RED DEVILS’ PROGRESS EVIDENT IN PLAY OFF SEMI-FINAL

Leigh 28  Salford 10                         Match Report

In what was undoubtedly the most keenly contested of the four encounters between the ladies of the Salford Red Devils and their near neighbours, the Leigh Leopards, the home side were made to battle for every point before eventually progressing through to the final of Super League 2’s end of season play-offs.

Indeed, it was a considerable achievement for the Salford players to have been making an appearance in this stage of the competition in their very first season in Super League, when many a side would, in such circumstances, have more than likely been battling to avoid relegation.  Not so, the Red Devils, who had finished a most creditable fourth to travel to third place Leigh, in this, the semi-final.

Each of the three previous encounters had seen a noticeable narrowing in the differential between the two sides, and although the scoreline failed to reflect this, the outcome, this time, was in the balance right through to the final fifteen minutes, when the home side managed to find a couple of holes in what had been a magnificent defensive effort by the visitors.

Just how tight the game was going to be was evident from the outset, with both sides locked in an arm wrestle – in which neither side could gain dominance – the like of which had not existed in either the pre-season friendly or the two, home and away league fixtures.

It was, however, Leigh who opened the scoring in the 15th minute, as a result of their gaining a penalty near their own line, followed by a set-restart inside the Salford half, before working an overlap on the left flank with an unconverted try in the corner.

Unfazed by this setback, the Reds continued to muscle up in defence, repelling every Leigh onslaught and setting up line-testing attacks of their own.  One magnificent tackle by centre, Alex Simpson, prevented a near certain try, on 23 mins, and six minutes later she was most unfortunate to be denied a try of her own, when a prior tackle on her winger, Lauren Ellison, was adjudged to have been completed.

As so often seems to happen these days, a disallowed try at one end of the field led to a recognised try at the other, once again coming after another set-restart, with the successful goal-kick giving the Leopards a 10-0 lead, on 32mins.

Once again, the Salford defence was called into action with one of the biggest hits of the afternoon being affected jointly by Player of the Year, Brogan Evans, and fullback, Sage Bannister, on 36mins.  It was that both were able to combine timing and targeted body areas with such precision that made this so impressive.

Efforts such as this can certainly give a team an uplift, and this proved to be the case on this occasion.  A high, end-of-set kick by Demi Jones was dropped, thus gaining the visitors further possession with which they set up, second rower, Viki Kini to force her way over, on 39 mins, enabling Jones to narrow the half time margin to 10-6.

The inspiration that the score had brought the Red Devils was carried through into the second half, and a Leigh error in their own half, early in the tackle count, gave away possession, which Salford were able to use to set up captain, Louise Fellingham, for a try on 43 mins, not only to level the score, but to rattle the home side at the loss of their lead.

The arm wrestle, which had been so tightly fought in the opening period, reappeared as both teams sought once again to gain dominance, but this time the Salford players had developed a confidence which continued to force the Leopards into uncharacteristic errors, by their defensive efforts.  Left winger, Ellison, was prominent in this, in the way she made excellent decisions when faced on a number of occasions with an overlap, which, each time, she unerringly snuffed out.

The introduction from the bench of Becki Davies, who had had to spend the whole of the season recovering from surgery on a serious leg injury, added a new dimension to the side in both attack and defence, as she performed most promisingly, throughout the rest of the match.

A Leigh penalty, on 55 mins, however, was to prove the turning point in the game, as a change of direction from a strike player got her through the consequential space to score by the post to re-establish the Leopards’ six-point lead.

The Salford defence, nevertheless, continued to work overtime as their hosts rediscovered their composure.  Another try-saving tackle, this time from hooker, Taz Corcoran, on 61 mins, temporarily, saved the day, but the Red Devils were beginning to show signs of tiredness, and a handling error gave the home side the opportunity to secure the win with another try under the posts.

A well-earned, goal-line drop-out to Salford, on 70 mins, was unfortunately mis-fielded, and, direct from the resultant scrum, the ball was collected by one of the Leigh speedsters, who sprinted the seventy metres to the other end of the field to give the score-line a somewhat one-sided impression of what had been a tough, and most enthralling encounter.

SALFORD:

Sage Bannister, Katie Garry, Sam Evans, Alex Simpson, Lauren Ellison, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Summer Harris, Helena Walker, Victoria Kini, Brogan Evans

Substitute:

Sarina Tamou, Abi Collins, Hannah Wicks, Becki Davies

RED DEVILS RUE CLOSING MINUTES LAPSES

Salford Red Devils 12  Barrow Raiders 28          Match Report

Two tries to the visitors, in the last four minutes, gave the final score to this enthralling Super League 2 encounter a somewhat one-sided impression, with the Red Devils having had the better of the majority of the second half, though once again having to strive in order to affect this upon the scoreboard.

Evidence of the finely balanced way in which the game was to unfold was laid bare in the opening quarter, with both teams going set for set against each other, but with both defences competently coping with the questions being asked of them.

It was not until the seventeenth minute that the deadlock was broken, and it was in fact the Red Devils who opened the scoring with a converted try.  An interception by Taz Corcoran, in the Salford thirty, enabled them to make their way up field, and an excellent end-of-set kick from Louise Fellingham was regathered byPhoebe Partington, who sent the ball out to left winger Lauren Ellison who scored in the corner.  Demi Jones then did extremely well to land the goal from wide out.

