RESERVES FAIL TO CAPITALISE ON COMEBACK

Warrington 32  Salford 22                     Match Report

A most impressive first half comeback saw the Salford Red Devils’ Reserve side overturn a ten point deficit, to take a 10-16 half-time lead over the Warrington Wolves Reserves, at Victoria Park, last Saturday, but, disappointingly, were unable to sustain it as the home side took command in the second half to secure the victory.

The Red Devils are beginning to make a habit of getting off to a slow start, falling behind on the scoreboard, and then coming from behind to take the lead.  That, on this occasion, as much as their below par performance in the second half, was responsible for their defeat.  It would have been far more achievable for them had they been defending a 0-16 lead at the turnaround.

Two quick tries, in the 3rd and 5th mins, put the Wolves in the driving seat, but as has happened most recently, against Wigan and London, the Salford players pulled together to overcome this in the second quarter.

It was not until the fifteenth minute, though, that they were able to launch their first attack, but, most remarkably, completed it with a try by fullback, Nathan Connell, recently returned from duties with the first team, the week before, from a kick towards the posts, over the line by scrum-half, Kai Morgan, who also added the extra two points.

Apart from these two players, there was also another pair in the side both of whom have quite a wealth of first team experience.  Amir Bourouh sadly had the misfortune of having to sit out much of the first half out, awaiting a half time head injury assessment, after a knock, on 8 mins.  King Vuniyayawa, however, contributed much to the side’s mid-half fightback.  

Having already impressed with some really strong carries forward, he was instrumental in the next Salford score.  This started with an arcing run from the middle of the field fifteen metres out towards the left touchline, and as he was tackled just short of the line, he slipped the ball to centre, Brad Hammond, who crossed too far out for the conversion to be successful.

Not only this, he, it was, whose strength and power took him through the defence to score between the posts, for their one and only try of the second half, with Morgan adding the straight-forward conversion.

Before that, however, the Reds had enjoyed a grand ending to the first half, when they took the lead, five minutes from half time, with second rower, Charlie McCurrie, charging over, and although initially being prevented from grounding the ball by a cluster of defenders, most smartly rolled over sideways to place it down on the other side.  With the aid of a ricochet in off the post, Morgan was able to chalk up another two points to widen the Salford lead.

The second half, however, was to be all Warrington’s – certainly as far as the scoring was concerned – though it has to be said that a couple of those were attributable to the most extraordinary of circumstances.

Nevertheless, the Reds continued to endeavour to press their hosts on a number of occasions, but without success, and so, with frustration building up, errors started to set in, which merely sourced the Wolves’ opportunities to attack all the more.

Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, elaborated on this further:

“It was a disappointing afternoon, overall.  We had a poor start and then, in the second half, we went away from what the good things that we had been doing up to half time.  It is indicative of the point in our development at this time, where there has been plenty of spirit in evidence, but also a lack of awareness of the impact of errors and especially giving away penalties.  This is something that can only be eliminated by learning, over time

“Despite this, we have been competitive right to the end, in every one of our games, and this was most evident in the contribution of substitute, Leunbou Bardyel-Wells, whose commitment and endeavour was absolutely outstanding.  His impact caused so much anxiety in the home crowd, that they even cheered when he received a couple of hard hits, while carrying the ball, which is a significant compliment in itself.”

 SALFORD

Nathan Connell, Joe Coope-Franklin, Scott Egan, Brad Hammond, Ethan Fitzgerald, Joe Purcell, Kai Morgan, Jamie Pye, Amir Bourouh, King Vuniyayawa, Henry Davies, Charlie McCurrie, John Hutchings

Interchanges:

Finley Yates, Jack Gatcliffe, Leunbou Bardyel-Wells, Josh Wagstaffe

ERRORS COST RED DEVILS DEARLY

Wigan 34  Salford 20                 Match Report

Two brief spells, at the end of each half, saw the Wigan Warriors Reserves grab enough points to record a victory which appeared rather more emphatic than it actually was, in their home fixture with the Salford Red Devils.

In a concluding ten minutes of the first half, they succeeded, with two tries and a conversion, in overturning their visitors’ 14-6 lead to take a two-point advantage into the half time interval, and then in the final five minutes of the game stretched that tentative 22-20, two-point lead to fourteen, by means of two further, converted tries.

All of which was most dismaying for a brave Salford team that had not only matched their illustrious opponents for the remaining sixty-five minutes, but in many respects had been the better side. 

One aspect, however, in which they were second best, was in the number of handling errors they made, each of which presented the Warriors with more possession with which to gain momentum.  Add to that the fatiguing amount of defending this consequently incurs, and it becomes clear as to why the home side were able to secure the game towards the end of each half.

In every other aspect of their performance, though, the Reds  were outstanding, particularly in defence, but not only that, also with the power of their carries, their support for the ball carrier, their kicking game, and their exceptional commitment on a day in which temperatures rose continually throughout, thereby sapping energy levels well above the norm.

As if to show just how evenly balanced the two sides were, it took up to fifteen minutes for Wigan to open the scoring, and even then it came against the run of play, with an excellent Salford end-of-set kick turning fullback Hodkinson around, but, in so doing, enabling him to wrong-foot his nearest chaser and set up an eighty yard try, down the right edge, finished by scrum-half Farrimond, who added the goal.

Two minutes later, an extremely clever restart, by Nathan Connell, caused havoc in the Wigan ranks, giving possession to the Red Devils, which in turn led to their being awarded a penalty.  From the ensuing assault on the Wigan line, Charlie McCurrie took Jack Gatcliffe’s slick, short pass on the burst, and through a gap, for Salford’s first try.

The sin-binning of Wigan’s Eseh for interference with an injured player, in the twenty-first minute proved significant, with a great thirty metre scoot by hooker, Finley Yates, being finished off by the supporting Jordan Brown, who scored between the posts, and Gatcliffe adding the extras.

The introduction of Bardyl Wells into the fray, at this point, added significantly to the Red Devils’ effort, and, always someone to reckoned with, he, nevertheless, proceeded to have his best game in a Salford shirt, invariably needing three or more defenders to eventually bring his progresses to a halt.

On the back of this renewed vigour, the visitors proceeded to notch back-to-back tries, when the ever-improving, Connell, put up a high kick, which he chased and caught, to then race over for an unconverted try on the right putting the Reds in the lead at 6-14.

It was one of those Salford errors, however, on 30 mins, which gave possession to Wigan to score in the right-hand corner, and then, on 36 mins, after four back-to-back sets, they took that half-time lead with a converted try near the posts.

Twenty minutes of scoreless play, from the start of the second half, was broken by the Warriors, after Salford had been unable to take advantage of a kick-in-goal, and from the restart, with the Reds briefly down to twelve men due to on-field treatment to one of them, Wigan added another six points to move their score on to 22-14.

Even then, within five minutes,Salford had eradicated that score.  A magnificent wide pass out to the right wing, from Connell, found the unmarked Dan Harrison, who scored in the corner.  Gatcliffe landed the goal with his kick from the touchline.

From then on, right up to the seventy-fifth minute, the game could have gone either way, and indeed the Red Devils had the greater number of opportunities, but a combination of good Wigan defence and careless handling errors prevented this, with the Warriors’ counter-attacks proving decisive.

SALFORD

Ethan Fitzgerald, Daniel Harrison, George Charnock, Joshua Wagstaffe, Scott Egan, Nathan Connell, Jack Gatcliffe, Jordan Brown, Finley Yates, Alex Davidson, Charlie McCurrie, Henry Davies, John Hutchings

Substitutes

Bardyl Wells, Lewin Hough, George Hough, James Shields

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