RED DEVILS RETAKE TOP SPOT

Salford Red Devils 20 Oulton 10                       Match Report

The eagerly awaited second versus first encounter, between Salford Red Devils’,  and Oulton’s, ladies’ teams, lived up to every expectation when the two met in last Saturday’s Double Header, providing the considerable number of spectators with an enthralling contest, which kept everyone rivetted, right through to the final whistle.

It was the visitors who were currently occupying top spot, as a consequence of their victory over the Red Devils back in April, when a number of Salford players had been unavailable, and the side had been further depleted by a number of injuries sustained during the course of the game.  Both teams had then gone undefeated, with Oulton’s solitary point having been dropped in an away fixture with Warrington.

Just as in that first match, the Yorkshire side got off to an exceptionally good start, opening the scoring on 45 seconds, which was not dissimilar to that earlier game. Their try came as a result of the Reds’ failure to take the ball from the kick-off, which, as a result, gave Oulton possession close to the Salford line, and they found a gap in the defence to go through, between the posts, for a converted score on only the second tackle of the game.

Even though they had gone on to win the previous match, they had, to a certain extent, been unable to sustain the surprising speed and dominance of the first five minutes, and so it proved to be the case once more with the Red Devils gradually forcing their way into the arm-wrestle, thanks to the stirring efforts of their forwards.

Throughout the match, this was certainly no place for the faint-hearted, with no quarter being asked nor given, and, on the bone-hard pitch, injuries were plentiful, with interchanges then being required at frequent intervals.

It took Salford just six minutes to open their account but when the try came it was well executed.  A rare Oulton error, with their fumbling the ball from a Salford end-of-set kick, gave the Red Devils possession forty metres out.  The ball was moved to the left, and a strong run from centre, Victoria Kini, sucked defenders towards her leaving space out wide for the rapidly improving, Katie Garry, who struck down the touchline in stylish manner to score in the corner.

The visitors, nevertheless, were able to hold on to their two-point lead right up to the 25th minute mark, when yet more slick handling sent the ball along, this time, to the right wing, where Lauren Ellison, took advantage of the space, which the cleverly timed passes had afforded her, to score out wide.

The tightness and toughness of the contest was unrelenting, and it was ten minutes into the second half before further points were accrued, once again by Salford.  On the back of a penalty, first Sade Rihari, and then Alex Simpson, made the running before the ball was passed to the left, and Kayleigh Bradshaw straightened up to score, with Demi Jones’s conversion taking the score to 14-6

There was no way that the Oulton outfit were not going to fight to the final whistle, and the set-by-set arm-wrestle continued, with the visitors briefly gaining superiority as a result of the Red Devils’ failing to complete several of their sets. So, when the visitors found a gap on their right-hand edge, on 65 mins, they were able to cut through and score, reducing their arears to four points only

Thankfully, the Red Devils were equal to the task.  They completely eradicated their handling errors, thereafter,  leaving their magnificent forwards to impose their dominance, keeping possession secure, and making hard yardage up field, thereby running down the clock.

It was less than five minutes from time when one such pack member, Casey Naylor, in similar vein to the visitors’ opener, forced her way over, despite the attention of at least three opponents, and grounded the ball to the right of the posts.  Another Salford kick had been fumbled by a tiring defender, and Rihari made the necessary progress up field to lay the platform.

The euphoria, with which this was greeted was a joy to behold, and evidence to all and sundry of how much the victory meant to the players, and just how hard the physical battle to achieve it had been.

There now remains just one last fixture, away at Stanningley, which the Reds will have to win in order to remain safely where they find themselves at the moment – at the top of the league.  Doing so will ensure pole position in the forthcoming top four play-offs, which commence on the weekend, 24/5th September.  Home advantage, in at least the first of these, will be most beneficial, with the likelihood of yet one further contest against the robust formation that is Oulton, being their opponents in the Final.