It was a lead onto which the home side were able hold for ten minutes, until a sustained period of Raiders’ pressure from a number of repeat sets eventually brought about an equalising score.

The compounded energy expended in defence over the remainder of the half, with Barrow commanding possession for lengthy periods in such hot and sticky conditions, took its toll as the half wore on, and further converted tries, after relentless waves of attacks, brought further scores on 32 and 39 minutes, with the half time whistle coming immediately upon the conversion from in front of the posts, on the last of these.

The disappointment at the twelve point, 6-18, half time deficit, stirred the Red Devils to mount aan impressive opening to the second half.  A barnstorming thirty metre break by substitute Yaz Parton-Sotomayor was supported by the effervescent Brogan Evans to go over, between the posts, for a try once again converted by Jones.

Her try was only just and fitting reward for her efforts throughout the game, as indeed was the case with earlier scorer, Ellison.  With Evans, it was a case of probably the smallest forward in the league taking on the might of much bigger opponents with a gusto and bravery well beyond expectation. Ellison, for her part, made a contribution well in excess of that usually made by a winger, even in the modern game.

Equally so, Demi Jones, whose goal, and end-of-set, kicks regularly give so much to the side, was also involved in much of the work, both on, and off the ball, which so often goes unnoticed.

With their spirits therefore uplifted by being one converted try only, behind, the Salford players really got on top, and for at least half an hour not only held their own in defence, took the game to the visitors on attack, and did virtually everything other than register further points.  Steph Gray’s crossing the line but being prevented from grounding the ball, on 71 mins, was just one example of the pressure they brought to bear on the Raiders.

Eventually, however, energy supplies once again began to run out, and, just as in the closing stages of the first half, Barrow took command with two tries, the second of which was converted, to extend their lead by ten points, on the 75th and 78th minutes.

Despite the disappointment of the loss, our players can take some satisfaction for having kept in the game for by far the majority of it, which, with steadier finishing could have been mush closer still, in spite of those two half-closing lapses.  With Castleford as the next visitors to the Salford Stadium, next Sunday, the Red Devils have the opportunity to build on the foundations they laid this week, and hopefully earn themselves another win.

SALFORD

Hollie Jones, Liana Loleta, Alexandra Simpson, Stephanie Gray, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Emerald Hickey, Phoebe Partington, Helena Walker, Brogan Evans

Sunstitutes

Casey Naylor, Jessica Panayiotou, Darcey Price, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor

RED DEVILS REGROUP TO MATCH DOMINANT ROVERS

Salford 10  Featherstone 30                         Match Report

One of those purple patches, when a team gets on top and everything they attempt comes off almost spectacularly, came the way of Featherstone Rovers Ladies’ side, for a twenty minutes spell, around the middle of the first half of yesterday’s rearranged game at the Salford Stadium, enabling them to set their hosts a significant challenge for the remainder of the encounter.

But rise to that challenge they did, despite having fallen behind by twenty points, by 27 minutes, and the longer the game went on, the more they managed to get on a par, and at times beyond, their opponents.

There had been little to indicate any of this in the opening minutes, with both teams, settling into an arm wrestle, which seemed to favour neither side, but then suddenly, in the ninth minute three telling passes opened up an overlap on the Fev right wing, and inside support of the break   enabled them to cross for the first score of the afternoon.

It did not remain the only try for very long, with their pressing home their advantage to register back-to-back tries, with, this time, a converted try, on twelve minutes to take their advantage to ten points.

Whilst the somewhat stunned Salford players were then able to stem the tide temporarily, they struggled to match the strength and physicality of the Yorkshire side, who really bossed the show, though the Reds did have the satisfaction, on one occasion, of pushing the much bigger Featherstone pack off the ball, at a set scrum close to the Rovers line, giving them a rare opportunity to test the visitors’ goal-line defence.

It was, nevertheless, they, who were next to score, once again, capitalising, on twenty minutes, from a Salford error in taking an end-of-set kick, and then stretched their lead even further, seven minutes later, to 0-20.

With the writing on the wall, and a long afternoon imminent, it needed something quite special to stem the flow and turn things around.  Step forward Sage Bannister, one of Salford’s close season recruits, who has settled extremely well into the club, despite having come from a rugby union background.  The change to league though has certainly suited her, and her name has been mentioned in other previous reports, primarily for her defensive feats, at fullback.

On this occasion, however, it was her capacity to attack from deep, in the thirty-sixth minute, which was to be so significant.  Receiving the ball from a scrum twenty-five metres from the Salford line, she spotted a gap in the Fev defence, through which she shot and then outpaced all attempts to halt her over seventy-five metres, including those coming from defenders cutting cross field at her, to round the try line and score between the posts, for what was undoubtedly the try of the game, easily converted by Demi Jones.

It was just what was needed to rally the Salford troops, and the second half was a much more evenly fought encounter as a result, with the whole team picking themselves and breaking the stranglehold the Rovers had had on the game.   From that point on they gave as good as they got, and although the rewards came predominantly through near misses, they did add to their tally with a further try.

