RED DEVILS HOLD OFF DEWSBURY THREAT

Salford Red Devils 14  Dewsbury Moor 12                  Match Report

A magnificent, last minute, try saving tackle, by Salford fullback, Alex Simpson, put paid to the last gasp chance for visitors, Dewsbury, as their right winger, swept away and into the clear from within her own half then on to the home twenty metre line, in the ladies’ game, which was the first of last Sunday’s Double Header.

She had reckoned without the determination, however, of the Salford skipper, who had produced a real captain’s performance throughout the encounter, with her leadership skills clearly evident, alongside  her ability to deal with end-of-set kicks and high bombs, returning each with far greater yardage than anyone could ever have expected, whilst picking appropriate moments to join the attacking line, and invariably to be found in the midst of any defending which needed to be done.

How fitting, therefore, that it should be she, who was to deliver that bone crunching crash tackle which saw the pair of them taken completely over the touch line, fifty seconds before the final whistle.

That the result was to hinge on that, however, would have seemed most surprising to anyone at the start of the game, with the Red Devils taking control from the outset, and it was as early as the third minute that prop Emily Bagguley powered over the Dewsbury line, only to lose the ball in the midst of defenders, in her attempt to ground it.  Indeed, she was to prove to be a tower of strength in the Salford pack right through both her stints. with some tremendous hit-ups, not to mention her contribution to the defence.

She was more than ably supported by second rower, Jadine McVernon, who has always made notable contributions to games, even when helping out the team by moving to play centre.  Last Sunday, she really did herself proud, particularly in the opening stages, when, on numerous occasions, the angles and lines, she chose to run, saw her then surging through gaps that had been hardly noticeable before, and then making fine progress up-field.

As for scoring potency, this was provided by the Salford right edge, comprising of Michelle Davis, Grace Wray, and Marnie-Lee Kelly, with all three Salford tries coming from various combinations of those players.

The opening score came in the eleventh minute, when, with the Reds in possession twenty metres out, Davis got the ball at first receiver, fed Simpson who had joined the line to provide the extra player, and she then put Wray through, with the centre having the composure to go round to score between the posts ensuring a straight forward conversion for Sam Evans who completed the acquisition of the full six points.

Even though the home side continued to dominate, they could not find their way to extending their lead further, and surprisingly enough it turned out to be the visitors, on 18 mins, who ended up drawing level as a result of gaining three repeat sets, and finally working an overlap on their right, to which they added the conversion.

Five minutes from half time, however, slick handling from a scrum, via Evans, Davis, and Wray, effectively put winger Kelly in at the corner, to restore the Salford lead, and produce a10-6 half-time score.

If there were one aspect of Red Devils performance which had really let them down throughout the first forty mins, it had been their propensity to concede penalties in abundance, and this continued at the start of the second half with Yorkshire side being awarded no less than four back-to-back penalties giving them five consecutive sets-of-six.

Nevertheless, it was Salford who were next to score.  That prolific, individual try scoring machine, which is Michelle Davis, had hitherto had, for her, a relatively quiet game, contenting herself with organising and controlling events, alongside instigating, or involving herself, in the two moves which had brought the tries. 

All that changed on 55 mins, when she positioned herself behind the line at the final play-the-ball of a set to shoot through a small gap she had espied, catching the defence out cold, and fending off the one sole attempt to tackle her, with a force that floored the defender, before she romped over in the corner to extend the score to 14-6.

This proved to be an absolutely vital four points, with Dewsbury’s narrowing of the gap to a mere two points, fifteen minutes from the end, motivating the whole Salford team, which had worked together so effectively on defence for the previous 65 minutes, to continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with one another, thereby keeping their line intact, right through to Alex Simpson’s final, telling intervention.

SALFORD

Alex Simpson, Marnie-Lee Kelly, Grace Wray, Becki Davies, Lily Gray, Michelle Davis, Sam Evans, Summer Harris, Alice Connolly, Emily Bagguley, Tina Millan, Jadine McVernon, Sophie Morris

Interchanges

Abi Collins, Emerald Hickey, Darcy Price, Lydia Egan

RED DEVILS MAKE IT THREE WINS IN A ROW

Salford 16  Oulton 14 Match Report

Salford Red Devils ladies continued their winning ways, last Sunday, with a hard-fought win over the visiting Oulton side, from the Wakefield area. 

Since returning to league fixtures following the completion of their Challenge Cup matches against three Super League sides, the Red Devils had already notched relatively comfortable wins against Bradford Bulls and Stanningley, but this Oulton formation provided a much sterner test.

This is hardly surprising as this was the club which had prevented the Reds from winning the Grand Final, two years ago.

The home side could not have got off to a better start, though, with a great kick-off finding open ground, and the bounce then finding touch to give the Red Devils possession for an equally fine first set. Lily Gray and Emily Webb must be the two smallest wingers in the league, but what they lack in size, they more than make up for with courage.

