U19 PUT TOP TEAM TO THE TEST
Salford Red Devils 18 Wakefield Trinity 30 Match Report
The ability of individual players to turn half chances into points proved to be decisive in Wednesday afternoon’s encounter against the team, which, on an annual basis, proves to be one of the top three sides in the competition. As far as teamwork was concerned, however, there was very little to choose between the sides, as a nip and tuck contest unfolded, with the plucky Red Devils pushing their visitors every inch of the way, as they sought, with some success, to keep in contention.
The foundation for this was undoubtedly the pack which worked tirelessly to make yardage and set up good attacking position for the rest of the side, which, by means of three converted tries, they were able to ensure that the Yorkshiremen were never comfortably in the clear.
A keenly fought arm-wrestle in the opening ten minutes gave no indication of the way the game would suddenly change as it did, when Wakefield left winger, Lewis Murphy, turned the game on its head by scoring an eighty yard try, completely against the run of the game at that moment, to score under the posts. Receiving the ball in most innocuous looking circumstances, he had the skill and pace to make room for himself and win the foot race to the line to put the visitors 0-4 in front.
Things looked quite ominous for the Red Devils, when, following immediately upon the sin-binning of Connor Aspey, Trinity took advantage of their numerical advantage to force their way over for another try which this time, with a much more difficult kick, they successfully converted.
That was the cue for the Salford lads to show their mettle, and far from capitulating as past teams might have been guilty of, they struck back with a try of their own, and a well judged kick from Charlie McManus was cleanly taken by right winger, Connor Law, to score in the corner, with Josh Stafford adding the extras, with an excellent conversion from close to the touchline, to make the score 6-10.
In an almost identical repetition of his opening try, though this time from the halfway line, Lewis Murphy once more got into the clear before side-stepping valiant attempts to cut him off and cross between the uprights once more. 6-16.
Not to be outdone, the Red Devils struck back with another similar try to their first, this time with a kick from Callum Hughes, out wide, which was taken by hooker, Connor Aspey who crossed to the left of the posts, and with Josh Stafford’s conversion brought them back to within four points.
There was no stopping the irrepressible Wakefield attack minutes later, however, when slick handling and good angled running opened up the home defence to restore their two-score lead, but Salford had the last word before half time when Connor Aspey scored his second after good work by Callum Hughes who had broken the defensive line. Josh Stafford continued his hundred percent success rate in the game by adding his third conversion to bring the half time score to a tantalising 18-22.
The second half was a much tighter affair, however, with chances much more limited, and praise must be lavished on the Salford defence for holding the visitors to two scores only, the last of which came in the closing minutes.
Coach, Danny Barton, was fulsome in his praise for the efforts of his team, especially for the way they shaped up in the face of adversities, including being reduced to twelve men for a ten minute period in the first half.
“Wakefield have always been the top side in the competition, for three or four years now, so this has been a massive improvement on any of our previous performances, with us having to face two or three players who have already been signed up by Wakefield on fulltime professional terms. Those were the individuals who were able to turn the game around at crucial times.
“There was, though, a twenty minute period when we really got up and matched up to them, set for set, despite everything. This was a bigger pack than we have played against so far, but our lads really stood up to them well, and even controlled things for lengthy periods. We even managed to close down the strike power of their left winger, after we had spoken about it at half time, which was crucial to our staying in contention.
“We have spent some time working on our team ethic, and the importance of covering for one another and backing one another up, and this was evident in this game. There are still a number of things to work upon, and that is our main purpose – helping the lads progress through the various stages of development, and with the new pathway of the reserve side coming along this season, there is every opportunity for them to continue that progression.”
Josh Stafford, Morgan Kelly, Jamie Shannon, Luis Roberts, Connor Law, Charlie McManus, Callum Hughes, Tom Hunter, Connor Aspey, Sam Eyres, Jack Kemway, Dylan Hartley, Harvey Hulmes
Jack Fairbrother, Ben Gore, Cameron Williams, Josh Connolly