RED DEVILS START SUPER LEAGUE WITH A WIN

Salford Red Devils started their Super League career in style, in yesterday’s opening round visit to Castleford, with a reasonably comfortable victory over the Tigers, at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.  Any visit into Yorkshire which results in a win is most commendable, and their near total dominance throughout the first half was most impressive.

It was in only the second minute of the game that they went in front, following a Castleford handling error in their own half, and on the back of good carries on the first four tackles they were able to send the ball along the line to the left where fullback, Luci McKeown, cut through to score and open the Reds’ account. 

Unfortunately, her attempted conversion hit the post.

Scoring tries, however, came rather more readily and it was only a matter of five minutes from the resumption that they went over again.  A quite noteworthy set, in which the Red Devils, thanks to their forwards in particular, went a full seventy metres down field to force a goal-line drop-out, set up further possession in an ideal part of the field to attack again. 

This time, it was second rower, Helena Walker who touched down in the right-hand corner to double the Salford lead, but sadly it was to turn out to be one of her last contributions to the match, as she was forced to leave the field a few minutes later after sustaining a leg injury in a tackle.

Completely against the run of play, in the 16th minute, Cas, on one of their first forays into their visitors’ twenty-metre area, caught out the right edge defence, working an overlap on the wing for a try in the corner, thereby narrowing the score to 4-8.

The truly decisive period of the game, let alone the half, came in a ten-minute period, in the run up to the half hour mark, in which the Salford players took the score to 4-16, with two further tries. The first of these came direct from a scrum on the Tigers’ twenty metre line, with the ball being moved to the right.  On arrival in right centre Alex Simpson’s hands, she cut back inside, wrongfooting the Castleford defence, and enabling her to score by the posts.

That dummy-half, Taz Corcoran, was able to score her try merely by picking up the ball and taking only a couple of steps forward to place it over the line, was almost unbelievable, but there had been a speedy play-the-ball, and she had spotted the opportunity well.   Thankfully, the 4-16 half-time lead it opened up gave the team some cushioning for the second half.

Indeed, the lead might well have been even greater, when, in the final minute of the half, centre, Steph Gray went over in the left-hand corner, only for the wide pass to her to be judged to be forward.

This cushioning they had given themselves was to be needed, however, during the second half, when forms and fortunes were, surprisingly, reversed, and the early warning of this came within ten minutes of the resumption, when Castleford put together their best move of the game, to score, once again, in the left corner.

That it took Salford almost twenty minutes to eradicate that score was something of a surprise, but, in fairness, their second-half performance was well below that of the first forty, with a number of wayward passes going to ground and each error returning possession to their opponents.  The longer this went on the more the Tigers grew in confidence, and the more frustrated Salford seemed to become.

One element of the performance which really helped their cause though, was Sam Evans’s penalty kicks to touch, which gained remarkable distance with the two opportunities she was given, putting the team on the attack, when they had been unable to gain the position by other means.  

A one-on-one ball-steal by Alex Simpson, early in a Cas set, regained the Reds possession, and this time the ball was moved accurately and effectively to the left, where, to recompense her for her earlier disappointment, Gray straightened up the line to go over towards the left-hand corner, on 67 minutes, to calm any mounting nerves.

It still, nevertheless, required some determined and impressive defensive work for much of the remaining time, not least in the minutes leading up to the 73rd, when they had to defend no less than five repeat sets, mainly caused by penalties against over-eager defenders running offside.

Survive it all they did, though, and with a twelve-point winning margin, and their first ever two Super League points to bring back over the Pennines, it was a result to be celebrated, and will hopefully set them up for next week’s Women’s Challenge Cup tie against Featherstone Rovers.  Please note that the kick off for this game as been changed 12.00.

SALFORD:

Luci McKeown, Katie Garry, Alex Simpson, Steph Gray, Lauren Ellison, Louise Fellingham, Sam Evans, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Sarina Tamou, Helena Walker, Victoria Kini, Brogan Evans

REPLACEMENTS

Abi Collin, Hannah Wicks, Summer Harris, Emerald Hickey

RED DEVILS LIFT SILVERWARE IN INAUGURAL SEASON

RED DEVILS LIFT SILVERWARE IN INAUGURAL SEASON

Orrell St James’s 8  Salford Red Devils 20                                Match Report

Salford Red Devils ladies team defied all the odds that must have been stacked against their doing so, at the start of the season, by winning the League Cup, in this, their very first year, a mere eight months after their inception.

