RESRVES QUELL THUNDER IN FINAL HOME GAME

Salford 32  Newcastle 10                               Match Report

A frantic opening onslaught by the Salford Red Devils, in which they outpaced the clock for points per minute by registering fourteen in the opening ten, laid the foundation for last Saturday’s convincing home victory over Newcastle Thunder.

It was at the end of the very first set of good approach work with strong carries and accurate passes, which had taken them to within ten metres of the visitors’ try line, that the ball was moved from right to left along the line, until scrum half, Jack Stevens, sent a fabulous long pass straight into the arms of winger, Billy Walkley who, with that little bit of extra space, went in at the corner.

After only a few tackles of the return set, again, telling passes put centre, Owen Blackwood through on a most impressive run, before further slick handling, this time to the right edge saw winger, Scott Egan, score the first of what was to end up as a hat-trick of tries.

Stevens, who had found the conversions from the two touchlines a little too far out to add on the extras, then took matters into his own hands, cutting through to score under the posts, on ten minutes.  There was no mistake this time with his straight-forward conversion sailing between the posts.  It was, however, to be pretty much his last contribution to the match, as a few minutes later he sustained an injury to his hamstring and had to retire to the dugout for the remainder of the time.

So torrid had the Newcastle side found the opening stanza that one feared that the afternoon might prove to be a no contest, but remarkably, there was to be no further score, for the remainder of the half.  Two contributory factors were responsible for this, with firstly the visitors’ introduction of rather more experienced players from the bench.

The Red Devils, in the meantime, did lose a little concentration and errors started to creep in and mar what had, hitherto, been a near perfect performance.   Two further clear-cut chances on the right edge were lost by inaccurate final passes, whilst penalties for a variety of reasons invited the Thunder into their half to test their defence.

The one aspect of their play on which they did not relax, however, was their end-of-set kick-chases, with hooker Kellan Wood producing some excellent punts down-field, eagerly raced after, and the clearing runs from the receivers halted in their tracks within moments.  This ability to turn defence into attack was probably one of the highlights of their play, and saved so much time, energy, and stress in goal-line defence.

When, eventually, the scoreline did change, seven minutes into the second half, somewhat surprisingly, it was Newcastle who took advantage of two repeat sets in the Reds’ half, to go over, close enough to the posts for a successful conversion, narrowing the score to 14-6.

Having been suddenly nudged out of the comfort of a three-score lead, the Red Devils roused themselves to regain field dominance, and Wood capped his most praiseworthy all-round performance, when he skipped over from a play-the-ball close to the line for a try converted by Matty Rudd, on 51 mins

 A tremendous crash tackle on a relieving Thunder defender, three minutes later, forced the ball free to give Scott Egan his second try, this time under the posts to take the score to 26-6, but there was still another try left in the visitors, who, on 62 mins, in circumstances not dissimilar to their first score, took themselves into double figures.

There was still time left, though, for Scott Egan to round off his, and the team’s tally, nine minutes from the end, after excellent handling by Nathan Connell and Billy Walkley, both of whom had impressed despite being significantly involved in the reshuffle surrounding Stevens’s departure.  Despite his having to take the goal kick from the touchline, Matty Rudd added the extras, whilst Scott Egan was unfortunately denied a fourth try, in the final minute, owing to a forward pass.

Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, was most pleased by what he considered his team’s most impressive and aggressive performance so far, with prop, Bardyel Wells, involved in an eyebrow-raising fifty two tackles during the game, and still having the energy to put in a significant number of bone crunching hit ups, whilst it was a welcome back from injury for fellow prop, Charlie Glover.

So, after this latest success, a trip to Huddersfield in a fortnight’s time will bring their regular season to its conclusion.

SALFORD

Nathan Connell, Scott Egan Owen Blackwood, Mikey Gilligan, Billy Walkley, Matty Rudd, Jack Stevens, Bardyel Wells, Kellen Wood, Charlie Glover, Jacob Lee, John Hutchings, Matty Unsworth

Substitutes

Lucas Iles, Finley Yates, Mason Phillips, Jorge Cabral

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