Warrington 34 Salford 32 Match Report
The Salford Red Devils U19s College Academy were, sadly, eliminated yesterday from the knockout cup, in the cruellest possible round – the semi-final – when they went down to Warrington Wolves, who had the significant advantage of having secured the home advantage of Victoria Park.
On a fine, sunny afternoon, even with a strong breeze blowing along, and up the pitch, it was the noticeable slope, end to end, which had the greatest effect on proceedings on field, with the Wolves having its advantage in the first forty minutes.
In what proved to be a most enthralling and evenly balanced encounter, the lead changed hand on no less than four occasions. The entertainment factor was evident throughout, as the teams went almost turn-and-turn-about to score and thereby provided a total of thirteen tries, with the extra one going Warrington’s way.
It was they who opened the scoring, in the ninth minute, immediately after Salford second rower, Jimmy Shields, had been ruled to have grounded the ball short of the line, at the other end. There was no such doubt, though when prop, Euan Haynes, charged through to score to the left of the posts, and Charlie Glover converted to put the visitors ahead, 4-6.
It was however the sin-binning of loose forward, Glover, in the first half, followed by the complete dismissal of substitute Luke Isles, some twelve minutes from full time, both for dissent, which impacted significantly on the team’s aspirations to progress, with their hosts crossing twice in that first ten minute spell, to run up a 14-6 lead, on 30 minutes.
Fortunately, Glover’s return came in time for him to be able to convert George Charnock’s try, which pulled the Red Devils back into contention, and indeed, he added another two points, onto Shields’s this time more successful grounding, on 36 minutes, after Warrington had restored their eight-point advantage, a few minutes earlier.
So with the half-time score of 20 -18 to the Wolves, there was considerable optimism, within the Salford ranks that they could triumph, and indeed Haynes was most unfortunate to have the ball stripped from him over the line, in one of the first moves of the half. It was their opponents, however, who briefly increased their advantage to 24, following a Salford dropped ball on 46 minutes.
The Red Devils’ best spell by far came in a fifteen-minute spell, when three tries, from Josh Bentley, Ellis Kelly, and Charnock’s second, put them into a respectable, if not comfortable, 24-32 lead, with less than twenty minutes left.
Even though Warrington pulled back four points, it was not until the visitors’ numbers were depleted for the second time, that they were able to regain the lead with one final try in the corner, which, with the help of the wind, was converted from the touchline.
Regretfully, the much dreamed upon final against Castleford, therefore, must remain just that – a dream. A little more luck, at times, would not have come amiss, whilst having to cope a player short for a quarter of the game turns a hill into a small mountain. Remarkable and creditable, therefore, was the fact that they came so close to achieving that dream.