RESERVES GET RED DEVILS OFF TO A WINNING START

Salford 24  London 18                              Match Report

Salford Reserves got the club’s weekend of rugby off to a winning start, twice having to overturn leads of 12 and 6 points, against the visiting London Broncos, whilst also registering the first of a trio of victories, which were to mark what, for their Super League counterparts, was Round 13 of their season.

The intensity of the opening exchanges might very well have brought significant doubts to all those watching from the sidelines, with the size, might, and power of the Broncos’ pack gaining territory comprehensively, whilst the valiant efforts of their hosts were rather more restricted.

It was, therefore, no surprise when, in the eleventh minute, good progress down their right wing, followed by some extremely optimistic and daring offloads and passes, everyone of which stuck with its target recipient, brought the visitors their opening, converted try.

Things were beginning to look quite ominous for the Red Devils, eight minutes later, when a period of London pressure wore down the defence and enabled them to double their score.

With a number of absentees through injury, the Reds had been forced to look further afield to complete their squad for the match, and consequently former Red Devils, Joe Coop-Franklin and Jack Stevens, had been brought in on loan from Rochdale and Swinton, respectively.

This proved to be extremely fortuitous because both revelled in their return to their first home, and their contributions were most influential to the team and the outcome of the game, with left winger Coop-Franklin taking advantage of the visitors’ error from the restart after their second try and the subsequent possession gained, to zig-zag his way through their defence and score under the posts.  Kai Morgan’s easy conversion then halved the deficit to 6-12.

Not to be outdone, scrum half, Stevens, on 33 mins, set off on a similarly weaving run midfield, and, on straightening up, found fellow halfback, Morgan, alongside him to finish off the try.  His kick from in front of the posts drew the home side level for a 12-12 halftime scoreline.

Upon the restart the visitors immediately stepped up their intensity, once more, forcing a goal-line drop-out, from which they were able to restore their lead via a converted try, on 43 mins.

It was a mere four minutes, however, before Salford had eradicated this with possession in the visitors’ twenty-metre area providing Stevens with the opportunity to pick out second rower, Henry Davies, who promptly charged over, and Morgan slotting over the equalising goal.

Morgan’s kicking game reached its pinnacle, on 58 mins, when he put in a pinpoint end-of-set kick to right winger, Dan Harrison, who climbed above all contenders to put the Reds ahead for the first time, by four points.

What had become the tightest of arm-wrestles was eventually broken, three minutes from time, with a penalty goal from Morgan, but the game was far from over with the short restart being taken by the Broncos to set up a determined all-out attack on the Salford line.  The Red Devils stood firm, however, with debutant half-back, Sean Murray pulling off a Goliath act by not only stopping a rampaging London forward in full flight but hitting him so hard that the ball was spilled, and their last opportunity lost.

Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, was understandably most delighted with his charges and the way in which they overcame all the odds to claim the victory.

“The most pleasing thing about the game was the attitude of the players in twice overcoming deficits to earn the win.  Not only that, they also were astute enough to realise that they needed to change their own game, which clearly had not been working, and find another way to get the win.  They also had to find considerable resilience in their defence, throughout, to keep London from scoring, on many occasions.”

The performances, on their debut, of two academy players, Murray and James Shields, also brought him some great satisfaction, as did the debut of recent signing, Harvey Wilson.

“It was really quite a sticky game for them to make their debuts in but they all took their chance really well.  Jimmy Shields showed some really good signs and will remain in the squad now for the rest of the season, whilst Sean Murray won the game for us with that outstanding tackle, at the end.

“Harvey Wilson was undoubtedly the best of our middles.  He made some excellent tackles and backed that up with really hard tackles in defence.”

SALFORD

Ethan Fitzgerald, Scott Egan, Joshua Wagstaffe, Joseph Coop-Franklin, Kai Morgan, Jack Stevens, Jordan Brown, Finley Yates, Liam Cooper, Henry Davies, Charlie McCurry, Harvey Wilson

Interchanges

Sean Murray, James Shields, Alex Davidson, Daniel Harrison

18th Player: Leunbou Bardyel Wells

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