What an absolute triumph this is for a group who were still getting to know one another when the season kicked off, a mere five months ago, but in that time they have gelled together perfectly and developed into an almost unstoppable attacking force, seemingly against all opponents within their league.

How fitting it was, therefore, that their incredible accomplishment should have been achieved on the very day that the much-celebrated Lionesses put the whole concept of women’s sport into a far greater spotlight than it has ever been before.  They just happened to have been beaten to the punch by the Red Devils.

It was in a quite different manner, however, from virtually all their previous victories, to which the players had to adapt, in order to ensure they secured their just desserts.  Not on this occasion, then, was there to be any high-scoring, lavish, breath-taking attacking play; it was far too close for that, and closer even than the scoreline would suggest.  No, this was, foremost, a victory of character over adversity.

No-one can ever predict how a game will unfold, but just one look at the pitch was enough to portend that this would undoubtedly be a game of two halves, with an incline from end to end comparable with that at the infamous Mount Pleasant, Batley.

Having the advantage of the slope for the first half, the Salford players had the clear task of setting as high a score as possible in the hope of putting themselves out of sight by the turnaround – something which they had had plenty of practice of doing, over the course of the season.  To that end, the fact that it was they who kicked off down the slope, was extremely helpful, with the Orrell defenders losing the ball early in the first set, and consequently setting up the Reds with possession in great field position.

Indeed, the game was less than two minutes old when fullback, Luci McKeown, performed a timely pirouette, close to the line, to foil a couple of defenders to go over on the right-hand side, and that was even after Brogan Evans had been held up, under the posts.  As far as the goal kick was concerned, though, it mattered not that the kick was further out than it might have been, as Demi Jones was on target to turn the four into six.

Four minutes later, and with the Orrell team still having hardly touched the ball, a superb, wide pass by Taz Corcoran found the unmarked Alex Simpson, and the centre went through for the second score, this time too far out on the left for a successful conversion attempt.

Whether it was carelessness, or over-confidence, at this point, the ball was lost quite quickly after the resumption, and the opposition’s dearth of possession started to be balanced out, so it was not until the 23rd minute that the Red Devils were able to extend their lead.  Kayleigh Bradshaw was tackled virtually on the Orrell try-line, and her quick play the ball caught the defence out by the ball being moved to the blindside, where right centre, Sade Rihari, used her power and pace to get over for what was to be the final score of the half, extending their lead to sixteen points by Jones’s second conversion.

We have often said that a half time lead of eighteen points is quite overturnable, and there will have been many who had been hoping for rather more cushioning by further points, as the teams resumed for the second forty.  This, however, had been recognised by coach, Chris Bates, who had instilled upon is charges, that the fate of the trophy would now rest with the quality of their defence.

How right he was.  The Orrell St James players were completely familiar with the exigencies of their pitch, and how to use the slope to their advantage – only one of the adversities Salford were to face, and thankfully overcome, during the following forty, with the Reds pinned down in their own twenty metre area, for lengthy periods, desperately endeavouring to repulse the waves of attack hurled at them.

They had had a foretaste of this in the closing stages of the first half when they had been tirelessly, but unsuccessfully, tested by their opponents, who did, though, go close on a number of occasions.  Easy to do when your line speed is aided by a slope, but much more challenging to have to keep doing, up a hill.

Yet, with Bates’s instructions still ringing their ears, that is exactly what they did.  If it moved, it was tackled, and after an early foray with an attack of their own, they certainly had plenty of tackling to do.  Eight minutes of exceptional defence was eventually broken by Orrell’s first try, bringing the score to 16-4.

Fortunately, the Salford players still had enough energy left to launch a counter attack, and on 56 mins, Player of the Match, Riahari, cut through, drew the defence before sending out an excellently timed pass to her winger, Lauren Ellison, who crossed in the corner, restoring the 16 point advantage.

The remainder of the game was merely one set of Orrell attacks after another, as with so little ball, the Salford players appeared a little nervous on the few occasions it came their way, and consequently lost it, often, quite early in the tackle count.

So, ultimately, it was all down to the quality of the defence, thereafter, with Salford forwards as, always, having bearing the brunt of the work, as the Orrell forwards kept up constant drives at the Salford line.  Although they had their line breached on one further occasion, on 64 mins, and the final fifteen minutes  peppered with a few close shaves, time was gradually moving in favour of the Red Devils side, and indeed those sixteen points did prove to be unoverturnable.