Consequently, when, at the end of that first set, the ball was moved to the right, it was only defensive numbers which, not for only this occasion, prevented Gray from going in at the corner, to complete a dream start.

Salford, nevertheless, continued to command the upper hand, and on nine minutes forced a goal line drop-out from a kick-in-goal.  Five minutes later, Summer Harris, deputising in the centre rather than occupying her usual second-row berth, was held up over the line, whilst stand-off, Michelle Davis, came close to grounding her own kick-in-goal, shortly after.

So much pressure was eventually going to bring its rewards, however, and on twenty minutes fullback, Alex Simpson raced twenty-five metres to beat the opposition to retrieve Davis’s high end-of-set bomb, to score an unconverted try in the left corner.

Just as it was beginning to look as though this would give them a 4-0 half time lead, the game swung dramatically in the visitors’ favour, on 36 mins, when they gained two back-to-back sets in the Salford twenty metre area from penalties, and let the visitors in at the corner to open their account.

They not only opened their account, they did so with interest, doubling their score direct from the kick-off to go in at half time with the four point lead the Salford players had believed would be theirs.

If the start of the first half had been particularly good for the Red Devils, the start to the second half was even better, with Davis, at the end of the first set, darting through the initial line of defence and then rounding in and out between three others to cross between the posts, giving Sam Evans a straightforward kick to restore the lead at 10-8.

The Oulton players were not to be outdone, this time, however, and started to mount pressure of their own, and it took an interception by Webb, on her own line to prevent their crossing again in the corner.  Not so, on 49 mins, when they were first to get to a kick-in-goal and score behind the posts to give themselves a 10-14 lead, which they were to hold until five minutes from the end.

Second-rower, Emily Bagguley, it was, who brought home the spoils for Salford with an absolutely class try, running onto Davis’s pass with spot-on timing, and at a great angle, all of which took her half-way through the line of defence.  

Even though her progress was halted by a couple of defenders, she showed incredible composure as she was brought down just short of the line by reaching out to place the ball firmly over the line, towards the left-hand touchline, converted by Davis.

So with league fixtures taking a break this week, all eyes will be turning to the Nines tournament at Warrington. With the individual talent there is within the squad, it could be a most enjoyable and entertaining event for Salford fans.

RED DEVILS STORM TO SEASON’S FIRST VICTORY

Salford Red Devils 44  Bradford Bulls 4                         Match Report

Salford Red Devils Ladies celebrated their return to Championship league fixtures with a grand forty-point victory over visiting Bradford Bulls, yesterday at the Salford Stadium.

After a three-match spell of being tested to the limit by Super League opponents, in the knock-out Cup competition, the Reds found some delight at being paired with a team, over which they quickly gained the mastery.

It was not just the scale of the victory, however, that was so noteworthy, even more so was the quite significant improvement they showed in their performance over the whole eighty minutes.  They started off playing on attack much as they had in previous games –  as individuals doing their own task in isolation – but as the game progressed they started to jell with one another and to apply some of the ploys which they have obviously learned and practised in training, and with success.

So much so, that by the later stages of the second half they were moving forward together as one line, passing the ball freely and accurately, and really looking every inch like a team, providing entertainment to the spectators who delighted in what they were watching.

It was in the eight tries they scored, and the way in which they were procured, however, that clearly highlighted their development through the game.  It was as early as the second set that the resultant tap from a penalty saw second-rower, Summer Harris, surge through a gap, as first receiver, and race some sixty-five metres to the try-line rounding the fullback, in the process to open the scoring and set the hallmark for the rest of the game.

Six minutes later, skipper, Alex Simpson scored another individual try this time from a pass – not from a Salford player but from an overly ambitious offload from a Bulls player – giving Simpson a clear run to the posts.  Goalkicker, Demi Jones, who had been off the mark with her first attempt made no mistake this time and went on to kick six out of her eight attempts – two from the touchline – with the only other miss coming on her last attempt of the first half.

Still, the Red Devils found rich pickings from exploiting gaps in the visitors’ defence, and next it was fullback, Michelle Davis, who not once, but twice, on 22 and 28 mins, made long range breaks, the second of which looked as though it were going to bring her an incredible one-hundred-metre try, her having first taken the ball between her posts. 

Heartbreakingly, she was caught from behind a couple of metres short of the line.  ‘Heartbreaking’, not so much for the benefit it would have done for the team at the time, but because she so richly deserved it having eluded, and even shrugged, off tackles on her way there.  Sadly, a bigger opponent, with a longer stride, was able to get within arms-length of her and pull her backwards, away from the line.

She did, nevertheless, have the satisfaction of knowing that her breaks both led to tries.  The first came with Simpson’s second of the afternoon, out wide on the right, when the ball was moved to the right directly from a scrum, to stretch the lead to 16-0, thanks also to Jones’s great conversion from near the touchline.

