Warrington Wolves 22 Salford Red Devils 26 Match Report
Salford’s newly formed women’s team took to the field, on Sunday last, to face Warrington Reserves, in their first ever competitive game, at Warrington’s Victoria Park, and excelled themselves by coming away with a thrilling and hard-fought victory.
With only a single friendly encounter with Swinton Lionesses, back in mid-January, the Salford women were fairly untested and relatively inexperienced in comparison to their hosts, with the Wolves having been running a women’s side for at least a couple of seasons, but over the eighty minutes the Salford players grew greatly in stature and confidence.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, it was the experience of their opponents, comfortable in their home surroundings, who took the early initiative and, consequently, were first on the scoreboard by crossing for a converted try to take the lead.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the Red Devils took this first setback in their stride, focused their minds on all that they had rehearsed in training sessions, and endeavoured to put it into practice. This level-headed approach worked wonders as they started to haul themselves into the game, and they were duly rewarded by drawing level, when Luci McKeown became the first Salford player to score, in the Championship competition, with Demi Jones adding the goal.
But it did not end there, for even before half time was upon them, they had gone in front. Alex Simpson, making her debut with the side, had the honour of putting the visitors ahead with a 6-10 lead, which they were able to take into the interval.
If the first half had been tight and closely fought, the second half was thrilling throughout, with the result in doubt right up until the final whistle. That half time interval lead had worked wonders for the Salford players’ confidence, and they resumed the contest by producing some fine enterprising rugby which saw them well-placed in the Warrington half, and it was no surprise when McKeown repeated her try-scoring feat of the first half, with a second, which was once again converted by Jones.
That ten-point lead might have seemed a comfortable one, at the time, but an early handling error turned the ball over to their opponents who promptly cut their deficit down to four points, with a converted try of their own.
Much of the Red Devils’ attack seemed to come by their working the ball out to the right edge, where winger, Lauren Ellison, was released in space, on a couple of occasions. On the first she was unfortunately tackled into touch by a defender, but there was no such respite for the Wolves on the second when she crossed in the corner, too far out for the conversion to count. 12-20
A Salford error, at the kick off, allowed the ball to bounce into dead, and, from the resultant goal-line drop-out, the home side took advantage of the position, and possession, to mount a series of attacks, over a twelve-minute period, during which they scored twice, the second of which was converted from the left touchline, to restore the lead to Warrington, at 22-20.
Many teams might have panicked at this point, particularly with full-time drawing closer and closer, but, yet again, the Salford players took a grip on the situation, and despite being thwarted on two or three occasions, close to the line, eventually put themselves back in front for once and for all, with a superbly executed try, which involved four players, Taz Corcoran, Vannessa Hadley, and Louise Fellingham, inter-passing and running extremely clever angles, directly in front of the home posts.
The fourth, Vicki Kini, pictured above, took the final pass to touch down between the posts, but each and every one of the four involved, deserves credit for their contribution in such a remarkable build-up.
That may have been the final score of the afternoon, but there was still time left for Warrington to launch two or three further attacks but the resolute Red Devils stood firm, as indeed they had on a number of occasions throughout the game, without conceding any further contrary score.
Congratulations, therefore, to the whole squad, not only on the occasion of their first match, nor even on the victory they so magnificently earned and deserved, but on their professional approach and attitude to and through the game, overcoming misfortune and setbacks by commitment, determination, and above all absolute trust in one another which was so evident throughout the whole encounter, and will see them through many a difficult match in the future.
Niamh Dickinson, Steph Gray, Luci McKeown, Vicki Kini, Helena Walker, Louise Fellingham, Darcey Price, Megan Condliffe, Vannessa Hadley, Hannah Wicks, Sam Boyes, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Olivia Miah, Erin Tong, Abi Collins, Laura Bent, Lauren Ellison, Demi Jones, Taz Corcoran, Casey Naylor, Gabrielle Chaplin, Jena Monks, Lauren Hunter, Eponine Fletcher, Alex Simpson, Kayleigh Bradshaw