A clever, low, end-of-set kick through the line, by Louise Fellingham, stood up nicely for centre Alex Simpson, invariably among the try scorers, to take the ball and cross, on 66 mins, to take the Reds into double figures.

It almost led to back-to-back tries, two minutes later, when a tremendous break by prop, Darcey Price, set up good position for Steph Gray to go over, only for her to prevented from grounding the ball correctly, which, unfortunately, was also what had happened in the right-hand corner to winger Liana Leota, nine minutes after the restart.

Although the visitors were rather more clinical in their grounding, they were limited to only two further scores, which was half the number from the first half, and they were made to work much harder for their points as the Salford forwards increasingly matched their domination.

 The outstanding performance of second rower, Helena Walker, with what must surely have been her best performance of the season so far, was the highlight of the home pack’s endeavours.  Despite not having the physical attributes of size and power of the Rovers, she stood up to the might of them from the very outset making really strong carries, and mustering up, relentlessly, on defence with determined tackling on any opponent.

As the players continue to develop in their adapting to the significantly increased demands of life in Super League, this game might well turn out to be a point in the season when they learned how to deal with, and overcome, bigger and stronger opponents.

SALFORD

Sage Bannister, Liana Leota, Alexandra Simpson, Stephanie Gray, Lauren Ellison, Louise Fellingham, Demi-Lea Jones, Abigail Collins, Brogan Evans, Emerald Hickey, Victoria Kini, Helena Walker, Megan Condliffe

Substitutes

Yasmin Parton Sotomayor, Aoife McKenna, Phoebe Partington, Tamzin Corcoran, Darcey Price

RED DEVILS’ DREAM START NOT ENOUGH TO SEAL CHAMPIONSHIP

RED DEVILS’ DREAM START NOT ENOUGH TO SEAL CHAMPIONSHIP

Salford Red Devils 14  Oulton Raidettes 33                            Match Report

After the most wonderful inaugural season for Salford Red Devils ladies’ side, their hopes of finishing as champions were dashed, at the Provident Stadium Odsal, on Sunday last, when, despite getting off to a dream start, they lost their way in a disappointing second half, to go down to a more spirited and composed Oulton Raidettes team.

No-one would have remotely expected that in the early stages, however, with the Red Devils getting off to a dream, early start to proceedings, notching up ten points in as many minutes to send hopes of victory sky-high.

They gained early territorial advantage, having received the kick-off and then being awarded a penalty, and Steph Gray, returning to the team for the first time since breaking her wrist back in June, looked to have scored with her first touch of the ball, in the third minute.  The luxury of having attendant touch judges, however, worked contrary to her hopes, with the near side official ruling a forward pass in the build-up.

This was to matter little, however, with the Raidettes coughing up possession on the second tackle, and a swift move of the ball to the right put winger Lauren Ellison clear in acres of space, to score close in, to which Demi Jones added the conversion.

It was a mere six minutes before Ellison had doubled her account, following a beautiful, flowing passing move along the line giving her enough room to get in towards the corner, too far out for Jones to improve upon.

Comfortable as this all appeared – and there will have been many Salford fans sitting back and anticipating a Salford onslaught of tries – Oulton had hardly touched the ball, and this had been instrumental in the game to this point.

That all changed on the resumption with a Salford handling error in the own half of the field giving the Raidettes their first opportunity to test the Reds’ defence.  Well as this stood up to the challenge on this occasion, their opponents were able to maintain their field dominance, and on 21mins an end-of-set cross-field kick with a rather awkward bounce caught the Red Devils out and Oulton took advantage to open their account, 10-6.

The first sense that this was not going to be Salford’s day came ten minutes afterwards, when they twice were prevented from scoring tries which would have restored their lead and dominance.  For a second time, only three minutes after, Gray, playing on the left wing was denied by a melee of defenders forcing her over the touchline before she could ground the ball.

This misfortune was replicated five minutes later.  Demi Jones was first to the ball, following a loose pass from Oulton on the half-way line, and she twice kicked ahead only to be thwarted by the bounce of the ball in the in-goal area.

A score on either of these occasions would have regained momentum for the Reds, but sadly, this was not the case and it was Oulton who drew level with the first of four tries coming down their right edge, thanks to some extremely well-angled running by their strike players.

Just as it looked as though the teams would be retiring to the dressing rooms level at half-time, events took a most surprising turn in the Red Devils’ favour.  With only three seconds remaining on the clock the ball emerged from the back of a scrum just inside the Salford half to Demi Jones, who fed it to stand-off, Louise Fellingham, by which time the hooter had sounded.  Fellingham responded with a marvellous kick which was hotly pursued by fullback, Alex Simpson, and several Oulton defenders, but Simpson’s pace got her to the ball first, which stood up nicely for her, and she crossed to put her side back in front, 14-10, at the interval.

The story of the second half was a quite different one, and one which was so completely foreign to the Salford Red Devils.  Careless handling coupled with a lack of concentration in defence crept in, and the Raidettes, who had quite clearly used their fortieth minute setback to motivate themselves further, took advantage of each Salford error, scoring a total of twenty-three points without reply, quite deservedly to take the spoils.

