Hopwood College 34 Salford Red Group 18
Following their baptism into the intensity of U19s rugby, in which a three year age range is prevalent, the Red contingent of our College U19s squad continued their initiation on Wednesday with a trip up to Rochdale to face Hopwood College, but unlike the previous week when, at Barrow, they had faced a number of players twelve months older than themselves, on this occasion there were also players two years their senior.
Despite this, however, they were determined to show their mettle and, against the odds, stand up to whatever was thrown at them, much to the delight of coach, Danny Barton.
“They had been caught by surprise in that first week, so they were quite determined to put this right, this week, which they did by getting off to a great start and scoring the first try and its subsequent conversion to put us six points ahead.”
The try came as a result of a penalty which put them on the attack, and a clever slick pass, by Dan Stone put Austin Downham in the clear for him to ground near to the posts.
The encouragement that this early score gave them enabled them to muscle up and dig deep in the arm wrestle which inevitably followed. The half time score of 10-6 in favour of the home side was undoubtedly a fair reflection on the Salford youngsters’ considerable efforts over that first forty minutes.
Hopwood had the stand out player in their hooker who proved to be an extremely potent attacking force, which he underlined by scoring three of the home-side’s tries.
“His maturity and experience gave him that extra bit of strength, and he was always alert to the odd lapse in concentration, which inevitably led to his scores.”
Unfortunately, as the game went on tiredness set in which manifested itself in handling errors, which of course invariably prove to be extremely costly, gifting, as they do, more and more attacking opportunities to the opposition.
“On the couple of occasions we did succeed in retaining the ball for a full set, we scored, twice; once by Josh Safford in the righthand corner, and the other from Connor Law in the left.”
One of the most encouraging aspects of the game from a Salford perspective was the goalkicking of standoff half, Dan Stone, who landed three kicks from three attempts, two of which were from the touchlines on either side, on what was a full-size pitch.
Looking ahead, there is good news on the horizon, with the return to the squad, on Monday, of former U16s second row and captain, Joe Lawlor, who will then be available for next week’s home fixture with Huddersfield Giants.