SALFORD

Alex Simpson, Lauren Ellison, Sade Rihari, Victoria Kini, Katie Garry, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Abi Collins, Tamzin Corcoran, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Sarina Tamou, Helena Walker, Megan Condliffe

Substitutes:

Darcey Price, Laura Bent, Casey Naylor, Gabrielle Chaplin, Kayleigh Bradshaw

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:

Photograph: Steve McCormick

RED DEVILS COMPLETE THEIR SECOND DOUBLE OVER SIDES FROM HULL

Salford Red Devils 36  Hull FC 4                   Match Report

Salford Red Devils kept up their pressure for the number one place at the top of the Championship League table, with their completing their second ‘double’ of the season over Humberside opposition, with this rather harder fought return encounter with the side from West Hull.

A recruiting drive of some significance was responsible for the considerable strengthening of the Hull team for Thursday’s Double Header opener, compared with the one which had turned out against the Reds, back in mid-June.  Among those who had been acquired were two French players, who paired up on the left wing to form a strong attacking force, whenever the ball found its way into their hands.

Nevertheless, it was less than five minutes into the game when the home side opened their account as a result of a break from centre, Sade Rihari, supported by fullback, Alex Simpson, who went over between the posts with Demi Jones slotting over the goal.

Those who might have thought that this would herald an ever-increasing number of such scores were to be somewhat surprised to find that it took almost twenty minutes of hard graft in the ensuing arm-wrestle, before the Reds were able to improve on this.  Twenty-two minutes in, however, an extremely strong run by substitute forward, Casy Naylor, set them up for the ball to be swung from left towards the right until Simpson cut through the defensive line, leaving Jones again to complete the doubling of their score.

Four minutes later the Red Devils backed this up with what was undoubtedly the try of the match.  Support play of the highest order saw the ball go through several pairs of hands before being sent out to left winger, Kate Garry, who had already caught the eye with some creditable attacking touches, taking her first scoring opportunity well, to go got over in the corner, thereby celebrating what coincidentally happened to be her birthday.

The resultant score line of 16-0, was then defended by the Reds right through to the half time interval, the resumption from which saw Abi Collins show a remarkable turn of speed for a prop, from Jones’s pass, to extend their lead, on 45 mins, to 22-0, with the addition of Jones’s conversion.

The tightness of the contest was underlined, once more, with a further ten-minute period with the two sides battling for supremacy, but this time it was the visitors who broke the deadlock.  A set-restart was awarded to them, and they used the extra tackles to notch their try, too far out for it to be converted.

It was to be all Salford from this point on, however, with Taz Corcoran crossing twice in the left corner, in almost identical spots, on 65th and 80th minutes, and although neither was converted, the fact that Jones’s first attempt hit the crossbar from so far out, served to underline the considerable progress she has made with her kicking during the season.

Sandwiched in between those two scores came the remaining Jones-converted try, on 69 mins.  The ball was again moved along the line towards the right, and when it came to Rihari she cleverly stepped inside her opposite number to ground the ball close to the right upright.

So the Salford players gained a further couple of points to sustain their battle of attrition with Oulton for prime league position.  The two sides will face each other at the A J Bell, next weekend for what would probably be regarded as a ‘four-pointer’, even though, of course, the winner will only come away with two.  Certainly, this latest, tougher than expected, encounter should stand them in good stead for that, and with only one further league game thereafter (for Salford away at Stanningley) the league placings might even have been decided before then.

SALFORD

Alex Simpson, Lauren Ellison, Sade Riahari, Brogan Evans, Kate Garry, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Abi Collins Helena Walker, Victoria Kini, Sarina Tamou

Substitutes:

Darcey Price, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Hannah Wicks, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Casey Naylor, Laura Bent, Gabrielle Chaplin

ACKNOWLDGEMENT

Steve McCormick, for above photograph showing Demi Jones’s fine kicking style

RED DEVILS REVEL IN THAT ZERO

Dewsbury Rams 0  Salford Red Devils 54                                Match Report

Just about the last thing anyone would want, on finding themselves part way between Cup semi-final and Final, with only a week to go, is to come up against the very team of which they had disposed, in the semis, two weeks earlier.