The seeds for this below par performance will probably have been sown in previous weeks, not least the one before, when they had suffered a number of injuries in the contest with an extremely physical Hull KR side.  Although there were not many who failed to make the squad this week, many will have been carrying considerable knocks, which inhibited them at times.

In addition, this encounter was the finale to a long and demanding season.  Indeed, our players had played more matches than any other side in the league, not just because of their winning run in the League Cup but also in being one of the very few sides to complete all their league fixtures.  Against a side high with the self-confidence in having been the only team in the league to have beaten Salford, it would seem that the Reds just had no more reserves of energy left to cope with the occasion.

Nevertheless, nothing, not even this disappointment, can take away the incredible success of the side, which has landed two of the three trophies – League Cup and League Leaders’ Shield – available and has provided such wonderful entertaining rugby, in the process.  They can, each and every one of them, hold their heads high and take pride in their totally unanticipated achievements, including participating in yesterday’s Final of this season’s play off competition.

SALFORD

Alex Simpson, Lauren Ellison, Sade Rihari, , Brogan Evans, Steph Gray, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Sarina Tamou, Tamzin Corcoran, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Helena Walker, Victoria Kini, Megan Condliffe

Substitutes:

Luci McKeown, Darcey Price, Hannah Wickes, Abi Collins, Casey Naylor, Gabrielle Chaplin, Eponine Fletcher

RED DEVILS LADIES MAKE IT TO GRAND FINAL

Salford Red Devils 24  Hull KR 4                  Match Report

In less than twelve months from their formation, the Salford Red Devils ladies side have, sensationally, secured a place in the Championship Grand Final, at Odsal Stadium, home of the Bradford Bulls, this coming Sunday afternoon, in what will be a Double Header with the League 1 Grand Final, and in so doing have put themselves in line for the opportunity to take the Championship Treble, consisting of League Cup, League Leaders’ Trophy (both already in the bag), and Grand Final Champions.

With it, of course, goes promotion to Super League 2, which has been their objective throughout the season, and they could not have wished for a tougher match to prepare themselves for Sunday’s contest with Oulton – the one and only team to have taken points from the Red Devils all season – than this home semi-final against Hull KR.

From a team languishing in the bottom pair of the Championship table, and the side against whom Salford had twice ratcheted up over forty points, the Humbersiders had come with a sudden late rush to take fourth spot and thus earned the right to travel to the A J Bell to contest the one place available for the winners.

The side which turned out on Sunday afternoon, however, bore little resemblance to that which had been so heavily beaten, back in mid-July, in the Double Header prior to the men’s fixture with Catalans, resulting from what must have been an really intensive and successful recruitment drive, for which they deserve great credit.

From their sheer size alone, it was obvious that this was going to be an extremely tight, and keenly fought, encounter, with no second chances for the vanquished, and so it proved to be, with the visitors fired up to extract revenge for their pummellings in the league fixtures, and physicality being the means by which they intended to accomplish this.

It certainly appeared to take the home side by surprise, and they were almost immediately put on the back foot through the loss of fullback, Luci McKeown, from injury in one of the first tackles of the game.  That was to set the tenor for the rest of the game, and in the weeks and months to come this game will be remembered more for the number of lengthy stoppages, owing to injuries to players from both sides, than for anything else.

It was the visitors though who sustained the majority of these, but those to the Salford players were possibly the more serious, with Kayleigh Bradshaw having to be taken to hospital by ambulance with a bad knee injury, which will undoubtedly rule her out of the final on Sunday, alongside a number of others, who were forced to retire and take no further part in the action.

It took the Yorkshire side only a few minutes to take control of the game, with an abundance of possession and good field position, which saw their hosts securely penned in their own quarter for well over twenty minutes, and it was in the tenth minute that they opened the scoring with a try in the right-hand corner, from an end-of-set, cross-field kick from the left.

At the time, it looked to be only a matter of time before their four-point lead would be increased, but that was the crucial thing; despite continuing to dominate as they did, they were prevented from making any additions to the scoreboard, close as they came to doing so.

It was the Red Devils’ last ditch, desperate, but thoroughly effective goal line defence, which so thwarted them, and, as each scoring opportunity came to naught, they began to lose a little confidence.  Moreover, the Reds stepped up their own performance in possession, and slowly, at first, a swing in momentum began to emerge, albeit merely redressing to some extent the imbalance of that lengthy first period.

When the swing in dominance eventually did come, however, it came quite suddenly.  A Salford penalty for a Robins’ off-side at a play-the-ball in the 31st minute, led to their first clean break from Sade Rihari, which gave them their first opportunity to attack the Hull line.  It was then an individual run by Alex Simpson, now reverted to fullback, which saw her weave cross-field around several defenders until she ran out of anyone else to beat, crossed the try line and then ran back towards the posts to score between them.  Demi Jones’s conversion put them in front for the first time on 33 mins.

Four tackles on from the restart, and an incredible fifty metre break by dummy-half, Brogan Evans saw her dart through the line and then outpace every pursuing defender to score between the posts, and Jones’s conversion had then doubled the score, all within a mere three minutes.

One can only imagine how demoralising the visitors must have found this turn of events, while for the Salford players, they visibly rose to the opportunity, especially at the resumption for the second half, when they literally camped out in the Robins’ twenty metre area, adding their second sucker punch by means of Lauren Ellison’s 51st minute interception try, which took everyone, possibly even herself,  by surprise, but grounding as she did between the uprights, brought the score, with Jones’s conversion, to 18-4.