So, the ladies got to bring back to Salford the first piece of silverware since they won the Championship Treble in 2008, and doing so in what was, for them, a most novel and unfamiliar manner.  Whole-hearted congratulations to them, and all those connected with the team, who have performed so marvellously, each in their own particular way.  Having won one trophy now, there is always the up-coming Championship Play Offs, in which to test themselves, later in the year.

SALFORD

Luci McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Sade Riahari, Alex Simpson, Katie Garry, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Abi Collins, Helena Walker,  Kayleigh Bradshaw, Brogan Evans

Substitutes:

Hannah Wicks, Jena Monks, Darcey Price, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Laura Bent, Casey Naylor, Gabrielle Chaplin

ACKNOWLDGEMENT

Steve McCormick – Headline photograph showing quality of Salford’s defence from Helena Walker, Darcey Price, and Brogan Evans

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

RED DEVILS RETURN TO WINNING WAYS

Salford Red Devils 22 Stanningley 16

Following two outings in which the Salford side have made rather slow starts to each game, in this latest encounter with visiting Stanningley, they went to the other extreme of scoring all but six of their twenty-two points in the combined first, five-minute periods of each half.  The return of four key players, who had missed the recent reversal at Oulton, buoyed the team for what was only their second home fixture.

The game had been underway for barely forty seconds when the visitors were dealt a severe blow, on the fourth tackle of the first set, in which one of their players was carried off having sustained a serious ankle injury, which required hospital attention.

It took a mere two minutes, after the resumption of play, for the Red Devils to open their account.  Good handling, from right to left, put fullback, Luci McKeown, in the clear down the left flank, and her onward pass to Alex Simpson, enabled the centre to make a most unexpected change of direction.  With everyone expecting her to go for the corner, she cut back inside at a surprisingly acute angle, where there was enough space for her to coast through and score by the posts, giving Demi Jones a simple conversion.

Retrospectively, to have scored so early, and seemingly so easily, was possibly not the best thing for the team, who, mistakenly as it turned out, assumed that they would be able to score almost at will.  In fairness, that was probably the assumption on the side-lines as supporters eagerly awaited a volley of scores.

Instead, however, when the stubborn Stanningley defence thwarted the next assaults on their line, an element of frustration crept in, which led to a number of handling errors, giving the visitors an ample supply of the ball.  The consequent growth in their self-belief made them more and more of a threat, and there were several close calls on the Salford try-line, most significantly when their left winger crossed in the corner, only for her opposite number, Lauren Ellison, to cause her to lose control of the ball, as she went to ground it.

Despite the seemingly incessant pressure they were under, the home side stood firm.  Their defence was tested on several occasions, yet they still managed to keep their line intact, and there were some really hard tackles, some of which forced a loss of possession.  Two of the more eye-catching came from second rower, Serina Tamou, who, herself, had to retire temporarily to the side-line with a hand injury, while the above mentioned try-saver, by Lauren Ellison, was only one of a number of hard hits she made on other players, some much bigger than herself.

The lack of any further score was, however, a matter of some concern, with the Red Devils having the benefit of the downward slope of the pitch.  Six points was barely a lead at all, and one would have expected that they would have been turning round at the interval, at least two or three tries to the good, if they were going to withstand the forays of attacks, which the visitors would surely send their way, when going downhill in the second half.

When, therefore, Salford were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, on 38 mins, they most sensibly chose to take the two points, but concerns must still have remained, over the interval, that this would be insufficient to win the game.

Early in the game as they had scored at the start, they were even quicker in the second half to do so.  Having received the ball from the kick off, the forwards made a series of four tremendous carries upfield to take the game to the Stanningley, twenty metre line where the ball was moved swiftly along the line to the right, via Louise Fellingham, Abi Collins, McKeown, and Taz Corcoran, to feed Steph Gray to extend their lead to twelve points.

The half time team talk had clearly been about making metres up the hill, when in possession, and from the resumption the forwards took over once again, until, from dummy-half thirty metres out, McKeown caught out the first line of defence with a scoot, before then rounding the fullback, to score under the posts, giving Jones an easy conversion.

Even at eighteen points down, the Stanningley team were not going away, and not having touched the ball in the half, were determined to make a game of it, once they did, when it became back to the hard graft of defence, with McKeown’s upending of her opposite number, in full flight down the field, being among the most notable.

Nerves, however, started to twitch as the half went on with the pressure on them growing, and it was no surprise when the visitors eventually got on the scoreboard at 18-6, on 52 mins, and then narrowed the margin further to 18-10, eight minutes later.

