Leigh 28 Salford 20 Match Report
In what was their third encounter since both teams were promoted into Super League 2, the Red Devils showed noticeable improvement upon both their pre-season friendly and their earlier home league fixture, against Leigh Leopards back in May, as a result of this being the strongest side they had managed to muster for any of the three matches.
Things certainly got off to a great start, when the opening kick-off completely fooled the receiving Leopards to bounce into dead, thus providing Salford with possession from the resultant goal-line drop-out. From this, the visitors were able to mount an attack which saw the ball being moved to right giving winger, Liana Leota, with room to go over in the corner, to open the scoring.
Having been stung into action, Leigh sought to speed up the game, and, from quick play-the-balls, opened up the Reds’ defence with half-breaks the most serious of which saw loose forward, Brogan Evans, pull off a try-saving tackle after chasing back.
Nevertheless, the Leopards continued to mount an onslaught of attacks for a full five minutes, before crossing for a somewhat soft try under the posts, on 10 mins, which was doubly disappointing after all their prior, valiant defensive efforts, and surrendering the lead.
Not for long, though, as a grand end-of-set kick from Demi Jones was collected by the chasing Alex Simpson to go over in the same corner giving the two-point lead now back to the Reds.
The speed of the Leigh strike players was such, though that they were always a threat, and another break, through the visitors’ line, saw them race on to score under the posts to bring the score to 12-8, on 19 mins.
The fact that the Salford players were able to prevent any further tries up to half time, was, nevertheless, testament to their magnificent defence, thereafter, the highlight of which came in the 35th minute, when Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, came from absolutely nowhere to crash-tackle a Leigh player in full flight, to deny them another score.
It was a dour start to the second half, for the Red Devils, however, for having, just like Leigh in the first half, scotched the kick-off, they had to face the full force of the Leigh attack on their line, for five full minutes, over four back-to-back sets, before eventually succumbing, out of sheer fatigue, to a converted try under the posts. 18-8
When, on 52 mins, Leigh added yet another try, this time in the right hand corner, they appeared to be moving out-of-sight, at 22-8, but, with full credit to them, Salford had other ideas, and with rather more possession got close enough to the Leopards’ line for dummy-half, Taz Corcoran to force her way over from a play-the-ball, close to the posts, thus giving Jones her first kickable conversion and reduce the deficit to eight points, at the mid-point of the half.
Seven minutes later, Corcoran went from hero to villain, when she was duly sin-binned for her part in a spear-tackle, and, with the extra player, Leigh were able to take the score to 28-14. Her return, on 77mins, coincided with a couple of back-to-back Salford sets, courtesy, a goal-line drop-out, and having caught out the Leopards’ defence once from a play-the-ball, she proceeded to rebalance her contributions more positively, by the most blatant and daring scoot from dummy half to complete both her brace of tries, and the scoring.
So, with the team showing week on week improvement, and with two final away fixtures at Barrow and Featherstone, thoughts will soon be turning to the play-offs, which, with the tightest of contests between the three sides mentioned herein, could see the Red Devils returning quickly to whichever one of those sides they end up being paired against.
Sage Bannister, Liana Leota, Alex Simpson, Steph Gray, Lauren Ellison, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Emerald Hickey, Victoria Kini, Helena Walker, Brogan Evans
Abi Collins, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Jessica Panayiotou, Hannah Wickes
18th Player – Darcey Price