U19S ELEVEN MEN HOLD OUT FOR CUP VICTORY
The thrills and spills of any cup competition were evident in abundance, in this first round encounter which saw the eleven men of Salford survive a spirited onslaught from the twelve of the visiting Hull FC side, to progress into the next round, following the dismissal of three players fifteen minutes from time.
It must have been the stark knowledge that defeat would have, in effect, brought their season to an untimely end, which spurred them on to greater and greater effort, when all their energy was draining away from them.
Before that the game had swung first one way then the other, with the Hull side opening the scoring after five minutes, with a converted try. Salford’s reply came five minutes later, when left winger, Connor Law, crossed in the corner, too far out for a successful conversion, leaving the Red Devils two points in arrears.
Just how evenly matched the two sides were was shown, on twenty five minutes, when quite against the run of play, Hull, with a strong breeze behind them, marched upfield and extended their lead with another converted try to take the score to 4-12.
Again, Salford repaid like with like, when, directly from a scrum in front of the posts, twenty metres out, a poor Hull pass went astray, and, although they eventually gathered the ball briefly, Josh Stafford snatched it to romp over for a try converted by Jack Kenway.
Surprisingly, there was still to be one further score before the half time whistle, when, after a period of pressure on the Salford line, Hull, in the dying seconds decided to settle for one point extra, with a neat drop goal, from in front of the posts to make the half time score 10-13.
The feeling throughout the Salford camp during the interval was that they had matched their opponents in every aspect thus far, and that they were sufficiently close on the scoreboard to overtake the deficit. This certainly was the approach which was evident in the opening twenty minutes of the second half, as a battle of attrition unfolded, with neither side being able to take the upper hand.
When the deadlock was broken eventually, it was Salford who took the lead for the first time, from centre, Luis Roberts, who took the opportunity, as the ball was moved from left to right, to use his considerable height horizontally, to ground the ball amidst a couple of defenders.
The game erupted, minutes later, when a seemingly innocuous Salford tackle outraged the Hull ball-carrier, and a brawl involving most of the players, ensued, the outcome of which saw Jak Fairbrother and Luis Roberts dispatched to the dressing-room, along with the aforementioned Hull player.
With over fifteen minutes left to play there were many who would have doubted that the single point lead would be sufficient, but, in fact, it was extended further when good hands put right winger, Josh Stafford, in at the corner. 18-13
From thereon, with tired defences and extra room in which to run, the tries came thick and fast. A Hull try in the right-hand corner, was, crucially, too far out for the conversion, and the visitors remained that one point adrift.
But then came a most remarkable try from Salford. It started in the middle of the field from a pass which put Josh Stafford into space. As defenders came across at him, he cut inside and then sent out an accurate pass to the supporting Connor Law, who outpaced the sliding defence to cross ten metres in from the touchline. The Red Devils had not had the greatest success with conversions throughout the afternoon, but this time, such a good try was converted with an equally good kick, giving them a seven-point cushioning. 24-17
Even then the game still was not over, with the visitors crossing yet again, by the left-hand post, and adding the simple conversion.
It was a nail-biting final three minutes, with the game hanging tenuously in the balance right up to the final whistle, but the Red Devils stood resolutely to their task, and prevented any further chances of Hull snatching the game from them.
Nathan Connell, Connor Law, Luis Roberts, Ben Wharton, Josh Stafford, Charlie McManus, Jack Stevens, Jak Fairbrother, Callum Hughes, Will Toone, Sam Eyres, Jack Kenway, Harvey Hulmes,
Josh Henry, Ben Whiteley, Morgan Kelly, Clifford Howard