Not only that, but to have to face them on their own pitch, when the recent encounter had been on home turf, in what was an extremely bruising and highly competitive contest, might well have unsettled many a team.  Then, on top of all that, there was the absence, through injury, of two important strike players, Lauren Ellison, and long-term absentee, Steph Gray.

Yet, while all of these issues might, to many of us seem a little disquieting, the players of the Red Devils ladies’ team were not only totally undaunted by the challenge, they had been positively relishing the chance to turn out and overcome that challenge for which everything seemed to be conspiring to compound.  And how well they did overcome them, with a total of ten tries (7 in the first half and 3 in the second) and seven goals bringing a grand total of fifty-four points.

What was even grander was the fact that they prevented the opposition from scoring at all.  One week earlier, they had determined, at half time, to keep their then opposition, Hull KR, nilled, but had slipped up in this aim, allowing them one solitary break, which brought the Robins a converted try.

On this occasion, however, there was to be no such slip, and the final whistle came with their line unbreached – a quite remarkable achievement for any team, especially in an away fixture in Yorkshire, and against a team which would still have been smarting over their ejection from the League Cup, a week earlier.

So how did the team, which had caused the Red Devils those difficulties in their 18-8 semi-final contest away from home, come to suffer such a hefty defeat, at home, a week later?  The answer lies, not so much with Dewsbury, who were virtually unchanged from two weeks ago, but with the Red Devils.

The first half had barely got underway, and they had scored three tries without the Rams actually having had hold of the ball, their sole contribution to the game being their four kick-offs, alongside as much tackling as they could muster.

The Salford handling was absolutely splendid, with every pass not only finding its mark but being delivered at a speed well in excess of previous matches, and with each one sticking, so that they dominated possession, not just in this opening period but right through the first half.

Seven tries in forty minutes tells its own story, and each one also leads to yet another set of six from the restart.  Little wonder, therefore, that, as the half progressed, the degree of energy which the home side had had to expend in just endeavouring to stem the flow of seamless attacking moves thrown at them, had been sapped to the limit.

Centre, and regular try scorer, Alex Simpson was first on the scoreboard and she was joined in the list of first half try scorers by Luci McKeown (2), Casey Naylor, and newly signed debutant, Sade Rihari (3) also operating in the centre.  Demi Jones was successful with five of her seven conversions to clock up the half time score of 0-38.

The second half was a little more competitive with Dewsbury gaining ,more of the ball, and testing the Reds’ defence somewhat.  That the Salford players were equal to this, however, is reflected in the final score, but with less possession of their own, they were limited to three tries, from player of the match, Brogan Evans, Louise Fellingham, and Demi Jones to which she also added one of the two conversions of the half.

So now all eyes have turned to the League Cup Final, this coming Sunday, when the Salford Red Devils will face Orrell St James, at Orrell, KO 3pm.  We must all now wish them every success on the day, whilst marvelling at their considerable achievement, already, in winning through to the final stage in such a short spell of playing together as a team. GOOD LUCK LADIES!

SALFORD

Luci McKeown, Jena Monks, Sade Rihari, Alex Simpson, Brogan Evans , Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Abi Collins, Tamzin Corcoran, Megan Condliffe, Vicki Kini, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Sarina Tamou,

Substitutes:

Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Casey Naylor, Darcey Price, Helena Walker, Laura Bent, Gabrielle Chaplin

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Sean Monks, Omaga Photography, for headline photograph showing Casey Naylor’s success in grounding the ball.

RED DEVILS RETURN TO WINNING WAYS

Salford Red Devils 22 Stanningley 16

Following two outings in which the Salford side have made rather slow starts to each game, in this latest encounter with visiting Stanningley, they went to the other extreme of scoring all but six of their twenty-two points in the combined first, five-minute periods of each half.  The return of four key players, who had missed the recent reversal at Oulton, buoyed the team for what was only their second home fixture.

The game had been underway for barely forty seconds when the visitors were dealt a severe blow, on the fourth tackle of the first set, in which one of their players was carried off having sustained a serious ankle injury, which required hospital attention.

