms of injury, the first of which came as early as the seventh minute, when fullback Connor Williams, scorer of two tries the week before against the City of Hull, hobbled off, not to return. A concussion to chief play maker, Lewis Fairhurst, similarly concluded his contribution to the match, and both will undoubtedly miss this week’s home fixture with the Widnes Vikings.
A number of other players also picked up injuries, which not only inhibited their performance, but also required reorganisation within the team to allow for this, while Saints, on the other hand went from strength to strength, notching eight tries, with all, bar one of them, being converted, often from well out to the touchline, and they were well worthy of every one of their points.
Just asit looked as though the Red Devils, despite having, thus far, performed to the best of their ability, might have to wait for the second half to open their account, a St Helens’ handling error gave them possession in their opponents’ half, and a reverse pass from hooker, Aaron Moore, found replacement prop, Luke Fowden, coming on the charge, to take him over the line, despite the close attention of several defenders. Fairhurst was successful with the conversion.
There was, however, sufficient time remaining for the home side to chalk up a further converted try to bring the half time score to 24-6, and although the second half started brightly for the Salford lads, with four consecutive penalties not only putting them on the attack, but also leading to the sinbinning of the home side’s centre, on 43 mins, they were unable to capitalise on this, as was also the case with Moore’s excellent 40-20, on 55 mins.
Fortune eventually swung Salford’s way, in the 67th minute, when, speedy winger, Elliott Caine, intercepted a wayward Saints’ pass to race, 70m to the line, outpacing the pursuing cover to score in the corner. In the absence of Fairhurst, Moore took over the goal-kicking duties and slotted over the conversion from the touchline, to bring the score to 34-12.
Three minutes later, a strong run by centre, Harry Maders, set up a good position , and from a play-the-ball close to the line, Moore received a pass, onto which he raced with a power and determination which belied his size, to score to the right of the posts. Surprisingly he was unable to add the conversion and St Helens went on to further two further converted tries.
Connor Williams, Jake Knox, Harry Maders, Alex Gaskell, Elliott Caine, John Whittaker, Lewis Fairhurst, Jack Cottington, Aaron Moore, Chris Worrall, Declan Hidden, Lewis Hatton, Liam Bent
Brad Storey, Lewis Gregory, Luke Fowden, Jack Thompson