Although the Bulls were able to reduce their arrears with an unconverted try on their right edge, on 30 mins, this was quickly eradicated three minutes later, when good hands from Jones and Davis got right winger, Marnie-Lee Kelly over in the corner, to bring a 20-4 half-time lead.

The increase in confidence that that scoreline brought, and the cohesion that working together as a unit gave them in continuing to move the ball around, enabled them to score four further tries, all from good teamwork.

Sam Evans, having moved from half-back to centre was first to benefit from good approach work, on 50 mins, coming round towards the posts after having crossed, further out.

Prop, Emily Bagguley, was held up near to the posts, on sixty minutes, and from her play-the-ball slick hands succeeded in getting the ball to the right edge, where substitute, Jen Myler, crossed in the corner.

Possibly the slickest of all the build-ups came from Simpson’s beautiful, slipped pass, four metres out, coupled with Davis’s excellently timed run to receive it, which put the now stand-off half over between the posts, on 69 mins.

Undoubtedly, the most complex move of all came two minutes from the end, when a number of players moved the ball from left to right where Jones’s pass went to her right side, second rower, Myler, whose most cleverly angled run enabled her to complete her brace.

Congratulations then to all the players, who put the difficulties of the past weeks behind them, took control of the game from the outset, and achieved a victory well beyond most people’s remotest expectations.  Having made such huge strides, it is imperative that they now build on that, and endeavour to replicate much of it in future games, where they might well be required to overcome somewhat greater adversity than on this occasion.

SALFORD

Michelle Davis, Emily Webb, Becki Davies, Alex Simpson, Marnie-Lee Kelly, Sam Evans, Demi Jones, Emerald Hickey, Alice Connolly, Emily Bagguley, Jadine McVernon, Summer Harris, Sophie Morris

Interchanges: Abi Collins, Jen Myler, Darcey Price, Lydia Egan

18th Player Natasha Routh

RED DEVILS’ PROGRESS EVIDENT IN PLAY OFF SEMI-FINAL

Leigh 28  Salford 10                         Match Report

In what was undoubtedly the most keenly contested of the four encounters between the ladies of the Salford Red Devils and their near neighbours, the Leigh Leopards, the home side were made to battle for every point before eventually progressing through to the final of Super League 2’s end of season play-offs.

Indeed, it was a considerable achievement for the Salford players to have been making an appearance in this stage of the competition in their very first season in Super League, when many a side would, in such circumstances, have more than likely been battling to avoid relegation.  Not so, the Red Devils, who had finished a most creditable fourth to travel to third place Leigh, in this, the semi-final.

Each of the three previous encounters had seen a noticeable narrowing in the differential between the two sides, and although the scoreline failed to reflect this, the outcome, this time, was in the balance right through to the final fifteen minutes, when the home side managed to find a couple of holes in what had been a magnificent defensive effort by the visitors.

Just how tight the game was going to be was evident from the outset, with both sides locked in an arm wrestle – in which neither side could gain dominance – the like of which had not existed in either the pre-season friendly or the two, home and away league fixtures.

It was, however, Leigh who opened the scoring in the 15th minute, as a result of their gaining a penalty near their own line, followed by a set-restart inside the Salford half, before working an overlap on the left flank with an unconverted try in the corner.

Unfazed by this setback, the Reds continued to muscle up in defence, repelling every Leigh onslaught and setting up line-testing attacks of their own.  One magnificent tackle by centre, Alex Simpson, prevented a near certain try, on 23 mins, and six minutes later she was most unfortunate to be denied a try of her own, when a prior tackle on her winger, Lauren Ellison, was adjudged to have been completed.

As so often seems to happen these days, a disallowed try at one end of the field led to a recognised try at the other, once again coming after another set-restart, with the successful goal-kick giving the Leopards a 10-0 lead, on 32mins.

Once again, the Salford defence was called into action with one of the biggest hits of the afternoon being affected jointly by Player of the Year, Brogan Evans, and fullback, Sage Bannister, on 36mins.  It was that both were able to combine timing and targeted body areas with such precision that made this so impressive.

Efforts such as this can certainly give a team an uplift, and this proved to be the case on this occasion.  A high, end-of-set kick by Demi Jones was dropped, thus gaining the visitors further possession with which they set up, second rower, Viki Kini to force her way over, on 39 mins, enabling Jones to narrow the half time margin to 10-6.

The inspiration that the score had brought the Red Devils was carried through into the second half, and a Leigh error in their own half, early in the tackle count, gave away possession, which Salford were able to use to set up captain, Louise Fellingham, for a try on 43 mins, not only to level the score, but to rattle the home side at the loss of their lead.

The arm wrestle, which had been so tightly fought in the opening period, reappeared as both teams sought once again to gain dominance, but this time the Salford players had developed a confidence which continued to force the Leopards into uncharacteristic errors, by their defensive efforts.  Left winger, Ellison, was prominent in this, in the way she made excellent decisions when faced on a number of occasions with an overlap, which, each time, she unerringly snuffed out.

