U16S RETURN TO ACTION WITH ANOTHER WIN
Midlands 12 Salford 44
After the loss of their previous weekend’s home fixture against the North East, it was with another away fixture, this time in the return encounter with the Midlands, that Salford Red Devils U16s returned to action, on Saturday, registering their third victory of the season. Having already beaten the same opponents, 36-6, in the opening round, hopes were high of their repeating that result on this occasion, and so it proved as the youngsters shrugged off the complication of a last minute change of venue.
“We were due to have played at Nottingham, University, but there was a late change to Loughborough University,” Head Coach, Danny Barton, explains.
Not that this made any difference to the visiting Red Devils, for despite the considerable size of the pitch, they had already encountered exactly the same on their visit to the North East, when they played at the home of Newcastle Falcons, and this stood them in good stead for this latest outing.
“We dominated from the start,” Danny recounts, “which was pleasing because all week we had been stressing to the lads that they must ensure they did not allow themselves to become complacent in any way.”
The outcome was a total of nine tries, with the only blot on the landscape being the rather meagre tally of three conversions. Danny had already highlighted this, following the match against the North East, and had determined to address this defect in their performance.
The appalling weather of the intervening weeks had, however, prevented his doing this, and so the deficiency in this aspect of their game was again in evidence. In fairness, many of the failed attempts were from wide angles, made all the more so by the full-sized pitch, though there were one or two which were from eminently kickable positions.
What clearly caused a drawback to one aspect of the Devils’ performance, was a positive boon in another, much to Danny’s delight.
“A lot of our tries were scored out wide because of our ability to take advantage of the very wide pitch,” he enthuses. “We have become quite adept at moving the ball wide to stretch the defence on these big pitches, and then cutting through the gaps on the edges.”
One player who really took great advantage of this was fullback, Liam Leach, who excelled in tracking the ball, as it was moved along the line, before choosing his moment to join it, to considerable effect.
“He really stood out in coming round the back and linking with the three-quarters,” Danny confirms. “Other than Liam, for everyone else it was just a good all round team effort.
“I did, at one stage in the second half, question the determination of the forwards, as one or two seemed comfortable to succumb to the tackle, but I was pleased with their response for the remainder of the match.”
Sustaining their effort for the full eighty minutes was most credible, and the half time score of 6-24 does show just how similar the two halves were. Salford's tries were scored by: Kegan, Seb, Keenan, Ben, Liam, Reece and Tyler, while Keegan and Will slotted over the goals.
Now attention turns to yet another away journey, this time to Copelands Athletic Stadium, Whitehaven, to play Cumbria. This, one might suspect, will probably be the young Red Devils' toughest encounter so far, for, despite the county's lack of Super League side, it remains a stronghold of amateur rugby league.
'There will be no second chances in this game,' he points out, 'as we only play these once, and that is away. They are really dedicated to their rugby up there. We will really have to measure up from the start, though we are in the winning habit now after three good wins.'