RED DEVILS HOLD OFF DEWSBURY THREAT

Salford Red Devils 14  Dewsbury Moor 12                  Match Report

A magnificent, last minute, try saving tackle, by Salford fullback, Alex Simpson, put paid to the last gasp chance for visitors, Dewsbury, as their right winger, swept away and into the clear from within her own half then on to the home twenty metre line, in the ladies’ game, which was the first of last Sunday’s Double Header.

She had reckoned without the determination, however, of the Salford skipper, who had produced a real captain’s performance throughout the encounter, with her leadership skills clearly evident, alongside  her ability to deal with end-of-set kicks and high bombs, returning each with far greater yardage than anyone could ever have expected, whilst picking appropriate moments to join the attacking line, and invariably to be found in the midst of any defending which needed to be done.

How fitting, therefore, that it should be she, who was to deliver that bone crunching crash tackle which saw the pair of them taken completely over the touch line, fifty seconds before the final whistle.

That the result was to hinge on that, however, would have seemed most surprising to anyone at the start of the game, with the Red Devils taking control from the outset, and it was as early as the third minute that prop Emily Bagguley powered over the Dewsbury line, only to lose the ball in the midst of defenders, in her attempt to ground it.  Indeed, she was to prove to be a tower of strength in the Salford pack right through both her stints. with some tremendous hit-ups, not to mention her contribution to the defence.

She was more than ably supported by second rower, Jadine McVernon, who has always made notable contributions to games, even when helping out the team by moving to play centre.  Last Sunday, she really did herself proud, particularly in the opening stages, when, on numerous occasions, the angles and lines, she chose to run, saw her then surging through gaps that had been hardly noticeable before, and then making fine progress up-field.

As for scoring potency, this was provided by the Salford right edge, comprising of Michelle Davis, Grace Wray, and Marnie-Lee Kelly, with all three Salford tries coming from various combinations of those players.

The opening score came in the eleventh minute, when, with the Reds in possession twenty metres out, Davis got the ball at first receiver, fed Simpson who had joined the line to provide the extra player, and she then put Wray through, with the centre having the composure to go round to score between the posts ensuring a straight forward conversion for Sam Evans who completed the acquisition of the full six points.

Even though the home side continued to dominate, they could not find their way to extending their lead further, and surprisingly enough it turned out to be the visitors, on 18 mins, who ended up drawing level as a result of gaining three repeat sets, and finally working an overlap on their right, to which they added the conversion.

Five minutes from half time, however, slick handling from a scrum, via Evans, Davis, and Wray, effectively put winger Kelly in at the corner, to restore the Salford lead, and produce a10-6 half-time score.

If there were one aspect of Red Devils performance which had really let them down throughout the first forty mins, it had been their propensity to concede penalties in abundance, and this continued at the start of the second half with Yorkshire side being awarded no less than four back-to-back penalties giving them five consecutive sets-of-six.

Nevertheless, it was Salford who were next to score.  That prolific, individual try scoring machine, which is Michelle Davis, had hitherto had, for her, a relatively quiet game, contenting herself with organising and controlling events, alongside instigating, or involving herself, in the two moves which had brought the tries. 

All that changed on 55 mins, when she positioned herself behind the line at the final play-the-ball of a set to shoot through a small gap she had espied, catching the defence out cold, and fending off the one sole attempt to tackle her, with a force that floored the defender, before she romped over in the corner to extend the score to 14-6.

This proved to be an absolutely vital four points, with Dewsbury’s narrowing of the gap to a mere two points, fifteen minutes from the end, motivating the whole Salford team, which had worked together so effectively on defence for the previous 65 minutes, to continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with one another, thereby keeping their line intact, right through to Alex Simpson’s final, telling intervention.