The introduction from the bench of Becki Davies, who had had to spend the whole of the season recovering from surgery on a serious leg injury, added a new dimension to the side in both attack and defence, as she performed most promisingly, throughout the rest of the match.

A Leigh penalty, on 55 mins, however, was to prove the turning point in the game, as a change of direction from a strike player got her through the consequential space to score by the post to re-establish the Leopards’ six-point lead.

The Salford defence, nevertheless, continued to work overtime as their hosts rediscovered their composure.  Another try-saving tackle, this time from hooker, Taz Corcoran, on 61 mins, temporarily, saved the day, but the Red Devils were beginning to show signs of tiredness, and a handling error gave the home side the opportunity to secure the win with another try under the posts.

A well-earned, goal-line drop-out to Salford, on 70 mins, was unfortunately mis-fielded, and, direct from the resultant scrum, the ball was collected by one of the Leigh speedsters, who sprinted the seventy metres to the other end of the field to give the score-line a somewhat one-sided impression of what had been a tough, and most enthralling encounter.

SALFORD:

Sage Bannister, Katie Garry, Sam Evans, Alex Simpson, Lauren Ellison, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Summer Harris, Helena Walker, Victoria Kini, Brogan Evans

Substitute:

Sarina Tamou, Abi Collins, Hannah Wicks, Becki Davies

RED DEVILS HANG ON IN TO THE END

Leigh 28  Salford 20               Match Report

In what was their third encounter since both teams were promoted into Super League 2, the Red Devils showed noticeable improvement upon both their pre-season friendly and their earlier home league fixture, against Leigh Leopards back in May, as a result of this being the strongest side they had managed to muster for any of the three matches.

Things certainly got off to a great start, when the opening kick-off completely fooled the receiving Leopards to bounce into dead, thus providing Salford with possession from the resultant goal-line drop-out.  From this, the visitors were able to mount an attack which saw the ball being moved to right giving winger, Liana Leota, with room to go over in the corner, to open the scoring.

Having been stung into action, Leigh sought to speed up the game, and, from quick play-the-balls, opened up the Reds’ defence with half-breaks the most serious of which saw loose forward, Brogan Evans, pull off a try-saving tackle after chasing back.

Nevertheless, the Leopards continued to mount an onslaught of attacks for a full five minutes, before crossing for a somewhat soft try under the posts, on 10 mins, which was doubly disappointing after all their prior, valiant defensive efforts, and surrendering the lead.

Not for long, though, as a grand end-of-set kick from Demi Jones was collected by the chasing Alex Simpson to go over in the same corner giving the two-point lead now back to the Reds.

The speed of the Leigh strike players was such, though that they were always a threat, and another break, through the visitors’ line, saw them race on to score under the posts to bring the score to 12-8, on 19 mins.

The fact that the Salford players were able to prevent any further tries up to half time, was, nevertheless, testament to their magnificent defence, thereafter, the highlight of which came in the 35th minute, when Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, came from absolutely nowhere to crash-tackle a Leigh player in full flight, to deny them another score.

It was a dour start to the second half, for the Red Devils, however, for having, just like Leigh in the first half, scotched the kick-off, they had to face the full force of the Leigh attack on their line, for five full minutes, over four back-to-back sets, before eventually succumbing, out of sheer fatigue, to a converted try under the posts. 18-8

When, on 52 mins, Leigh added yet another try, this time in the right hand corner, they appeared to be moving out-of-sight, at 22-8, but, with full credit to them, Salford had other ideas, and with rather more possession got close enough to the Leopards’ line for dummy-half, Taz Corcoran to force her way over from a play-the-ball, close to the posts, thus giving Jones her first kickable conversion and reduce the deficit to eight points, at the mid-point of the half.

Seven minutes later, Corcoran went from hero to villain, when she was duly sin-binned for her part in a spear-tackle, and, with the extra player, Leigh were able to take the score to 28-14.  Her return, on 77mins, coincided with a couple of back-to-back Salford sets, courtesy, a goal-line drop-out, and having caught out the Leopards’ defence once from a play-the-ball, she proceeded to rebalance her contributions more positively, by the most blatant and daring scoot from dummy half to complete both her brace of tries, and the scoring.

So, with the team showing week on week improvement, and with two final away fixtures at Barrow and Featherstone, thoughts will soon be turning to the play-offs, which, with the tightest of contests between the three sides mentioned herein, could see the Red Devils returning quickly to whichever one of those sides they end up being paired against.

SALFORD

Sage Bannister, Liana Leota, Alex Simpson, Steph Gray, Lauren Ellison, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Emerald Hickey, Victoria Kini, Helena Walker, Brogan Evans

Substitutes:

Abi Collins, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Jessica Panayiotou, Hannah Wickes

18th Player – Darcey Price

SALFORD THREE-QUARTERS GRAB THE TRIES

Salford 30  Bradford 4                     Match Report

Following the Reserves’ Saturday afternoon victory over Newcastle, Salford Red Devils’ 150th Anniversary Celebration Weekend continued the following day with the first of the Double Headers continuing the vein of success for the Reds, with a comprehensive win over the visiting Bradford side.

