RESRVES QUELL THUNDER IN FINAL HOME GAME

Salford 32  Newcastle 10                               Match Report

A frantic opening onslaught by the Salford Red Devils, in which they outpaced the clock for points per minute by registering fourteen in the opening ten, laid the foundation for last Saturday’s convincing home victory over Newcastle Thunder.

It was at the end of the very first set of good approach work with strong carries and accurate passes, which had taken them to within ten metres of the visitors’ try line, that the ball was moved from right to left along the line, until scrum half, Jack Stevens, sent a fabulous long pass straight into the arms of winger, Billy Walkley who, with that little bit of extra space, went in at the corner.

After only a few tackles of the return set, again, telling passes put centre, Owen Blackwood through on a most impressive run, before further slick handling, this time to the right edge saw winger, Scott Egan, score the first of what was to end up as a hat-trick of tries.

Stevens, who had found the conversions from the two touchlines a little too far out to add on the extras, then took matters into his own hands, cutting through to score under the posts, on ten minutes.  There was no mistake this time with his straight-forward conversion sailing between the posts.  It was, however, to be pretty much his last contribution to the match, as a few minutes later he sustained an injury to his hamstring and had to retire to the dugout for the remainder of the time.

So torrid had the Newcastle side found the opening stanza that one feared that the afternoon might prove to be a no contest, but remarkably, there was to be no further score, for the remainder of the half.  Two contributory factors were responsible for this, with firstly the visitors’ introduction of rather more experienced players from the bench.

The Red Devils, in the meantime, did lose a little concentration and errors started to creep in and mar what had, hitherto, been a near perfect performance.   Two further clear-cut chances on the right edge were lost by inaccurate final passes, whilst penalties for a variety of reasons invited the Thunder into their half to test their defence.

The one aspect of their play on which they did not relax, however, was their end-of-set kick-chases, with hooker Kellan Wood producing some excellent punts down-field, eagerly raced after, and the clearing runs from the receivers halted in their tracks within moments.  This ability to turn defence into attack was probably one of the highlights of their play, and saved so much time, energy, and stress in goal-line defence.

When, eventually, the scoreline did change, seven minutes into the second half, somewhat surprisingly, it was Newcastle who took advantage of two repeat sets in the Reds’ half, to go over, close enough to the posts for a successful conversion, narrowing the score to 14-6.

Having been suddenly nudged out of the comfort of a three-score lead, the Red Devils roused themselves to regain field dominance, and Wood capped his most praiseworthy all-round performance, when he skipped over from a play-the-ball close to the line for a try converted by Matty Rudd, on 51 mins

 A tremendous crash tackle on a relieving Thunder defender, three minutes later, forced the ball free to give Scott Egan his second try, this time under the posts to take the score to 26-6, but there was still another try left in the visitors, who, on 62 mins, in circumstances not dissimilar to their first score, took themselves into double figures.

There was still time left, though, for Scott Egan to round off his, and the team’s tally, nine minutes from the end, after excellent handling by Nathan Connell and Billy Walkley, both of whom had impressed despite being significantly involved in the reshuffle surrounding Stevens’s departure.  Despite his having to take the goal kick from the touchline, Matty Rudd added the extras, whilst Scott Egan was unfortunately denied a fourth try, in the final minute, owing to a forward pass.

Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, was most pleased by what he considered his team’s most impressive and aggressive performance so far, with prop, Bardyel Wells, involved in an eyebrow-raising fifty two tackles during the game, and still having the energy to put in a significant number of bone crunching hit ups, whilst it was a welcome back from injury for fellow prop, Charlie Glover.

So, after this latest success, a trip to Huddersfield in a fortnight’s time will bring their regular season to its conclusion.