SALFORD

Alex Simpson, Marnie-Lee Kelly, Grace Wray, Becki Davies, Lily Gray, Michelle Davis, Sam Evans, Summer Harris, Alice Connolly, Emily Bagguley, Tina Millan, Jadine McVernon, Sophie Morris

Interchanges

Abi Collins, Emerald Hickey, Darcy Price, Lydia Egan

RED DEVILS MAKE IT THREE WINS IN A ROW

Salford 16  Oulton 14 Match Report

Salford Red Devils ladies continued their winning ways, last Sunday, with a hard-fought win over the visiting Oulton side, from the Wakefield area. 

Since returning to league fixtures following the completion of their Challenge Cup matches against three Super League sides, the Red Devils had already notched relatively comfortable wins against Bradford Bulls and Stanningley, but this Oulton formation provided a much sterner test.

This is hardly surprising as this was the club which had prevented the Reds from winning the Grand Final, two years ago.

The home side could not have got off to a better start, though, with a great kick-off finding open ground, and the bounce then finding touch to give the Red Devils possession for an equally fine first set. Lily Gray and Emily Webb must be the two smallest wingers in the league, but what they lack in size, they more than make up for with courage.

Consequently, when, at the end of that first set, the ball was moved to the right, it was only defensive numbers which, not for only this occasion, prevented Gray from going in at the corner, to complete a dream start.

Salford, nevertheless, continued to command the upper hand, and on nine minutes forced a goal line drop-out from a kick-in-goal.  Five minutes later, Summer Harris, deputising in the centre rather than occupying her usual second-row berth, was held up over the line, whilst stand-off, Michelle Davis, came close to grounding her own kick-in-goal, shortly after.

So much pressure was eventually going to bring its rewards, however, and on twenty minutes fullback, Alex Simpson raced twenty-five metres to beat the opposition to retrieve Davis’s high end-of-set bomb, to score an unconverted try in the left corner.

Just as it was beginning to look as though this would give them a 4-0 half time lead, the game swung dramatically in the visitors’ favour, on 36 mins, when they gained two back-to-back sets in the Salford twenty metre area from penalties, and let the visitors in at the corner to open their account.

They not only opened their account, they did so with interest, doubling their score direct from the kick-off to go in at half time with the four point lead the Salford players had believed would be theirs.

If the start of the first half had been particularly good for the Red Devils, the start to the second half was even better, with Davis, at the end of the first set, darting through the initial line of defence and then rounding in and out between three others to cross between the posts, giving Sam Evans a straightforward kick to restore the lead at 10-8.

The Oulton players were not to be outdone, this time, however, and started to mount pressure of their own, and it took an interception by Webb, on her own line to prevent their crossing again in the corner.  Not so, on 49 mins, when they were first to get to a kick-in-goal and score behind the posts to give themselves a 10-14 lead, which they were to hold until five minutes from the end.

Second-rower, Emily Bagguley, it was, who brought home the spoils for Salford with an absolutely class try, running onto Davis’s pass with spot-on timing, and at a great angle, all of which took her half-way through the line of defence.  

Even though her progress was halted by a couple of defenders, she showed incredible composure as she was brought down just short of the line by reaching out to place the ball firmly over the line, towards the left-hand touchline, converted by Davis.

So with league fixtures taking a break this week, all eyes will be turning to the Nines tournament at Warrington. With the individual talent there is within the squad, it could be a most enjoyable and entertaining event for Salford fans.

RED DEVILS STORM TO SEASON’S FIRST VICTORY

Salford Red Devils 44  Bradford Bulls 4                         Match Report

Salford Red Devils Ladies celebrated their return to Championship league fixtures with a grand forty-point victory over visiting Bradford Bulls, yesterday at the Salford Stadium.

After a three-match spell of being tested to the limit by Super League opponents, in the knock-out Cup competition, the Reds found some delight at being paired with a team, over which they quickly gained the mastery.