It was the Reds’ three-quarter line which claimed all six of the tries, split evenly between left and right flanks, but with the two centres, Alex Simpson and Steph Gray both outscoring their respective colleagues on the wing, Holly Jones and Lauren Ellison, by an extra try each.

Although scoring tries is predominantly the sphere of the backs, it is not necessarily the way in which every game unfolds, but the fact that each of them, on this occasion, went to a three-quarter is a testament not only to them but the rest of the team.

The hard work, in the form of strong carries, was willingly undertaken by the forwards, who wore down their opposition via both their surging runs and unrelenting tackles, whilst the remaining members of the back division contributed with slick handling, which was so evident in the build up to each score.

In scrum half, Demi Jones’s case, however, she is every bit as dangerous with her boot as she is with her hands, and that was most evident in her contribution to the first try, on six minutes.  A good, well-controlled attack saw an overlap being forced on the right edge, on the last tackle of the set.  As the ball continued to be moved towards the right, Jones decided to take the quick route to securing the score by putting an overhead kick to the corner, where her namesake, Holly Jones, took the ball unopposed, and grounded in the corner, to give the Red Devils a 4-0 lead.

Ten minutes later, another attack saw the ball initially being sent from right to left, until this was suddenly reversed back inside to left centre Steph Gray to cut through for the first of her brace, giving Demi Jones her easiest kick of the half, of which she successfully took advantage.

The 23rd minute saw the ball travel the full width of the pitch to the left, where Gray again was able to find space to go over close to the corner, to establish a 14-0 half time lead.

In many respect the second half was almost a repetition of the first, though with the added ingredient of a Bradford try, on 55 mins, of which few would deny them, as they had gamely battled throughout to limit the number of points they conceded, whilst producing a number of assaults on the Salford line.

It had, however, been left winger, Lauren Ellison, who had opened the scoring of the half, ten minutes in, and indeed it was a mere four minutes after the visitors’ try before the Reds erased it courtesy of Alex Simpson, and Jones’s extending the lead by a further two points to 26-4.  Simpson then went one further with the final score of the match seven minutes from time.

Following the blank weekend the team will return to action next Sunday in an away fixture at Leigh, with considerably more confidence than they have had when facing our near neighbours in previous encounters.

SALFORD

Sage Bannister, Holly Jones, Alex Simpson, Stephanie Gray, Lauren Ellison, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Megan Condliffe, Tamsin Corcoran, Emerald Hickey, Victoria Kini, Brogan Evans

Substitute

Abi Collins, Summer Harris, Jessica Panayiotou, Aofie McKenna

18th Player:  Hannah Wicks

RED DEVILS SECURE THEIR FIRST SUPER LEAGUE DOUBLE

Salford 22  Castleford 10               Match Report

In the first of Sunday’s Double Headers, the Salford Red Devils’ Ladies Team celebrated their first fixture of the season on the main pitch by securing their first ever Super League double, beating the visiting Castleford Tigers.

The two teams had previously met at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle in the opening round, back in mid-April, with the Red Devils running out winners with a not dissimilar scoreline of 20-8, whilst on Sunday the Tigers were given no time to settle as the home side hit the straps in the opening exchanges with the first try coming in only the third minute.

A clever dummy by scrum half, Demi Jones, completely foxed the Castleford defence, with her pass to Sage Bannister putting her in the clear, and she romped over to open the team’s account.  Jones, unfortunately however, saw her attempted conversion strike the near upright and bounce out.

It was almost a quarter of an hour later before they were able to improve on that four-pointer, but when it came, it proved to be the try of the match, and once again it was Bannister who took the plaudits.  A Tigers’ end-of-set kick was well taken by hooker, Taz Corcoran, who fed it to the Salford speedster, who in turn raced seventy-five metres, outpacing every desperately pursuing defender to score between the posts.  This time, with the only straightforward, and successful, kick of the afternoon, Jones made no mistake in adding on the conversion to bring the score to 10-0.

Although the visitors had had a somewhat torrid opening period as they struggled to match Salford’s greater consistency of teamwork, they did, nevertheless, have a number of talented players, who, individually, posed a significant threat when given space in which to run.

As early as the eleventh minute, they had worked space onto their right flank and it was only down to excellent chasing back, by left centre, Steph Gray, that the threat was snuffed out by her over-hauling and bringing down the would-be scorer.

When, however, that self-same attacker was put, once again, into the clear, on 21 mins, she, this time, had too great a start on her opposing centre, and it was down to a last–ditch tackle by fullback, Bannister, here showing her sound defensive capabilities, which prevented a try.  Five minutes later, though, it proved to be third time lucky for the Tigers as they got onto the scoreboard tightening the score to 10-4.