It took a mere two minutes, after the resumption of play, for the Red Devils to open their account.  Good handling, from right to left, put fullback, Luci McKeown, in the clear down the left flank, and her onward pass to Alex Simpson, enabled the centre to make a most unexpected change of direction.  With everyone expecting her to go for the corner, she cut back inside at a surprisingly acute angle, where there was enough space for her to coast through and score by the posts, giving Demi Jones a simple conversion.

Retrospectively, to have scored so early, and seemingly so easily, was possibly not the best thing for the team, who, mistakenly as it turned out, assumed that they would be able to score almost at will.  In fairness, that was probably the assumption on the side-lines as supporters eagerly awaited a volley of scores.

Instead, however, when the stubborn Stanningley defence thwarted the next assaults on their line, an element of frustration crept in, which led to a number of handling errors, giving the visitors an ample supply of the ball.  The consequent growth in their self-belief made them more and more of a threat, and there were several close calls on the Salford try-line, most significantly when their left winger crossed in the corner, only for her opposite number, Lauren Ellison, to cause her to lose control of the ball, as she went to ground it.

Despite the seemingly incessant pressure they were under, the home side stood firm.  Their defence was tested on several occasions, yet they still managed to keep their line intact, and there were some really hard tackles, some of which forced a loss of possession.  Two of the more eye-catching came from second rower, Serina Tamou, who, herself, had to retire temporarily to the side-line with a hand injury, while the above mentioned try-saver, by Lauren Ellison, was only one of a number of hard hits she made on other players, some much bigger than herself.

The lack of any further score was, however, a matter of some concern, with the Red Devils having the benefit of the downward slope of the pitch.  Six points was barely a lead at all, and one would have expected that they would have been turning round at the interval, at least two or three tries to the good, if they were going to withstand the forays of attacks, which the visitors would surely send their way, when going downhill in the second half.

When, therefore, Salford were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, on 38 mins, they most sensibly chose to take the two points, but concerns must still have remained, over the interval, that this would be insufficient to win the game.

Early in the game as they had scored at the start, they were even quicker in the second half to do so.  Having received the ball from the kick off, the forwards made a series of four tremendous carries upfield to take the game to the Stanningley, twenty metre line where the ball was moved swiftly along the line to the right, via Louise Fellingham, Abi Collins, McKeown, and Taz Corcoran, to feed Steph Gray to extend their lead to twelve points.

The half time team talk had clearly been about making metres up the hill, when in possession, and from the resumption the forwards took over once again, until, from dummy-half thirty metres out, McKeown caught out the first line of defence with a scoot, before then rounding the fullback, to score under the posts, giving Jones an easy conversion.

Even at eighteen points down, the Stanningley team were not going away, and not having touched the ball in the half, were determined to make a game of it, once they did, when it became back to the hard graft of defence, with McKeown’s upending of her opposite number, in full flight down the field, being among the most notable.

Nerves, however, started to twitch as the half went on with the pressure on them growing, and it was no surprise when the visitors eventually got on the scoreboard at 18-6, on 52 mins, and then narrowed the margin further to 18-10, eight minutes later.

It was at this point when the team really showed its character.  As in the past, instead of panicking, they just took control, set up an attack with Casey Naylor using her power and strength to force herself over, after receiving a quick pass from Corcoran at dummy half, for her first try in a competitive game.

The twelve-point lead that this restored proved to be crucial, as yet again, Stanningley launched another successful attack to have the final say, on seventy-two minutes, but with Salford then holding out for the remainder of the game.

 

SALFORD

Lucy McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Steph Gray, Alex Simpson, Eponine Fletcher, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Darcy Price, Tamzin Corcoran, Abi Collins, Serina Tamou, Helena Walker, Laura Bent

Substitutes

Vannessa Hadley, Hannah Wicks, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor,  Casey Naylor, Jenna Monks

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to Steve McCormick for photograph, above,  showing Salford’s defence at its best, with, from left to right, Captain and Player of the Match Louise Fellingham, Abi Collins, Helen Walker, and Taz Corcoran

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