It was not just the scale of the victory, however, that was so noteworthy, even more so was the quite significant improvement they showed in their performance over the whole eighty minutes.  They started off playing on attack much as they had in previous games –  as individuals doing their own task in isolation – but as the game progressed they started to jell with one another and to apply some of the ploys which they have obviously learned and practised in training, and with success.

So much so, that by the later stages of the second half they were moving forward together as one line, passing the ball freely and accurately, and really looking every inch like a team, providing entertainment to the spectators who delighted in what they were watching.

It was in the eight tries they scored, and the way in which they were procured, however, that clearly highlighted their development through the game.  It was as early as the second set that the resultant tap from a penalty saw second-rower, Summer Harris, surge through a gap, as first receiver, and race some sixty-five metres to the try-line rounding the fullback, in the process to open the scoring and set the hallmark for the rest of the game.

Six minutes later, skipper, Alex Simpson scored another individual try this time from a pass – not from a Salford player but from an overly ambitious offload from a Bulls player – giving Simpson a clear run to the posts.  Goalkicker, Demi Jones, who had been off the mark with her first attempt made no mistake this time and went on to kick six out of her eight attempts – two from the touchline – with the only other miss coming on her last attempt of the first half.

Still, the Red Devils found rich pickings from exploiting gaps in the visitors’ defence, and next it was fullback, Michelle Davis, who not once, but twice, on 22 and 28 mins, made long range breaks, the second of which looked as though it were going to bring her an incredible one-hundred-metre try, her having first taken the ball between her posts. 

Heartbreakingly, she was caught from behind a couple of metres short of the line.  ‘Heartbreaking’, not so much for the benefit it would have done for the team at the time, but because she so richly deserved it having eluded, and even shrugged, off tackles on her way there.  Sadly, a bigger opponent, with a longer stride, was able to get within arms-length of her and pull her backwards, away from the line.

She did, nevertheless, have the satisfaction of knowing that her breaks both led to tries.  The first came with Simpson’s second of the afternoon, out wide on the right, when the ball was moved to the right directly from a scrum, to stretch the lead to 16-0, thanks also to Jones’s great conversion from near the touchline.

Although the Bulls were able to reduce their arrears with an unconverted try on their right edge, on 30 mins, this was quickly eradicated three minutes later, when good hands from Jones and Davis got right winger, Marnie-Lee Kelly over in the corner, to bring a 20-4 half-time lead.

The increase in confidence that that scoreline brought, and the cohesion that working together as a unit gave them in continuing to move the ball around, enabled them to score four further tries, all from good teamwork.

Sam Evans, having moved from half-back to centre was first to benefit from good approach work, on 50 mins, coming round towards the posts after having crossed, further out.

Prop, Emily Bagguley, was held up near to the posts, on sixty minutes, and from her play-the-ball slick hands succeeded in getting the ball to the right edge, where substitute, Jen Myler, crossed in the corner.

Possibly the slickest of all the build-ups came from Simpson’s beautiful, slipped pass, four metres out, coupled with Davis’s excellently timed run to receive it, which put the now stand-off half over between the posts, on 69 mins.

Undoubtedly, the most complex move of all came two minutes from the end, when a number of players moved the ball from left to right where Jones’s pass went to her right side, second rower, Myler, whose most cleverly angled run enabled her to complete her brace.

Congratulations then to all the players, who put the difficulties of the past weeks behind them, took control of the game from the outset, and achieved a victory well beyond most people’s remotest expectations.  Having made such huge strides, it is imperative that they now build on that, and endeavour to replicate much of it in future games, where they might well be required to overcome somewhat greater adversity than on this occasion.

SALFORD

Michelle Davis, Emily Webb, Becki Davies, Alex Simpson, Marnie-Lee Kelly, Sam Evans, Demi Jones, Emerald Hickey, Alice Connolly, Emily Bagguley, Jadine McVernon, Summer Harris, Sophie Morris

Interchanges: Abi Collins, Jen Myler, Darcey Price, Lydia Egan

18th Player Natasha Routh

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