Widnes 4 Salford Red Devils 22 Match Report
Sitting, for the fourth week, at the top of the Ladies Championship table, the Salford Red Devils travelled to Widnes at the weekend for what had long been expected to be a most keenly fought encounter, and which did indeed live up to those expectations.
Apart from the fact that a number of the Salford players had, at one time been part of the Vikings’ squad, there had also been an earlier Cup game which had not gone ahead, making this fixture all the more important.
With such additional pressure on the players, it was perhaps understandable that the team was somewhat more subdued in their performance from their usual flamboyant style, allowing themselves to be dragged into an arm wrestle, which, to some extent, stunted their overall performance. Had they stuck with their normal approach, the likelihood is that they would have won by a greater margin.
Despite a bright start, in which the visitors twice crossed their hosts’ line in the first five minutes both scores were disallowed, heralding a somewhat frustrating afternoon for the Salford players. In fact, it was Widnes who seemed to benefit from that opening salver by going up field and returning the pressure they themselves had just endured.
It was, to a certain extent, therefore, against the run of play, at that particular time, that Salford took the lead, thanks to right centre, Steph Gray’s incisive run through, to score the first try of the afternoon on fifteen minutes. Demi Jones’s conversion was equally on the mark to complete the six.
It was a further ten minutes before the Red Devils were able to expand upon this, but it was well worth waiting for, when they did. Good forward drives from deep within their own half, brought them into the Widnes twenty metre area, and a tap-penalty on the right-hand edge set up, second row forward, Serina Tamou, with a beautifully angled surge through the defensive line to score in a similar position to Gray’s opener, which quite suited Jones for her second successful conversion attempt.
Having fallen twelve points behind, the home side promptly stepped up[ their game and produced a period of attack, from which they narrowed the Salford lead, by four points, shortly before half time. A diagonal kick into the right-hand corner was pounced upon by their right winger to ground the ball in the corner.
The fillip which this gave the Widnes players was probably only to be expected, and they threw everything they had at the Salford line in the first ten minutes of the second half. It took some tremendous goal-line defence, including a couple of try saving tackles to prevent their lead being further eroded.
Once they had weathered the storm, however, it was the visitors who returned to the attack, and provided Gray with the second of what is proving to be her weekly brace of tries. She picked up a loose ball close to the right-hand touch line and took advantage of some space to get herself over the line, too far out for Jones to convert, but, nevertheless, restoring their lead to twelve points, once again, 4-16.
It was not then until some fifteen minutes from time that the Reds were able to improve upon this lead, when dummy-half, Taz Corcoran, caught the Widnes defence napping at a play-the-ball, and scooted diagonally across the field, fifteen metres out, to straighten up and cross the line, as with all the other tries, to the right of the posts, for Jones to kick them to a comfortable, though not commanding, 6-22 lead and ultimate victory.
With no Reds’ fixture this weekend, second placed Warrington and third placed Oulton will be fighting for the opportunity either to close the gap on the Red Devils, or, in Warrington’s case, to draw level with them at the top of the table, all of which puts the importance of this latest Salford victory, into context.
Alex Simpson, Lauren Ellison, Steph Gray, Vannessa Hadley, Katie Garry, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Darcy Price, Tamzin Corcoran, Abi Collins, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Serina Tamou, Megan Condliffe
Hannah Wicks, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Casey Naylor, Brogan Evans, Eponine Fletcher
Sean Lunt, Omaga Photography, for above photograph showing, from left to right, Casey Naylor, Alex Simpson, Brogan Evans, Louise Fellingham, Hannah Wicks
Media Consultant – Gabby Chaplin