After the weeks bad weather the pitch was in decent condition at kick off. A slightly milder temperature met the players as the action got under way. Salford started the game brightly forcing errors from Saints and stopping the hosts from getting in to any kind of rhythm with some real solid tackling. It was in the 18th minute when the first points were posted. Red Devil’s full back Gareth O Brien converted a penalty goal to edge his side in front 0-2.
— Paul Hetherington (@pvp58) March 4, 2018
Shortly after, Alex Walmsley came off the bench for the home side and his strong running seemed to give Saints a lift. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook was held up over the line after a fantastic last ditch tackle from Salford hooker Logan Tomkins.
Ben Barba was at his best sending a neat kick in to the in goal area which Tommy Makinson pounced on to score. The conversion was dragged wide to leave Saints leading 4-2 after 26 minutes.
Salford’s goal line defence was really starting to be tested but Ian Watson’s men stood up to the task scrambling as best they could. Discipline was letting the Red Devils down with the penalty count already against them at 6-2
Four minutes before the break another piece of Barba magic lit the match up as he scorched over to score.
Trailing 8-2 at half time Salford had to come up with a score soon. Three minutes in to the second half came the turning point of the game. Kris Welham broke through but just didn’t have the pace to reach the try line in what was Salford’s best chance of the match. Moments later on the back of another penalty Barba’s neat skill and footwork gets him his second try. This seemed tough on hard working Salford.
Another tough 50/50 call seemed to go against The Red Devil’s when O’Brien is forced to drop out when it looked like it came off the Saints player. O’Brien’s drop out sailed out on the full to add to his frustrations. Danny Richardson opted to take the two from the resulting penalty to extend the lead to 16-2.
Salford hooker Josh Wood was everywhere in attack and defence as his performances seem to improve every week.
Discipline let Salford down again though on 56 minutes with Lama Tasi sin binned for back to back high tackles. Such was Salford’s grit in defence they kept working over time despite being down to 12 men. The spark in attack wasn’t there though and the St Helens try line was rarely threatened.
The final score line seemed a little harsh though. With just ten minutes remaining the score was still at 16-2 before three tries in the closing stages from McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Johnny Lomax and Luke Thompson wrapped up a satisfying win for Justin Holbrook. For the loyal Salford supporters behind the sticks it was hard to swallow with not much to cheer all afternoon but they stuck right behind their side to the final hooter.
Ian Watson wasn’t to despondent speaking after the match. He was pleased with his sides effort but disappointed with the discipline and some costly errors.
It’s another away trip next Sunday to face Castleford at Wheldon Road.
Final score St Helens 32 – Salford 2.
Catch my post match audio interview with Ian Watson here.