Things were looking considerably more comfortable from then on, and Louise Fellingham took the game completely beyond the opposition, seven minutes later, when the ball was moved along the line to the right and she cut through the line to score.  Jones, with her most challenging kick of the afternoon was equal to the task, and incredibly, successfully kicked her fourteenth, consecutive, kick-at-goal, over recent weeks.

It was not in the goalkicking duties alone that she was outstanding, for both she and halfback partner Fellingham had contributed so much to the victory throughout.  The latter had been involved in several crucial try-saving tackles, and had taken the ball up to the line on numerous occasions, before feeding it to her supporting teammates.

Jones had shown some quite remarkable touches, not least trapping an awkwardly bouncing ball from a kick-off, soccer-style, to secure possession for the Reds.  As always, she showed a canny eye for the right person in the line to pass to, and her end-of-set kicks had the opposition constantly rattled in having to deal with them.  Little wonder, therefore, that the pair were named jointly as Players of the Match.  Helena Walker, in the second row, meanwhile, had clearly had her best game of the season, and she too, along with so many others had contributed much to the victory..

So, it is onward to Bradford, this weekend, but with the job thus far, only half done.  Much depends not only on their performances, on Sunday afternoon, but also the efforts of the backroom staff to enable as many of the injured as possible to take the field on the day.  Good Luck to them all.  The deserve efery success, so let us just hope they get it!

SALFORD

Luci McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Sade Rihari, Alex Simpson, Katie Garry, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Abi Collins, Brogan Evans, Megan Condliffe, Helena Walker, Victoria Kini, Sarina Tamou

Substitutes:

Hannah Wicks, Laura Bent, Casey Naylor, Gabrielle Chaplin, Eponine Fletcher, Kayleigh Bradshaw

Acknowledgement

Sean Monks Omaga Photography, for above photograph showing Victoria Kini making a hit-up, supported, from left to right, by Brogan Evans, Louise Fellingham, and Sade Rihari

RED DEVILS BEAT THE CLOCK

Salford Red Devils 92 Widnes 0                   Match Report

Whatever way you look at it, scoring ninety-two points in a single match is an incredible achievement.  Even scoring eighty requires some doing.  This latter tally works out at a point a minute, or to put it another way, one converted try every six minutes or one uncoverted try every four minutes, and when you factor in that attempted goalkicks, whether successful or not, take between two and three minutes each, that leaves precious little time left in which to achieve the requisite number, not to mention the periods, brief as they might be, when the opposition have had the ball.

When, therefore, you take account of the two additional scores needed for the remaining twelve points our players’ achievement was quite exceptional.  True, the firm, dry conditions were favourable, but temperatures well over thirty degrees would have over-faced many a willing team.  You have to be totally resolute to keep going in such heat.

True, also, that Widnes were missing a number of regular players, and were thereby a weakened side from the one which the Red Devils faced at Widnes, at the back-end of June.  Not that you would have known that from their first foray into the Salford twenty area, shortly after Louise Fellingham had put Salford in front after collecting the ball on the bounce, from their first end-of-set kick, after only one minute, and then Demi Jones having kicked the goal.

For the next six minutes, though, the Reds were penned on their own line facing three full sets of six, as they were forced to concede two goal-line drop-outs, and if the visitors had been going to score a try, they needed to have done it at that point, because there were going to be few other opportinities.

Their kick over the try line, at the end of their third set was just a little too hard with the home side then regaining possession with a twenty-metre tap-restart, and almost immediately a clean break by centre Sade Rihari, who went just short of the remaining eighty before most unselfishly handing on to the supporting Taz Corcoran, who had been alongside her for the duration, to finish off the try, which Demi Jones again converted.

The fourth tackle of the next set saw Sarina Tamou break clear, slip the ball to Jones, who, in turn fed it to Brogan Evans, who scored wide out, but not too far out that Jones could not convert it to make the score 18-0, after only eleven minutes.

From that point on the floodgates opened, with tries coming thick and fast in the 21st, 24th, 28th, 33rd, and 37th minutes, to ring up a half time score of 50 points, and thereafter at fairly regular intervals throughout the second half.  In all a total of sixteen tries was scored.  Of those, two scores by Alex Simpson really stood out, the first being by means of a most classy run for a purely individual try, and then her finishing off some bewildering inter-passing with Rihari, in the build up to the second.

Jones, meanwhile, was in wonderful form with the boot, slotting the goalkicks over from all over the field to all but two attempts.

Far from being askance of such a high score, however, it is important not only to regard this as a victory over the opposition and the clock, but also a display of all the elements of character upon which the players had to draw in order to attain it: honesty, integrity, determination, resolve, dedication, commitment, togetherness, not to mention the talent of athleticism, all of which were prevalent throughout the encounter, and which are so abundant throughout the squad.

Now, they have a ten day break for them all to recuperate ahead of their home fixture against Hull FC, on Thurs 25th, prior to the equivalent men’s fixture later in the evening.

