U16s Head Coach, Danny Barton, Alongside David Clegg, Gives His Assessment Of His U16s Side’s Final Game Of The Season
At the end of an extremely short, eight week season, Salford Red Devils U16s faced their greatest challenge on their fixture list, with the visit of highflying Castleford to the A J Bell Stadium, last Sunday. Whilst the Yorkshiremen had been locking horns with top Super League sides such as Wigan and Leeds, the young Red Devils had been facing teams from the development areas of the North East, and the Midlands.
The big step up for the young Salford lads was something that the team had been working towards, however, and when the moment came around, they rose to it with a heroism which must have stirred the hearts of their faithful followers, with a 22-18 victory to add to the previous three wins they had already posted. Only the loss, owing to poor weather conditions, of a further three fixtures against the same development sides, has prevented the Devils from winning all seven of their fixtures.
For Head Coach, Danny Barton, Sunday’s performance really was the icing on the cake, and the best way he could have imagined rounding off his first season in charge of the team.
“It was a really pleasing afternoon, all round,” he confesses. “The lads have worked hard throughout, and I was especially pleased for them. To get such a result against an Academy 1 team has put down a marker showing that, although we are an Academy 2 side, we can still match, and beat, sides from the higher group.
“We didn’t need much motivation because not only were we facing a top outfit, many of the lads’ futures with the club were on the line in terms of contract renewal, but I was also pleased for our coaching staff, for all the work that they have put in.”
One aspect of the encounter, which would probably have gone unnoticed by many of us, was the number of local lads included in the Salford team. As far as ‘Embedding The Pathways’ is concerned, the word ‘local’ incorporates not only Salford players but also lads living Trafford, Manchester, and Bury, which is our allocated area.
“On Sunday, no less than eight of the twenty man squad were from within our locality, to compliment the great players we have from other areas,” Danny proudly states.
As is widely recognised, a good start is crucial in providing for victory at the end of the game, and so it proved to be on this occasion.
“We were first to score, and actually went a couple of tries up, relatively early on,” he recounts, “and by half time we were 18-4 ahead, thanks to tries from Jamie Abram, Tyler Dupree, and Lewis Clarke, and three goals from Keegan Brennan. Lewis’s’s try was the real stand-out one, coming from within our own forty. I’d expected a long kick but Jamie Abram put in a chip over the defence, passed it on to Lewis Clarke, who finished it off.
Castleford came back at us in the second half, and it became heart in mouths stuff towards the end. Lewis Clarke’s second try gave us the cushioning we needed and the result the lads deserved”
Incredibly, at the most crucial point of the game, the home side suffered a reduction in numbers, as two players, in separate incidents, were despatched to the sin-bin, one for descent, and the other for a late tackle on one of the Castleford half backs.
“For eight minutes towards the end we were down to eleven men,” Danny ruefully reflects, “yet we prevented the opposition from scoring throughout the whole of this time!
“One of the players sin-binned didn’t even get back on the field, so close to the end did all this happen. I asked the rest to dig deep and prevent Castleford from scoring, and that’s just what they did.”
Considering the overall size of the visitors’ team, and the fact that there were two England players among them, no praise could be high enough for the achievement of holding out in such difficult circumstances.
After such a stirring performance, the downside is that, far from having the opportunity to kick on and make further improvement, the group have played their last game together, and the players will be playing for their amateur clubs for the rest of the season.
“It would have been nice to have had the chance to back this up with another match,” Danny admits, “but that is not to be. All the players will remain with us throughout the season, though, as we shall be training together once a week.”
Salford Team
Liam Leech, Ben Moseley, Lewis Clarke, Jack Ratcliffe, Seb Howarth, Jamie Abram, Keegan Brennan, Tyler Dupree, Kieran Moore, Josh Whitehill, Claudio Defreitas, Keenan Frazer, Tom Craig
Jonny Kirby, Reece Walker, Will Cartridge, Owen Mackie, Tom Price, Patrick Harrison, Brad Smith

U16s finish season unbeaten

Salford Red Devils Under 16’s finished the season with a 100% record following a 22-18 win against Castleford Tigers in front of a good crowd at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The Reds came into the game off the back of good performances and wins against the Midlands and the North East but knew that would have to up their performance again if they were to come out on top against the tier one academy side.
Tries from Lewis Clarke (2), Jamie Abram and Tyler Dupree, supported by the goal kicking of Kegan Brennan gave Salford the impetuous against the Tigers, and then solid defence saw the Reds hold out for a memorable win.
The Red Devils started the game quickly, and were held up over the line a number of times, before Dupree eventually opened up the scoring, the prop forward crashing over from close range to give the home side the lead.
This try, added to by the conversion from Brennan gave Salford the momentum and the Reds were soon camped of the Castleford try line again. Clever footwork from Abram sliced a hole in the Tigers defence, and the Stand Off burst through to continue Salfords fantastic start to the match.
The home side would cross once again in the first half, with Clarke latching on to the end of a clever kick and racing away to score, extending Salfords lead to 18-0. The Yorkshire side gave themselves a foothold in the game with a try before half-time, leaving the score at 18-4 at the break.
Castleford started the second half on the front foot, scoring 3 tries in quick succession to temporarily give them the lead, before Clarke crossed again to restore Salfords advantage to four points.
The Tigers responded well and continued to put Salford under intense pressure. The home side found themselves with their back against the wall as they found themselves down to 11 men, losing two men to the sin-bin. The remaining players were resolute in defence however and saw the game out to record a superb win against a side in the tier above them.
Head Coach Danny Barton was extremely pleased with the result and had this to say after the game;
“I was pleased for the boys, even though we didn’t put much pressure on them, I know they were putting a lot of pressure on themselves to perform well against a Super League side, so for them to do well against Castleford and beat a tier one team is brilliant for them.”
Barton was also very impressed with the way in which his side defending under huge pressure from the Tigers in second half;
“I was worried with the way we started the second, and then we steadied the ship. We must have gone to eleven men for at least seven or eight minutes and we didn’t concede in that time, so thats a fantastic effort and a fantastic commitment to each other”.
The win see’s the young devils finish the season with four wins out of four, and Barton is please with the progress shown by the team;
“Even though its only been a short season, we’ve bought in a lot of local lads from our talent pool and its all coming together really nicely now,  we just want to kick on from here now, and hammer it in even more
Result: Salford Red Devils 22 Castleford Tigers 18
Salford Red Devils: Leech, Moseley, Clarke, Ratcliffe, Howarth, Abram, Brennan, Dupree, Moore, Whitehill, Defreitas, Frazer, Craig, Kirby, Walker, Cartridge, Mackie, Price, Harrison, Smith.  

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