It was, nevertheless, the Red Devils, who had the final say of the half, when recently introduced substitute, Yaz Parton-Sotomayor, who, in what is proving to be her best season so far, having laid on a try the week before via what has been described as a barnstorming run through the defence,  repeated that very act once again, only this time going over herself for an unconverted try in the left-hand corner to set up a 14-4 half-time score.

It was only a matter of a few minutes before the Reds improved further on that lead, thanks to their patience and unrelenting pressure to gain three back-to-back sets, including one from an enforced goal-line drop-out, and telling, well-timed passes, from Corcoran and Bannister, put Gray into space down the left flank to score in the corner.

An absolutely great break from another of the bench players, Abi Collins, on 55 mins set up the position for their final try, which came two minutes later, when right centre, Alex Simpson, who had earlier gone over the line but been prevented from grounding, had the satisfaction of going over successfully from Bannister’s pass.

Although, on 66 mins the Tigers pulled back another try, which they this time converted, the Red Devils were never in danger of losing their lead, which proved to be sufficiently comfortable to see out the remainder of the game..

The Reds now have a blank weekend, and opportunity to recharge batteries before making the return trip to Barrow in a fortnight’s time.

SALFORD

Sage Bannister, Hollie Jones, Alex Simpson, Steph Gray, Lauren Ellison, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Emerald Hickey, Helena Walker, Phoebe Partington, Brogan Evans

Substitutes

Abi Collins, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Hanna Wicks, Aoiefe McKenna

RED DEVILS REGROUP TO MATCH DOMINANT ROVERS

Salford 10  Featherstone 30                         Match Report

One of those purple patches, when a team gets on top and everything they attempt comes off almost spectacularly, came the way of Featherstone Rovers Ladies’ side, for a twenty minutes spell, around the middle of the first half of yesterday’s rearranged game at the Salford Stadium, enabling them to set their hosts a significant challenge for the remainder of the encounter.

But rise to that challenge they did, despite having fallen behind by twenty points, by 27 minutes, and the longer the game went on, the more they managed to get on a par, and at times beyond, their opponents.

There had been little to indicate any of this in the opening minutes, with both teams, settling into an arm wrestle, which seemed to favour neither side, but then suddenly, in the ninth minute three telling passes opened up an overlap on the Fev right wing, and inside support of the break   enabled them to cross for the first score of the afternoon.

It did not remain the only try for very long, with their pressing home their advantage to register back-to-back tries, with, this time, a converted try, on twelve minutes to take their advantage to ten points.

Whilst the somewhat stunned Salford players were then able to stem the tide temporarily, they struggled to match the strength and physicality of the Yorkshire side, who really bossed the show, though the Reds did have the satisfaction, on one occasion, of pushing the much bigger Featherstone pack off the ball, at a set scrum close to the Rovers line, giving them a rare opportunity to test the visitors’ goal-line defence.

It was, nevertheless, they, who were next to score, once again, capitalising, on twenty minutes, from a Salford error in taking an end-of-set kick, and then stretched their lead even further, seven minutes later, to 0-20.

With the writing on the wall, and a long afternoon imminent, it needed something quite special to stem the flow and turn things around.  Step forward Sage Bannister, one of Salford’s close season recruits, who has settled extremely well into the club, despite having come from a rugby union background.  The change to league though has certainly suited her, and her name has been mentioned in other previous reports, primarily for her defensive feats, at fullback.

On this occasion, however, it was her capacity to attack from deep, in the thirty-sixth minute, which was to be so significant.  Receiving the ball from a scrum twenty-five metres from the Salford line, she spotted a gap in the Fev defence, through which she shot and then outpaced all attempts to halt her over seventy-five metres, including those coming from defenders cutting cross field at her, to round the try line and score between the posts, for what was undoubtedly the try of the game, easily converted by Demi Jones.

It was just what was needed to rally the Salford troops, and the second half was a much more evenly fought encounter as a result, with the whole team picking themselves and breaking the stranglehold the Rovers had had on the game.   From that point on they gave as good as they got, and although the rewards came predominantly through near misses, they did add to their tally with a further try.

A clever, low, end-of-set kick through the line, by Louise Fellingham, stood up nicely for centre Alex Simpson, invariably among the try scorers, to take the ball and cross, on 66 mins, to take the Reds into double figures.

It almost led to back-to-back tries, two minutes later, when a tremendous break by prop, Darcey Price, set up good position for Steph Gray to go over, only for her to prevented from grounding the ball correctly, which, unfortunately, was also what had happened in the right-hand corner to winger Liana Leota, nine minutes after the restart.

Although the visitors were rather more clinical in their grounding, they were limited to only two further scores, which was half the number from the first half, and they were made to work much harder for their points as the Salford forwards increasingly matched their domination.