Scorers

Tries: Ellison (4), Corcoran (3), Evans (2), Simpson (2), Fellingham, Kini, Rihari, Tamou, Jones

Goals: Jones (14)

SALFORD

Alex Simpson, Lauren Ellison, Sade Rihari, Brogan Evans, Eponine Fletcher, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Darcey Price, Helena Walker, Viki Kini, Sarina Tamou

Substitutes:

Hannah Wicks, Abi Collins, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Casey Naylor, Laura Bent, Gabrielle Chaplin

ACKNOWLDGEMENT

Sean Monks, Omaga Photography, for above photograph showing Alex Simpson in full flight for the first of her two tries

RED DEVILS REVEL IN THAT ZERO

Dewsbury Rams 0  Salford Red Devils 54                                Match Report

Just about the last thing anyone would want, on finding themselves part way between Cup semi-final and Final, with only a week to go, is to come up against the very team of which they had disposed, in the semis, two weeks earlier.

Not only that, but to have to face them on their own pitch, when the recent encounter had been on home turf, in what was an extremely bruising and highly competitive contest, might well have unsettled many a team.  Then, on top of all that, there was the absence, through injury, of two important strike players, Lauren Ellison, and long-term absentee, Steph Gray.

Yet, while all of these issues might, to many of us seem a little disquieting, the players of the Red Devils ladies’ team were not only totally undaunted by the challenge, they had been positively relishing the chance to turn out and overcome that challenge for which everything seemed to be conspiring to compound.  And how well they did overcome them, with a total of ten tries (7 in the first half and 3 in the second) and seven goals bringing a grand total of fifty-four points.

What was even grander was the fact that they prevented the opposition from scoring at all.  One week earlier, they had determined, at half time, to keep their then opposition, Hull KR, nilled, but had slipped up in this aim, allowing them one solitary break, which brought the Robins a converted try.

On this occasion, however, there was to be no such slip, and the final whistle came with their line unbreached – a quite remarkable achievement for any team, especially in an away fixture in Yorkshire, and against a team which would still have been smarting over their ejection from the League Cup, a week earlier.

So how did the team, which had caused the Red Devils those difficulties in their 18-8 semi-final contest away from home, come to suffer such a hefty defeat, at home, a week later?  The answer lies, not so much with Dewsbury, who were virtually unchanged from two weeks ago, but with the Red Devils.

The first half had barely got underway, and they had scored three tries without the Rams actually having had hold of the ball, their sole contribution to the game being their four kick-offs, alongside as much tackling as they could muster.

The Salford handling was absolutely splendid, with every pass not only finding its mark but being delivered at a speed well in excess of previous matches, and with each one sticking, so that they dominated possession, not just in this opening period but right through the first half.

Seven tries in forty minutes tells its own story, and each one also leads to yet another set of six from the restart.  Little wonder, therefore, that, as the half progressed, the degree of energy which the home side had had to expend in just endeavouring to stem the flow of seamless attacking moves thrown at them, had been sapped to the limit.

Centre, and regular try scorer, Alex Simpson was first on the scoreboard and she was joined in the list of first half try scorers by Luci McKeown (2), Casey Naylor, and newly signed debutant, Sade Rihari (3) also operating in the centre.  Demi Jones was successful with five of her seven conversions to clock up the half time score of 0-38.

The second half was a little more competitive with Dewsbury gaining ,more of the ball, and testing the Reds’ defence somewhat.  That the Salford players were equal to this, however, is reflected in the final score, but with less possession of their own, they were limited to three tries, from player of the match, Brogan Evans, Louise Fellingham, and Demi Jones to which she also added one of the two conversions of the half.

So now all eyes have turned to the League Cup Final, this coming Sunday, when the Salford Red Devils will face Orrell St James, at Orrell, KO 3pm.  We must all now wish them every success on the day, whilst marvelling at their considerable achievement, already, in winning through to the final stage in such a short spell of playing together as a team. GOOD LUCK LADIES!

SALFORD

Luci McKeown, Jena Monks, Sade Rihari, Alex Simpson, Brogan Evans , Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Abi Collins, Tamzin Corcoran, Megan Condliffe, Vicki Kini, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Sarina Tamou,

Substitutes:

Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Casey Naylor, Darcey Price, Helena Walker, Laura Bent, Gabrielle Chaplin

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Sean Monks, Omaga Photography, for headline photograph showing Casey Naylor’s success in grounding the ball.

RED DEVILS ROMP INTO FIFTIES

Watch the full game on RDTV

Salford Red Devils 58  Hull KR 6                  Match Report

Salford Red Devils’ ladies’ team, celebrated their first league game at the A J Bell, in Sunday’s Double Header by completing the double over Hull KR, whilst simultaneously making it a treble in all matches against Hull sides this season, doing so in style by running in a total of eleven tries and kicking seven goals.

Those supporters, who arrived at the stadium in time to witness any of it, will now know just why the team has become possibly the most feared and highly respected in the league, not so much by the sheer size of the scoreline, but by the extremely high quality of the rugby they produce, especially for a team which has been together only a matter of months.

The visiting Robins must have been approaching the encounter with at least a little trepidation after their 46-4 undoing, at the Sewell Group Craven Park Stadium, earlier in the season, and their greatest fears must have been realised, when their hosts opened up the scoring with no more than sixty seconds on the clock, with a try from centre Steph Gray, in the corner, after the ball had been moved slickly along the line to the right.  Demi Jones’s superb touchline conversion was the first of six out of six successful first half kicks.