It was at this point when the team really showed its character.  As in the past, instead of panicking, they just took control, set up an attack with Casey Naylor using her power and strength to force herself over, after receiving a quick pass from Corcoran at dummy half, for her first try in a competitive game.

The twelve-point lead that this restored proved to be crucial, as yet again, Stanningley launched another successful attack to have the final say, on seventy-two minutes, but with Salford then holding out for the remainder of the game.

 

SALFORD

Lucy McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Steph Gray, Alex Simpson, Eponine Fletcher, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Darcy Price, Tamzin Corcoran, Abi Collins, Serina Tamou, Helena Walker, Laura Bent

Substitutes

Vannessa Hadley, Hannah Wicks, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor,  Casey Naylor, Jenna Monks

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to Steve McCormick for photograph, above,  showing Salford’s defence at its best, with, from left to right, Captain and Player of the Match Louise Fellingham, Abi Collins, Helen Walker, and Taz Corcoran

SALFORD’S WOMEN MAKE IT FOUR WINS IN A ROW

Hull KR 4  Salford 42                        Match Report

It does not seem to matter to whom you speak, pretty well any Super League player will attest to the difficulty of going to Hull KR and coming away with a win.  The two and a half hour journey, in itself, can be something of an endurance to be faced ahead of the game, and is certainly long enough for players to have stiffened up and be feeling slightly under par for the game.

That, however, certainly does not seem to have been the case, last Saturday, when Salford’s women’s team visited East Hull.  The team as a whole has been turning heads for the past few weeks, having been undefeated in all of their league games, winners in two out of their three nine-aside matches, and last week progressing to the semi-final of the League Cup.

One or two rather more sceptical of observers, given the reputation of the Sewell Group Craven Park Stadium, as being of a quite intimidating nature, with spectators close enough to the pitch to make their feelings felt to players and match officials alike, might well have been forgiven for expecting the team to struggle far more than in any other match so far.

So for them to take all of that in their stride, and then come out with a thirty-eight point winning margin, is quite incredible, and worthy of every word of praise that can be lavished upon them.  They were somewhat concerned that they made a slow start, with their being kept scoreless for fifteen minutes, but, once loose forward, Meg Condliffe, had fired them up with a tremendous hit on one of their opponents, there was no holding them, with points galore flowing freely, from that point onwards.

Two players, Steph Gray and Luci McKeown, scored hat-tricks, which, while justifiably being of great personal satisfaction to each of them, contributed greatly to the sides overall total.   Skipper, Louise Fellingham, also weighed in with a try, as did new recruit, Serina Tamou, who celebrated her arrival at the club by contributing to their biggest score of the season, so far.

There were five successful conversions, two of which came while Demi Jones was on field to take them, and McKeown proving to be an able deputy slotting over the remaining three.

A fifteen minute period towards the end of the first half virtually brought the game, as a contest, to its conclusion, with three stand out scores to relish.  The first of these came after a Salford interception enabled them to progress upfield, and Tamou showed the strength and power she would bring to the side with a ten metre charge at the home team’s line which no-one was going to stop.

Next name on the scorer’s list was McKeown, who fielded an end-of-set kick on her own twenty metre line, and then promptly went no less than eighty metres down the left flank for her first of the afternoon.  Almost unbelievably, that run heralded not just her own try but an immediate, subsequent one.

Direct from the restart, the ball was received by Fellingham, who set up Gray with a clear run to the line, along the touchline, for what was her second of the afternoon, having opened the team’s account a little earlier.  Coming, as it did, so immediately upon McKeown’s must have surely demoralised the opposing players who, nevertheless, did cross for their own try shortly afterwards.

Having been provider for one score, Fellingham was able to benefit herself from a second-half, clean break, which she backed up, and then, once in possession, ran a clever line to cross for a try of  her own.

Tries only come, however, as a result of tremendous hard work from other players throughout the squad, and it would be most fitting, after such a tremendous victory, to pay due respect to those who have the task of making the hard metres up the field, who take the hard knocks in contact, and who wear down their opponents, and themselves, with their no-stop tackling, when on defence.  Without their efforts, week in, week out, we would never be in a position to score tries, let alone bag eight in one match.

Attention now turns to this coming Sunday, when, once again, the team set off on their travels, this time on the much shorter journey into Yorkshire, to take on Oulton, in a rearranged fixture from the first weekend of the season.  The team now appears to have a winning formula for every game.  All they need to do is to stick with that through thick and thin for their rest of the season, and they can now always be confident that they can come through it with some success, at the end.

