North East Thunder 4 Salford 52
For the second consecutive week the Salford Red Devils U19s were paired with one of the RFL Development Areas, this time away in the North East, at the home of the Newcastle Falcons. Having despatched of Cumbria without conceding a point in the opening fixture of the season, the previous week, confidence in the visitors’ camp was sky high, although, true to his word, Head Coach, Garreth Carvell had rung a few changes in order to give some of the younger players some game time.
Not that this was to diminish, in any respect, the efficiency of the Red Devils’ attack, with their running yet another nine tries, eight of which were converted by scrum half, Lewis Fairhurst, though the home side were successful in breaching the Salford defence, early in the game, to ensure that they did not suffer the ignominy of failing to score on their home ground.
Indeed, it took some twenty minutes for the Devils take complete control of proceedings, as, despite registering their first points after 6 minutes, their lead was quickly eroded when the North East crossed for their points, a few minute later. By half time, however, Salford had put themselves in a quite commanding position, having built up a 24-4 lead.
Disaster struck the Thunder as early as the second minute, when, sadly, the game was held up for over three minutes, owing to an ankle injury to prop, Alex Taylor, who was forced to retire from the fray, at that point. Immediately upon the restart, Salford went close to notching their first try, when a great break by Lewis Fairhurst, with Lewis Hatton in support, put them close to the home line, and hooker, Aaron Moore, scooted over from the play the ball, only for the try to be ruled out owing to an obstruction by another Salford player.
Three minutes later, the North East had their own disappointment when the referee spotted a forward pass in the build up to winger Jack Quinn’s crossing in the right hand corner. There was to be no mistake, however, immediately afterwards, when a penalty to Salford enabled them to turn defence into attack, and left centre, Harry Madders ran strongly at the line to get the touch-down. From close to the touchline Lewis Farihurst was on target with his first conversion attempt.
Despite this setback for the home side, the game ebbed and flowed until, until a couple of repeat sets on the Salford line brought the North East their try through fullback, Nial Sidney.
The Red Devils’ response was swift, and on 22 mins, some rather questionable handling moved the ball to the left, close to the Thunder line, and stand off, Alex Gaskell, took advantage of a gap in the defensive line to score close to the corner, to which Lewis Fairhurst added the extras, and extend the lead to 12-4.
Two tries in the last five minutes of the half doubled the visitors’ points tally, and took the game beyond the North East’s grasp. First a strong run by Tom Millington set up the position, and his quick play-the-ball saw fellow substitute, Jack Cottington, get over, and then, from a scrum over on the left flank, Alex Gaskell’s clever feint and footwork created space for him to feed right winger, Jake Knox for his first try, at this level. Lewis Fairhurst was bang on target with two difficult kicks.
It took only five minutes for Luke Fowden’s forceful running to power him over between the posts for the first of two, back to back, identical tries. This first followed Fairhurst’s play the ball from the almost identical spot, and the second, seven minutes later, saw Fowden ground by the left hand upright. With his easiest kicks so far, Fairhurst took the score to 36-4.
A good break, by Jack Thompson, as a result of returning a Thunder kick, was immediately replicated by second rower, Lewis Hatton, on his way to scoring the next try, on 21 mins. With his only miss of the afternoon, Fairhurst hit the near upright.
That regular scorer of last season, Aaron Moore, was next on the sheet, with a scoot similar in many respects to his earlier disallowed effort, but this time there was no obstruction, while the scoring was wrapped up by Hatton’s second try as a result of his supporting a Fairhurst break. Fairhurst, in fact it was, who had the very last say in converting both these efforts.
Croft, Caine, Thompson, Maders, Knox, Gaskell, Fairhurst, Fowden, Moore, Bent, Okanga-Ajwang, Hatton, Worrall,
Subs: Millington, Cottington, Whittaker, Moffatt
Match Report – David Clegg