The Humbersiders did regroup in the face of this setback and for the following fifteen minutes successfully stemmed the tide of attacks, while producing some challenging assaults of their own. It eventually came down to fullback, Luci McKeown, choosing her moment to insert herself into the line, as the ball was moved once more along the line, to shoot through a gap she had espied and race round to score under the posts.

A storming break from substitute, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, on almost her first touch of the ball, laid the foundation for Louise Fellingham’s try, when the halfback cut in at an angle as the ball was moved once again to the right, and by the time second rower, Kayleigh Bradshaw had forced her way over, on the lefthand side, the Red Devils were keeping up with the clock, having scored 24 points in the same number of minutes.

Abi Collins then fended off several attempts to tackle her on her way to the line, ensuring that the thirty-minute mark was reached with thirty points on the board.  The first half concluded with a great pass putting McKeown through for her second score, with Bradshaw taking over the goalkicking equally successfully, to notch up a 36-0 half time score.

By the time the second half was sixteen minutes old, fans must have been thinking that the game had turned into the Tamzin Corcoran show, as the Reds’ dummy-half ran riot setting up no less than three tries.  Her diagonal runs from play-the-balls near the line followed by passes to Gray, almost always put the speedster over for tries.  On 43 mins, however, she did much the same but without the pass, instead clinging hold and racing over herself.

Three minutes later, she repeated the operation, but this time with the usual pass to Gray for her second score, and then on 56 mins, she sent out a wide pass to Player of the Match, left centre, Alex Simpson, whose own clever changes of direction have been duly reported previously, and she successfully produced one such again, to take the score to 48-6.  As with all but the final try of the afternoon, successful conversions throughout the second forty seemed remarkably difficult to come by, and the team had to be satisfied with four points each for the others.

At half time, they had set themselves a target of keeping the opposition to nil, but their hopes of this were completely dented, on 50 mins, when a somewhat lethargic response to an individual break, from within the Robins’ half,  brought the visitors a try between the posts.

When, consequently, ten minutes later, they gained a further considerable amount of possession, pinning Salford on their own line for two full sets, the Reds were determined not to succumb for a second time, and ensured that they kept their line intact with a whole-hearted defensive effort.

The final fifteen minutes saw two further tries from Bradshaw and Simpson, both of them completing their brace, while Jones rounded off the scoring with one final successful conversion.

Sadly, the game ended on a considerably sourer note, with highly talented Steph Gray sustaining a quite serious injury to her arm, which is going to keep her out of the team, probably for the rest of the season. Steph has become an integral part of the team, over the season, and has produced some game-winning scores, notably in the home league victory over Dewsbury Rams.  She is going to be greatly missed by her teammates in coming matches, and everyone connected with the team wishes her a successful, and speedy, recovery.

Watch the full game on RDTV

SALFORD

Luci McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Steph Gray, Alex Simpson, Katie Garry, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Darcey Price, Tamzin Corcoran, Megan Condliffe, Vicki Kini, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Sarina Tamou,

Substitutes:

Brogan Evans, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Casey Naylor, Abi Collins, Helena Walker, Jenna Monks, Hanna Wicks

Acknowledgments

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Sean Lunt, Omaga Photography, for headline photograph showing Kayleigh Bradshaw scoring, with Taz Corcoran (left) and Player of the Match, Alex Simpson looking on

Media Consultant – Gabby Chaplin

RED DEVILS REACH LEAGUE CUP FINAL

Salford Red Devis 18  Dewsbury Rams 8                 Match Report

In their very first season in the game, Salford’s women’s side defied all the odds by reaching the final of the League Cup, by defeating Dewsbury Rams, in the semi-final at Salford Roosters ground, yesterday.

Hopes had always been high that this might prove to be the case, particularly with home advantage and the knowledge that they had already beaten the visitors in an earlier league encounter, when a number of senior Salford players had been missing.  It still proved, however, as with most semi-finals, to be an extremely tightly fought game, with long spells when the two teams were locked in arm wrestles with each other.

It was, in fact, the visitors, who opened the scoring, crossing out wide for an unconverted try, but the Red Devils were quick to counter with a try, converted by Demi Jones.  Those Taz Corcoran diagonal scoots are becoming most adept in throwing opposition defences into some confusion as each one attracts the attention of the defenders before a neat pass is given, this time to Steph Gray, who glided through to score, putting the home team into a lead which they never lost thereafter.

Five minutes later, a break by fullback, Luci McKeown was well supported by Alex Simpson, also playing in the centre, for her to go over towards the left corner, giving Jones the hardest by far of her kicks, which she did with impeccable accuracy, to ring up a 12-4 lead.

That they were unable to build further on this, during the remainder of the half, was testament to the determination of their visitors, coupled with some little misfortune – Lorraine Ellison had a try ruled out for a forward pass, and McKeown was tackled into touch just short of the try line, after a fine break on fielding an end of set kick – and extremely wearing conditions in the heat with water breaks midway through each half, and a bone hard pitch which sent up clouds of dust, on impact.