SALFORD

Luci McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Steph Gray, Viki Kini, Eponine Fletcher, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Darcey Price, Tamzin Corcoran Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Sarina Tamou, Megan Condliffe

Substitutes:

Laura Bent, Katie Garry, Casey Naylor, Abi Collins, Helena Walker, Hanna Wicks

SALFORD PROGRESS TO CUP SEMI-FINAL STAGE

SALFORD PROGRESS TO CUP SEMI-FINAL STAGE

Illingworth 6  Salford Red Devils 40                           Match Report

With almost remarkable predictability, Salford Red Devils’ women’s team continues to go from strength to strength, with last Sunday’s most impressive cup victory, away at Illingworth, taking them, after merely a month since their first competitive game, straight into the semi-finals of the League Cup.

The team was pleased to welcome back fullback, Luci McKeown, after missing the Dewsbury encounter, the previous week, and also Katie Garry onto the substitutes’ bench for what was to be her debut game.

That they really meant business was quite evident from the start, but was spelled out loud and clear after five minutes, when McKeown beat the incredible number of four players to go through to open the scoring, with Demi Jones slotting over the conversion.

Having laid down the gauntlet, it was then up to Illingworth to take up the challenge, and indeed they did just that, limiting the Salford opportunities for scoring, thereafter, for a full fifteen minutes, at the end of which McKeown seized the opportunity of adding another four points to her own growing tally, and put the Red Devils ten points ahead.

Yet again their hosts needed a response, and once again produced one, only this time it also produced a score of their own.  A cluster of penalties awarded to the home side gave them ample opportunity to set up a volley of attacks, over a four-minute period, and ultimately saw them crash through for a converted try, which really put them into contention, at 6-10

It did in fact take the visitors a further ten minutes to reassert their command on the game, and it was the intervention of Steph Gray, once again operating at right centre, who changed things in favour of the Reds.

She followed up her own overhead kick with a chase, filled with sheer determination, and then applied further soccer style skills to direct the ball into the vicinity of the try line, where, who should appear as if from nowhere to complete what must be one of the fastest hat-tricks to have been scored at this level, but Luci McKeown.

With Jones’s conversion the Salford team was able to retire to the changing-rooms at half time, with a 6-16 lead, and within three minutes of the resumption, following some magnificent carries by the forwards, which built up both momentum and an attacking platform, Lauren Ellison, on the right wing, charged down a kick then to beat the fullback to the ball for  what was probably a most crucial of tries, converted by McKeown.

The importance of this try was more the effect it had on the Illingworth side than its impact on the scoreboard, for to concede tries either side of half time, as they had done, is quite demoralising, despite their brave efforts in the first half, and  this one proved to be the one which opened the floodgates for a procession of scores.

Five minutes later slick hands from team captain, Louise Fellingham and McKeown, that had been started with an onward tip by Meg Condliffe, put Gray over near the corner, too far out for a successful conversion. 6-26

Kayleigh Bradshaw was next on the scoresheet with her try again being converted by McKeown, on 58 mins, with Fellingham crossing four minutes later, and Demi Jones returning to goal-kicking duties, to add the extras and take the Salford score to thirty-six.

Possibly the most popular try among the players, however, was their final one by Eponine Fletcher, with her first ever score, from a floating pass from Fellingham after she had combined with half back partner Jones, to ring up the forty.

After such a romp of a second half it is now going to be essential for the group to refocus, ahead of their next match which will involve the prospect of a long journey to Hull KR, this coming weekend.

SALFORD:

Luci McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Steph Gray, Alex Simpson, Eponine Fletcher, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Laura Bent, Tamzin Corcoran, Darcey Price, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Megan Condliffe

Substitutes:

Jenna Monks, Katie Garry, Casey Naylor, Abi Collins

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Sean Lunt, Omaga Photography, for Team Photograph above

SALFORD WOMEN SPRING SURPRISES IN NINES TOURNAMENT

For those of us who remember the highly popular Sevens Tournaments of the 1970s, a version of rugby at which Salford used to excel, our over-riding memory was one of sheer speed, and rather less in terms of rugby skills, as pacey individuals simply ran amok in the acres of space at their disposal.  The modern version of nine-aside is an attempt to redress the balance, so with a total of eight players (four from each side) missing, there is now much more rugby evident, while still ample opportunity for potential match-winners to have their field day.

