RED DEVILS STORM TO SEASON’S FIRST VICTORY

Salford Red Devils 44  Bradford Bulls 4                         Match Report

Salford Red Devils Ladies celebrated their return to Championship league fixtures with a grand forty-point victory over visiting Bradford Bulls, yesterday at the Salford Stadium.

After a three-match spell of being tested to the limit by Super League opponents, in the knock-out Cup competition, the Reds found some delight at being paired with a team, over which they quickly gained the mastery.

It was not just the scale of the victory, however, that was so noteworthy, even more so was the quite significant improvement they showed in their performance over the whole eighty minutes.  They started off playing on attack much as they had in previous games –  as individuals doing their own task in isolation – but as the game progressed they started to jell with one another and to apply some of the ploys which they have obviously learned and practised in training, and with success.

So much so, that by the later stages of the second half they were moving forward together as one line, passing the ball freely and accurately, and really looking every inch like a team, providing entertainment to the spectators who delighted in what they were watching.

It was in the eight tries they scored, and the way in which they were procured, however, that clearly highlighted their development through the game.  It was as early as the second set that the resultant tap from a penalty saw second-rower, Summer Harris, surge through a gap, as first receiver, and race some sixty-five metres to the try-line rounding the fullback, in the process to open the scoring and set the hallmark for the rest of the game.

Six minutes later, skipper, Alex Simpson scored another individual try this time from a pass – not from a Salford player but from an overly ambitious offload from a Bulls player – giving Simpson a clear run to the posts.  Goalkicker, Demi Jones, who had been off the mark with her first attempt made no mistake this time and went on to kick six out of her eight attempts – two from the touchline – with the only other miss coming on her last attempt of the first half.

Still, the Red Devils found rich pickings from exploiting gaps in the visitors’ defence, and next it was fullback, Michelle Davis, who not once, but twice, on 22 and 28 mins, made long range breaks, the second of which looked as though it were going to bring her an incredible one-hundred-metre try, her having first taken the ball between her posts. 

Heartbreakingly, she was caught from behind a couple of metres short of the line.  ‘Heartbreaking’, not so much for the benefit it would have done for the team at the time, but because she so richly deserved it having eluded, and even shrugged, off tackles on her way there.  Sadly, a bigger opponent, with a longer stride, was able to get within arms-length of her and pull her backwards, away from the line.

She did, nevertheless, have the satisfaction of knowing that her breaks both led to tries.  The first came with Simpson’s second of the afternoon, out wide on the right, when the ball was moved to the right directly from a scrum, to stretch the lead to 16-0, thanks also to Jones’s great conversion from near the touchline.

Although the Bulls were able to reduce their arrears with an unconverted try on their right edge, on 30 mins, this was quickly eradicated three minutes later, when good hands from Jones and Davis got right winger, Marnie-Lee Kelly over in the corner, to bring a 20-4 half-time lead.

The increase in confidence that that scoreline brought, and the cohesion that working together as a unit gave them in continuing to move the ball around, enabled them to score four further tries, all from good teamwork.

Sam Evans, having moved from half-back to centre was first to benefit from good approach work, on 50 mins, coming round towards the posts after having crossed, further out.

Prop, Emily Bagguley, was held up near to the posts, on sixty minutes, and from her play-the-ball slick hands succeeded in getting the ball to the right edge, where substitute, Jen Myler, crossed in the corner.

Possibly the slickest of all the build-ups came from Simpson’s beautiful, slipped pass, four metres out, coupled with Davis’s excellently timed run to receive it, which put the now stand-off half over between the posts, on 69 mins.

Undoubtedly, the most complex move of all came two minutes from the end, when a number of players moved the ball from left to right where Jones’s pass went to her right side, second rower, Myler, whose most cleverly angled run enabled her to complete her brace.

Congratulations then to all the players, who put the difficulties of the past weeks behind them, took control of the game from the outset, and achieved a victory well beyond most people’s remotest expectations.  Having made such huge strides, it is imperative that they now build on that, and endeavour to replicate much of it in future games, where they might well be required to overcome somewhat greater adversity than on this occasion.

SALFORD

Michelle Davis, Emily Webb, Becki Davies, Alex Simpson, Marnie-Lee Kelly, Sam Evans, Demi Jones, Emerald Hickey, Alice Connolly, Emily Bagguley, Jadine McVernon, Summer Harris, Sophie Morris

Interchanges: Abi Collins, Jen Myler, Darcey Price, Lydia Egan

18th Player Natasha Routh

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