Salford Red Devils Academy team carried on exactly from where they left off last week, for having seen off the Wales Academy, in front of the first actual crowd of spectators, at the A J Bell Stadium, seven days ago, they travelled to Warrington to take on Super League opposition, in the form of the Wolves.
For those who had been fortunate enough to witness the young Red Devils in that dummy run for the opening up of the stadium, last week, there might have been those who expected them to find life considerably more difficult against such renowned opposition. Nothing could have been further from the truth, and as if to underline the point, the Salford lads racked up what must be something of a record score against a Warrington side, at this level.
The game was barely a few minutes old when the visitors crossed for the first of their tries, courtesy second rower, Jack Kenway, with Jack Stevens adding on the extras. Within minutes, the score board was in operation again when Michael Los cut through to take the tally into double figures, and it was not long before a second unconverted try was secured by Ben Wharton, taking the score to 0-14.
Jack Kenway, who, unfortunately, had hit the post with his first conversion attempt from Wharton’s try, was on target with his next attempt from in front of the posts, following scrum half, jack Stevens’s individual effort, bringing their points to twenty, in almost as many minutes.
It had been an incredible start to the game by the Red Devils who looked as though they could score whenever they wished to do so. The platform was undoubtedly laid by the forwards, who ran with such determination and conviction, that it had the Warrington defensive line absolutely reeling. Add to that a couple of extremely clever half backs, and the spine completed with equally effective fullback and hooker, and virtually one-way traffic was the result.
The only blots on their copybook came with two separate lapses of concentration. The interception of a Salford pass, some twenty-five metres from their own line, saw the Wolves capitalise with a try of their own, totally against the run of the play to bring the score to 4-14.
A second Warrington try came later in the half, when the right edge defence failed to slide across towards the touchline despite calls from teammates to do so, and a gap large enough for the home attack to exploit saw them double their score.
It was, nevertheless, Salford who finished the half with two further scores to put themselves comfortably in control, 8-30, at half time.
That comfort might have been just a little too much so, as things began to unfold in the second half. As one might have expected, the home side used the interval to regroup, and they returned to the fray with much greater determination than they had been able to muster in the opening forty minutes. In the face of this, and coupled with one or two changes of personnel, the Salford side began to lose their way a little.
The absolutely clinical way in which they had put away every clear-cut opportunity was suddenly missing, and they also began to lose a little composure, possibly as a result of frustration, and, after a period with each side vying for superiority, it was Warrington who broke the deadlock, though still without the extras from a conversion which might, otherwise, have caused some rather greater concern in the Red Devils’ ranks.
A return to basics and the hard graft of the early stages of the first half was called for, and this gradually rebuilt the composure and confidence needed. The final period belonged totally to the Reds, and they exploited it to the full, with tries coming thick and fast to keep the scoreboard turning over, right up to the final whistle.
TRIES: Jack Kenway (2), Mike Los (2), Ben Wharton, Jack Stevens, Alec Walton, Charlie McManus, Lucas Prescott
GOALS: Jack Kenway (8)
Morgan Kelly, Clifford Howard, Michael Loss, Ben Wharton, Alec Walton, Charlie McManus, Jack Stevens, Kal Barker, Owen Turner, Tom Hunter, Lucas Prescott, Jack Kenway, Josh Connolly
Billy Wadeson, Callum Hughes, Lucas Coan, Nathan Connell