Salford Red Devils 4 Wigan Warriors 38 Match Report
Five months after tasting the joys of celebrating their promotion, at the first attempt, to Super League 2, Salford Red Devils Ladies’ side got to experience just what that meant in terms of an on the field encounter, yesterday, when they took on the might of Wigan Warriors.
And ‘might’ there certainly was from them, in abundance, and the longer the game went on the more evident this became, with the levels of pace, intensity, and physicality considerably greater than anything the home side had, hitherto, experienced, which is hardly surprising when you consider that their first season had been spent in the Championship, whilst the Warriors had been among the elite of Super League 1.
Yesterday’s pre-season friendly, therefore, was against a team somewhat superior to those whom the Red Devils will encounter in Super League 2, but nevertheless a foretaste of the standards to which they will have to measure up when they eventually, as is their aspiration, gain promotion to the top flight.
If, however, their performance in the opening thirty minutes was any indication of their potential, then that is something, which given time, they will be capable of doing, with their going head-to-head with their opponents, throughout this period.
An early error in possession allowed the visitors a brief assault on their line, but Salford quickly regained possession and thanks to some really strong drives from the forwards, took play up to the other end of the field, where they established their dominance over the proceedings.
Even the loss through injury of regular try-scorer, Lauren Ellison, followed by the sin-binning, on 19 minutes, of newcomer, Sage Bannister, occupying the fullback berth, for holding down after she had so magnificently halted a Wiganer in full flight, did nothing to unsettle the Red Devils.
Indeed, it was during this ten-minute period when they were down to twelve players that they took the lead, with Ellison’s replacement, another debutant, Liana Leola, intercepting a Warrior’s pass and showing a clean pair of heels over seventy metres, for the opening score on 21 mins, which, unfortunately, Demi Jones was unable to convert.
Keeping the visitors at bay for that full ten-minute period was undoubtedly a tremendous achievement, but it did take its toll, in terms of energy levels, and the visitors gradually started to mount pressure and build dominance for themselves.
The first evidence of this came on 31 mins, when a Wigan try was disallowed for a forward pass, but four minutes later there was no such error, when they drew level, after the Reds had failed to diffuse a high bomb, with their first try in the right corner.
Almost on the stroke of half-time, they built up their best attack of the game, to that point, creating a considerable overlap on their left flank to score close to the posts and adding the extras for a 4-10 half time lead.
Despite the disappointment of conceding a third try two minutes after the resumption, the Salford players did galvanise themselves for a fifteen minute period of dominance, but, without any reward via the scoreboard, began to fade as tiredness set in, and two back-to-back, converted tries, on 56 and 59 mins put the result beyond doubt. Two further Wigan six-pointers on 71 and 75 mins gave the result a more one-sided impression than the Red Devils possibly deserved, against a side, let us remember, who had been two divisions above them.
A second friendly in four weeks’ time, against Leigh Leopards, will give them both time to increase their levels of physicality, and gain a more accurate indication of the general standard required in Super League 2.
Sage Bannister, Katie Garry, Steph Gray, Alex Simpson, Lauren Ellison, Lousie Fellingham, Demi Jones, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Sarina Tamou, Helena Walker, Victoria Kini, Brogan Evans
Abigail Collins, Darcey Price, Eleanor Walsh, Laura Bent, Hannah Wicks, Summer Harris, Liana Leola