RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: CATALANS v SALFORD

It had all started so well, with Salford commencing the more brightly of the two sides.  Having gone head to head with their hosts for the four opening sets, and indeed at least matching, if not bettering them, for yardage and for questioning of their defence, the Red Devils got briefly on top, when, from their second end-of-set kick, Harvey Livett, ably assisted by Kevin Brown’s intelligently dropping out of the tackle, was able to relieve Sam Tomkins of possession and launch the visitors on a close goal-line examination of the Dragons’ defence.

A clever kick from Tui Lolohea, into the in-goal area, at the end of that set, brought about the rewards of a goal-line drop-out, and it really looked as though the Salford players could bring a real test to the French team.  That, though, was as good as it were to get for some time, with a forced pass on the second tackle, with little room for error, being seized upon by the home side to set up a counter-attack.

Ten minutes of finely balanced rugby was eventually brought to an end with a debatable refereeing decision giving possession to Catalans, and in their first real challenge to defend their own line, the Red Devils cracked – not once but twice with back-to-back tries – and with that the game had swung to the Dragons.

What followed became somewhat dispiriting, as individual errors became increasingly prevalent, and the sheer physical dominance of the Catalans side, allied to sundry gifts of possession through lost ball or careless handling, saw them wear the visitors down with all the extra tackling each error forced upon them.  Missed tackles, on occasions, led directly to tries.

Indeed, the French had really done a good job in identifying which players they needed to target for special attention, and Kevin Brown, for example, was so closely policed that he often received ball and posse, almost simultaneously.  Their superior line speed added significantly to Salford’s error count and so often snuffed out possible attacks before they had had time to develop momentum.

 

Just when Salford fans, fifty minutes in, were beginning to wonder whether their team would manage to get on the scoreboard, the Reds succeeded in rescuing themselves in that respect, and it was a well worked try when it came.

A strong hit up by prop, Jack Ormondroyd, followed by a quick play-the-ball enabled Brown to get the ball in space for once, and his well-timed pass put Livett through a half gap.  The try still needed scoring though, not just in getting to the line but also in his handling skill, whilst under considerable pressure from the opposition, in grounding the ball without losing control of it.

It was definitely not Salford’s day, however, as the scoreboard reflects, though on that form, many other sides are going to struggle to live with the Catalans side, at their home.  The Red Devils have started the season taking on three of the most dominant teams in the competition.  They have to put that behind them now, and concentrate on securing a victory, with a considerably improved performance, which would be helped by showing greater self-belief, in adversity, both individually, and as a team.

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