After two back-to-back games in one weekend, Red Devils’ Head Coach, Paul Rowley, rewarded the team, which had, most remarkably, won both, and doing so straight after an energy-sapping trip to Catalans, by giving them what one would suspect they desired most of all, a well-earned rest. The consequence of this was that the team given the task of facing the Wolves, at the weekend, was a rather makeshift group.
With six players from the Reserves making their debuts, and other more experienced players selected in most unfamiliar positions, expectations, among fans, of a victory were not high, and those expectations proved correct. What, however, was not correct was the fear that the side might get swept aside by an opposition keen to make the most of what they regarded as a winnable match.
Far from that, although struggling in the early stages to adapt to new positions, the speed of the game, and one another, they grew into it extremely well, and the longer it went on the more they forced the visitors into handling errors, which aided their own cause and increased their confidence considerably.
Indeed, it was the home side which produced the first of a number of scoring opportunities, in the second minute when right winger, Myles-Dalton Harrop, was unable to take advantage of an extremely awkwardly bouncing ball from an end-of-set kick to his corner.
With nothing to show for this Warrington took the opportunity to open the scoring, two minutes later, when they forced an overlap on their left flank to score in the corner. They then succeeded in doubling their score to eight points, on twelve minutes, with another try wide out to the touchline.
Harvey Livett’s superb kick-off found open ground and bounced into touch, thereby securing the Red Devils unexpected possession in ideal territory, and from the ensuing attack James Greenwood forced his way over and twisted round to ground the ball to the referee’s satisfaction. Stand-in goal kicker, Livett, proved to be a more than adequate replacement, landing all three of his attempts, some from the most difficult positions.
The next fifteen minutes saw the Wolves mount a succession of attacks which had their hosts at full stretch and pinned down in their own twenty metre area, staving off each attempt to increase the winning margin. In fact, it was the 32nd minute before the Wolves eventually managed to cross the line between the posts and take the score to 6-14.
Three minutes later, an impromptu football match, started by Warrington hacking on a loose ball and then less successfully continuing to try to control it with further kicks, was won by Rhys Williams who secured possession and returned play back to the Wolves end of the field. A goal-line drop-out was forced, and Salford raced through for what looked like a simple try. Too clean and simple for referee, Ben Thaler, however, who had spotted an obstruction in the build-up.
It was, nevertheless, the Reds who finished the stronger, adding to their points tally with a Livett penalty-goal in the 39th minute, to bring the half-time score to a most respectable, 8-14.
The second half started with yet another spell, this time of eight minutes, of the Salford players thwarting periods of Warrington attack, until the visitors got onto the end of a low kick into the in-goal area for a converted try.
The highlight for Salford of this second forty came on 59 mins, when Myles-Dalton Harrop was put in the clear, on his wing, and he romped over to gain some compensation for his earlier unrewarded attempt, and, despite the difficult angle, Livett had no problem in slotting over the extras.
Although they failed to trouble the scoreboard operator thereafter, they certainly did cause problems for the Wolves’ attack, limiting them to only two further converted tries, during the period in which more experienced sides usually rachet up a quite overwhelming score, in such seemingly uneven contests.
Even the final score went contrary to the context surrounding it. Having denied the visitors a score yet again, on the 79th minute, this time by preventing the prospective scorer from grounding the ball over the line, the Reds suffered the cruel twist of fate of having a well-intended pass to the right flank intercepted, leading to a winning margin, which failed to reflect the true balance of the game.
It was, nevertheless, a great experience for all of the players making their debuts, and credit must also go to the more experienced members of the side, who similarly rose to the occasion to provide direction and support for the newcomers, thus making it a truly, all-round team effort.