SALFORD

Nathan Connell, Scott Egan Owen Blackwood, Mikey Gilligan, Billy Walkley, Matty Rudd, Jack Stevens, Bardyel Wells, Kellen Wood, Charlie Glover, Jacob Lee, John Hutchings, Matty Unsworth

Substitutes

Lucas Iles, Finley Yates, Mason Phillips, Jorge Cabral

SALFORD RESERVES MOUNT GRAND SECOND HALF FIGHT BACK

Salford 22  Leeds 36     Match Report

It is hardly surprising, when you take into consideration all that Leeds Rhinos have available to them in terms of recruitment to their Reserves side, compared with Salford, that encounters between the two sides can sometimes be most one sided – not that that proved to be the case in their latest contest, last Saturday – for whilst Salford have to vie with the likes of Wigan, St Helens, and Warrington for their recruits, the Rhinos have the whole of West Yorkshire, even over onto this side of the Pennines from which they have first choice as to whom they sign.

When, therefore, on Saturday, the Rhinos swept into a 30-6 lead, in the 42nd minute, it looked for all the world as though the remaining 38 would continue along the same lines.  True, the Reds had managed to get on the scoreboard on 23 mins, to erode into what, at that point, had been Leeds’s sixteen-point lead, but as the visitors then went on to increase their tally through two further converted tries to bring up a 26-6 half-time lead, it looked as though that solitary try might turn out to be mere consolation.

What, however, that scoreline did not show was the way that, after the shock of conceding the opening try on four minutes, the Red Devils had gradually started to work their way back into the game, marshalling their defence for over ten minutes to withstand lengthy periods of attack before succumbing once more to a four-pointer in the corner.

When their try eventually came it was well worth having waited for.  A penalty kick gave them good position in the Leeds twenty, and some fine handling culminated in fullback Billy Walkley putting winger, Scott Egan, over near the corner, from which Jack Stevens did extremely well to land the goal from out wide.

Despite this, and many other smaller positives, Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, says that the whole side was disappointed with the first half in general, and had been yearning for the half time interval to take stock and regroup.

“They are quite a young group, and when they were struggling to get a foothold in the game, they were also individually wrestling with themselves mentally as to how to deal with the situation.  The half time talk gave them the focus they needed.”

Not that any reward came immediately, with Leeds adding a further four points two minutes into the half, but gradually the momentum of the game began to shift in the Reds’ favour.  They retained possession for longer and built up their own spells of attack which eventually paid dividends.

It was as a consequence of extended pressure over several minutes, that their first score of the second half came, on 52 mins, when a quick play-the-ball, close to Leeds’s try line by Bardyel Wells enabled Finlay Yates to surge over from dummy half, giving Stevens a straightforward successful conversion attempt.

Fifteen minutes later, Salford’s patience, perseverance, and persistence, all of which are necessary in games which had suddenly become as tightly fought as this one had, saw the Rhinos becoming the architects of their own downfall when a defender ripped the ball in a tackle, backwards over his own line, to which Kellen Wood was first to react, and rewarded with the try.  Stevens, once again added the goal points.

Had anyone been in doubt, after this, that the visitors were starting to get somewhat rattled, that doubt was surely removed when John Hutchings finished off a fine handling move with another Stevens converted try to bring the Reds to within eight points, on 70 mins.

If only they could have kept their line intact for the final ten minutes, it would have made a quite impressive final score against one of the top clubs in the league.  Sadly, that was not to be as the Rhinos capitalised on a penalty, on 74 mins, to add a comforting, further six points to round off the scoring.

As far as this second half turnaround was concerned, Stuart Wilkinson was pleased with the way his charges had responded, though regretful of the fact that it had taken too long for them to do so.  He was however well satisfied with the contributions and progress his three Welsh players, Joe Coop-Franklin, Billy Walkley, and Jacob Lee had made, both in this game and on a match-by-match basis.

They, and the rest of the team will be able to take all that a stage further, in three weeks’ time when they entertain Newcastle in their next league fixture.

SALFORD

Billy Walkley, Scott Egan, George Charnock, Joe Coope-Franklin, Owen Blackwood, Nathan Connell, Jack Stevens, Lucas Iles, Kellen Wood, Bardyel Wells, Joen Hutchings, James Greenwood, Matty Unsworth

Substitute, Jacob Lee, Finley Yates, Euan Haynes, Lucas Coan

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