For Salford women’s side, with only one competitive game under their belt, the change to a completely different and novel style of play was always going to require an extremely steep learning curve to be able to cope, let alone come close to winning a match.  Even the scoring was unfamiliar, with a try between the posts, only, earning five points plus the conversions. Restarts after a score were by the scoring team dropping out to the team which had conceded.

So, probably, in light of all that, the other three fully experienced teams in Group D will all, undoubtedly, have been relishing an easy ride against the newcomers to the comp.  If that were the case, they will have had one almighty shock, when they came up against the Red Devils

OULTON

Salford v Oulton was, in fact, the opening match of the afternoon, so there was to be no opportunity to observe another fixture in order to acquaint themselves with what to expect ahead of their game, only the opening onslaught from the Yorkshire players who quickly rattled up an eight-point lead.

Desperate times require desperate measures, so, step forward, Salford fullback, Luci McKeown, who received the ball just inside the Red Devils’ half of the field, on the third tackle of the set.  Far from ensuring the completion of the set as the main priority, she happened to notice that Oulton’s fullback was out of position, so put in a lengthy kick down field chased after it, and, having won the race, she then showed the skills of a soccer player before touching down over the line and adding the conversion.

Oulton replied almost immediately with a converted try, but shortly before half time, winger, Alex Simpson was put clear down the left flank to score under the posts, which with the extra point this earned, plus McKeown’s conversion brought the score at the turnaround, to 13-14.

Oulton, it was again, who opened the scoring to the second half, taking the score to 13-21, but from that point the Red Devils took total command.  First, they set up a try for right winger, Lauren Ellison, whose try brought Salford to within four points, at 17-21, and they got in front for the first time 24-21, following an interception by Simpson, and the final score coming from Abbi Collins, 31-21

CASTLEFORD

Despite their Super League status, Castleford turned out to be wooden spoonists at the end of the afternoon, and Salford’s 26-4 victory contributed to this.  A quite remarkable pass from McKeown, whilst being tackled, to Kayleigh Bradshaw got Simpson away and under the posts, for their first seven points of the match.  Then, lo and behold, McKeown replicated her try from the previous match, with the only variation being that she caught the kick on the bounce, to score under the posts to bring the score to 14-0

Castleford’s solitary score came just before half time, when the effort from all three, nine-minute periods, compiled to catch up on the Red Devils, but the second half was one way traffic, starting with a right to left passing move along the line to Simpson, once again, who crossed in the corner. 18-4

Hooker, Taz Corcoran, then caught out the defence, with a dart to the blind side for Ellison to score in the right corner to move the score on to 22-4.  Finally, prop, Demi Jones, got in on the act, with a most incredible ball steal to gain possession, for the last try of the game.

HUDDERSFIELD

It was only fitting that the final match was between the two best, and thus far undefeated, sides in this Group.  And how did this culminating match open?  Why, with a kick down the field by McKeown, and yet again a try under the posts.  Self-converted, of course.  Huddersfield were behind for the first time all afternoon.

Sadly, that was as good as it got for Salford, in this encounter.  Huddersfield had been clearly the team of the Group throughout the afternoon, winning both their previous matches, at a canter, and when, in the heat of the occasion, the Salford players lost some of their composure and started making handling errors, the Yorkshire side took advantage of each one.

The half time score of 7-10, quickly rose to 7-20, upon the resumption, until Ellison picked up a loose ball and showed a clean pair of heels over seventy metres, hotly pursued, to the posts.  There was still sufficient time, though, for Huddersfield to underline their superiority to bring up a final score of 14-24.

So, Huddersfield will progress as Group D’s representatives in the Final stage of the competition, at the A J Bell in a few weeks’ time, and congratulations to them in so doing.  A special concluding word, however, for all the Salford players who, so magnificently, represented the club, over the course of the afternoon.

There would have been no shame in their having lost all their matches, being so new to rugby league, let alone the nine-aside variation of it, against such experienced opponents.  To have won two of them, and to have kept to within ten points of the overall winners was incredible, and they all deserve every accolade of praise they receive.

They can only learn from today’s venture, and will get even better as a result.  They fully deserve the utmost of support, and would undoubtedly welcome your attendance at some of their home games, starting, this weekend against Dewsbury, on Sunday afternoon, at the home of Salford Roosters.

SALFORD SQUAD:

Luci McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Eponine Fletcher, Alex Simpson, Louise Fellingham, Taz Corcoran, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Gabby Chaplin, Abbi Collins, Demi Jones

FINAL POSITIONS GROUP D:

  1. Huddersfield
  2. Salford
  3. Oulton
  4. Castleford

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