 The outstanding performance of second rower, Helena Walker, with what must surely have been her best performance of the season so far, was the highlight of the home pack’s endeavours.  Despite not having the physical attributes of size and power of the Rovers, she stood up to the might of them from the very outset making really strong carries, and mustering up, relentlessly, on defence with determined tackling on any opponent.

As the players continue to develop in their adapting to the significantly increased demands of life in Super League, this game might well turn out to be a point in the season when they learned how to deal with, and overcome, bigger and stronger opponents.

SALFORD

Sage Bannister, Liana Leota, Alexandra Simpson, Stephanie Gray, Lauren Ellison, Louise Fellingham, Demi-Lea Jones, Abigail Collins, Brogan Evans, Emerald Hickey, Victoria Kini, Helena Walker, Megan Condliffe

Substitutes

Yasmin Parton Sotomayor, Aoife McKenna, Phoebe Partington, Tamzin Corcoran, Darcey Price

RED DEVILS START SUPER LEAGUE WITH A WIN

Salford Red Devils started their Super League career in style, in yesterday’s opening round visit to Castleford, with a reasonably comfortable victory over the Tigers, at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.  Any visit into Yorkshire which results in a win is most commendable, and their near total dominance throughout the first half was most impressive.

It was in only the second minute of the game that they went in front, following a Castleford handling error in their own half, and on the back of good carries on the first four tackles they were able to send the ball along the line to the left where fullback, Luci McKeown, cut through to score and open the Reds’ account. 

Unfortunately, her attempted conversion hit the post.

Scoring tries, however, came rather more readily and it was only a matter of five minutes from the resumption that they went over again.  A quite noteworthy set, in which the Red Devils, thanks to their forwards in particular, went a full seventy metres down field to force a goal-line drop-out, set up further possession in an ideal part of the field to attack again. 

This time, it was second rower, Helena Walker who touched down in the right-hand corner to double the Salford lead, but sadly it was to turn out to be one of her last contributions to the match, as she was forced to leave the field a few minutes later after sustaining a leg injury in a tackle.

Completely against the run of play, in the 16th minute, Cas, on one of their first forays into their visitors’ twenty-metre area, caught out the right edge defence, working an overlap on the wing for a try in the corner, thereby narrowing the score to 4-8.

The truly decisive period of the game, let alone the half, came in a ten-minute period, in the run up to the half hour mark, in which the Salford players took the score to 4-16, with two further tries. The first of these came direct from a scrum on the Tigers’ twenty metre line, with the ball being moved to the right.  On arrival in right centre Alex Simpson’s hands, she cut back inside, wrongfooting the Castleford defence, and enabling her to score by the posts.

That dummy-half, Taz Corcoran, was able to score her try merely by picking up the ball and taking only a couple of steps forward to place it over the line, was almost unbelievable, but there had been a speedy play-the-ball, and she had spotted the opportunity well.   Thankfully, the 4-16 half-time lead it opened up gave the team some cushioning for the second half.

Indeed, the lead might well have been even greater, when, in the final minute of the half, centre, Steph Gray went over in the left-hand corner, only for the wide pass to her to be judged to be forward.

This cushioning they had given themselves was to be needed, however, during the second half, when forms and fortunes were, surprisingly, reversed, and the early warning of this came within ten minutes of the resumption, when Castleford put together their best move of the game, to score, once again, in the left corner.

That it took Salford almost twenty minutes to eradicate that score was something of a surprise, but, in fairness, their second-half performance was well below that of the first forty, with a number of wayward passes going to ground and each error returning possession to their opponents.  The longer this went on the more the Tigers grew in confidence, and the more frustrated Salford seemed to become.

One element of the performance which really helped their cause though, was Sam Evans’s penalty kicks to touch, which gained remarkable distance with the two opportunities she was given, putting the team on the attack, when they had been unable to gain the position by other means.  

A one-on-one ball-steal by Alex Simpson, early in a Cas set, regained the Reds possession, and this time the ball was moved accurately and effectively to the left, where, to recompense her for her earlier disappointment, Gray straightened up the line to go over towards the left-hand corner, on 67 minutes, to calm any mounting nerves.

It still, nevertheless, required some determined and impressive defensive work for much of the remaining time, not least in the minutes leading up to the 73rd, when they had to defend no less than five repeat sets, mainly caused by penalties against over-eager defenders running offside.

Survive it all they did, though, and with a twelve-point winning margin, and their first ever two Super League points to bring back over the Pennines, it was a result to be celebrated, and will hopefully set them up for next week’s Women’s Challenge Cup tie against Featherstone Rovers.  Please note that the kick off for this game as been changed 12.00.