It was greatly in contrast to this, therefore, that they opened the second half with a try direct from the restart.  Player of the Match, Louise Fellingham, who as captain had led her team by example yet with support and encouragement throughout the game, received the ball from the kick and then, from a sideways run, layed it off to McKeown, who raced through to score between the posts.  After having landed one from close to the touchline. Jones had no difficulty in keeping her hundred percent success rate with the boot to take the score to 18-6.

Although this concluded Salford’s scoring for the afternoon, the two sides continued to battle it out in an arm-wrestle, and indeed the Red Devils were made to fight every minute of the way to retain their hold on the game.

Being put under considerable pressure, when in possession, they were forced into an above average number of handling errors, which promptly brought even more defensive work, while the intense heat was most energy sapping.  Nevertheless, their defence on so many occasions proved equal to the challenge, succumbing only in the final minute of play to the Rams’ late consolation try.

Nothing, however, could dent the euphoria with which the team greeted the final whistle, and it would be nigh on impossible to overstate their outstanding achievement of progressing into the final, on 31st July.  For a group of individuals to come together, many of them as strangers to one another, and then to be successful in such a high-pressured situation as a cup semi-final, is most remarkable.

Their opponents in the final will be the winners of the other semi-final between Hull KR and Orrel St James.  That is for later, however.  For now, let us all just enjoy their wonderful achievement, and celebrate this, their most recent success.

SALFORD:

Luci McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Steph Gray, Alex Simpson, Katie Garry, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Abi Collins, Tamzin Corcoran, Darcey Price, Viki, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Megan Condliffe

Substitutes:

Hannah Wicks, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Brogan Evans, Casey Naylor, Jenna Monks, Eponine Fletcher, Helena Walker

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Sean Monks, Omaga Photography, for above photograph

Media Consultant – Gabby Chaplin

RED DEVILS REPEAT HUMBERSIDE ROMP

On the back of their magnificent victory at Hull KR, a month ago, the Red Devils returned to Humberside, yesterday, to chalk up an equally impressive result, this time on the western side of the River Hull, against the black & whites of Hull FC.

As has been the case with a number of their outings, the Salford players were a little slow in getting into their stride, and it was the home side which had the better of the early exchanges, having ample possession, with which to challenge the visitors’ defence, over the first ten to fifteen minutes.

The Red Devils were, nevertheless, able to keep their opponents at bay, although not without the adversity of losing their highly-rated fullback, Luci McKeown, quite early in the proceedings, with a leg injury, from which she did not return.  As a consequence, some hasty rearrangements to the line-up needed to be made, with her replacement, Brogan Evans coming on as hooker, Taz Corcoran moving to loose forward, both of whom made considerable impact on the game, and centre, Alex Simpson, taking over at fullback, from where she scored a most spectacular try.

The team had spent the week’s training sessions undertaking work to increase the intensity of both their attack and defence, particularly, but not exclusively, among the forwards, who were also buoyed by the return of Megan Condliffe, who had missed the last two matches.  The considerable success of all this became evident as the game progressed, with the pack laying the foundations of the victory with their strong drives up the field, and the hard tackles with which they hit their opponents.

It was as a consequence of this that almost all of their eight tries came initially from those hard metres they made in the early parts of sets, which sucked the Hull players into the middle of the field, whereupon the Reds were able to send the ball out wide to the backs, who then had sufficient room to combine with one another to produce the collection of tries, which ensued.

One in the first half, which was slightly different from the others, however, was their second, which came as a result of slick, left to right, cross-field, handling, which eventually produced an overlap for right wing Lauren Ellison to go over.

The one drawback from their overall style of play on the day, was that not a single try was scored near the posts, making the possibility of a conversion somewhat remote, and indeed they were successful in only two of their kicks, one each from Kayleigh Bradshaw and Demi Jones, both of which were in the first half, to ring up a 20-0 half time score alongside tries from Louise Fellingham (2), Sarina Tamou, and Ellison’s above mentioned score.

With Salford’s first touch of the ball in the second half, Alex Simpson went much of the length of the field, after taking the ball from Hull’s end-of-set kick, to continue the succession.  To complement their earlier successful goalkicks, Jones and Bradshaw also crossed, followed by Steph Gray to complete the set.

With the Yorkshire side still without a point, hopes were high that the Reds could return home having secured their first nilling of an opposition.  To their credit, however, Hull regrouped for one last minute assault on the Salford line, and succeeded in going over for a try close enough to the posts for it to be turned into a six-pointer, which meant that the nilling would have to wait ‘til another day.  That, though, certainly did not detract from the most impressive, and highly entertaining, performance of the Salford side, who will now travel to Widnes, next Sunday, for what is expected to be one of the most keenly fought encounters of the season.

SALFORD:

Luci McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Steph Gray, Alex Simpson, Eponine Fletcher, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Darcey Price, Sarina Tamou, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Vanessa Hadley

Substitutes:

Laura Bent, Brogan Evans, Casey Naylor, Abi Collins, Helena Walker

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Sean Lunt, Omaga Photography, for above photograph showing, from left to right, Salford’s Demi Jones, Brogan Evans, and Abi Collins

Media Consultant – Gabby Chaplin

Sign up to the official newsletter