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’ 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

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