SALFORD:

Luci McKeown, Katie Garry, Alex Simpson, Steph Gray, Lauren Ellison, Louise Fellingham, Sam Evans, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Sarina Tamou, Helena Walker, Victoria Kini, Brogan Evans

REPLACEMENTS

Abi Collin, Hannah Wicks, Summer Harris, Emerald Hickey

RED DEVILS’ DREAM START NOT ENOUGH TO SEAL CHAMPIONSHIP

RED DEVILS’ DREAM START NOT ENOUGH TO SEAL CHAMPIONSHIP

Salford Red Devils 14  Oulton Raidettes 33                            Match Report

After the most wonderful inaugural season for Salford Red Devils ladies’ side, their hopes of finishing as champions were dashed, at the Provident Stadium Odsal, on Sunday last, when, despite getting off to a dream start, they lost their way in a disappointing second half, to go down to a more spirited and composed Oulton Raidettes team.

No-one would have remotely expected that in the early stages, however, with the Red Devils getting off to a dream, early start to proceedings, notching up ten points in as many minutes to send hopes of victory sky-high.

They gained early territorial advantage, having received the kick-off and then being awarded a penalty, and Steph Gray, returning to the team for the first time since breaking her wrist back in June, looked to have scored with her first touch of the ball, in the third minute.  The luxury of having attendant touch judges, however, worked contrary to her hopes, with the near side official ruling a forward pass in the build-up.

This was to matter little, however, with the Raidettes coughing up possession on the second tackle, and a swift move of the ball to the right put winger Lauren Ellison clear in acres of space, to score close in, to which Demi Jones added the conversion.

It was a mere six minutes before Ellison had doubled her account, following a beautiful, flowing passing move along the line giving her enough room to get in towards the corner, too far out for Jones to improve upon.

Comfortable as this all appeared – and there will have been many Salford fans sitting back and anticipating a Salford onslaught of tries – Oulton had hardly touched the ball, and this had been instrumental in the game to this point.

That all changed on the resumption with a Salford handling error in the own half of the field giving the Raidettes their first opportunity to test the Reds’ defence.  Well as this stood up to the challenge on this occasion, their opponents were able to maintain their field dominance, and on 21mins an end-of-set cross-field kick with a rather awkward bounce caught the Red Devils out and Oulton took advantage to open their account, 10-6.

The first sense that this was not going to be Salford’s day came ten minutes afterwards, when they twice were prevented from scoring tries which would have restored their lead and dominance.  For a second time, only three minutes after, Gray, playing on the left wing was denied by a melee of defenders forcing her over the touchline before she could ground the ball.

This misfortune was replicated five minutes later.  Demi Jones was first to the ball, following a loose pass from Oulton on the half-way line, and she twice kicked ahead only to be thwarted by the bounce of the ball in the in-goal area.

A score on either of these occasions would have regained momentum for the Reds, but sadly, this was not the case and it was Oulton who drew level with the first of four tries coming down their right edge, thanks to some extremely well-angled running by their strike players.

Just as it looked as though the teams would be retiring to the dressing rooms level at half-time, events took a most surprising turn in the Red Devils’ favour.  With only three seconds remaining on the clock the ball emerged from the back of a scrum just inside the Salford half to Demi Jones, who fed it to stand-off, Louise Fellingham, by which time the hooter had sounded.  Fellingham responded with a marvellous kick which was hotly pursued by fullback, Alex Simpson, and several Oulton defenders, but Simpson’s pace got her to the ball first, which stood up nicely for her, and she crossed to put her side back in front, 14-10, at the interval.

The story of the second half was a quite different one, and one which was so completely foreign to the Salford Red Devils.  Careless handling coupled with a lack of concentration in defence crept in, and the Raidettes, who had quite clearly used their fortieth minute setback to motivate themselves further, took advantage of each Salford error, scoring a total of twenty-three points without reply, quite deservedly to take the spoils.

The seeds for this below par performance will probably have been sown in previous weeks, not least the one before, when they had suffered a number of injuries in the contest with an extremely physical Hull KR side.  Although there were not many who failed to make the squad this week, many will have been carrying considerable knocks, which inhibited them at times.

In addition, this encounter was the finale to a long and demanding season.  Indeed, our players had played more matches than any other side in the league, not just because of their winning run in the League Cup but also in being one of the very few sides to complete all their league fixtures.  Against a side high with the self-confidence in having been the only team in the league to have beaten Salford, it would seem that the Reds just had no more reserves of energy left to cope with the occasion.

Nevertheless, nothing, not even this disappointment, can take away the incredible success of the side, which has landed two of the three trophies – League Cup and League Leaders’ Shield – available and has provided such wonderful entertaining rugby, in the process.  They can, each and every one of them, hold their heads high and take pride in their totally unanticipated achievements, including participating in yesterday’s Final of this season’s play off competition.

SALFORD

Alex Simpson, Lauren Ellison, Sade Rihari, , Brogan Evans, Steph Gray, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Sarina Tamou, Tamzin Corcoran, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Helena Walker, Victoria Kini, Megan Condliffe

Substitutes:

Luci McKeown, Darcey Price, Hannah Wickes, Abi Collins, Casey Naylor, Gabrielle Chaplin, Eponine Fletcher

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