It was a high noon kick off at the AJ Bell Stadium but the early start didn’t faze Salford who were quick out of the blocks against Catalan.
The Red Devils threatened early on as The Frenchmen were immediately put on the back foot.
Jake Bibby got the games opening try finishing superbly in the corner as he acrobatically avoided the corner flag to touch down. Robert Lui kicked off the touchline 6-0.
Moments later live wire Lui split the Dragon’s defence to gallop away. Niall Evalds was there in support to extend the lead with the try. Lui again added the conversion.
In what was quite a bad tempered first half with an ever increasing penalty count Weller Hauraki was sent to the sin bin just after the half way mark. The tough tackling and big hits continued though as the whole ground shuddered when Lama Tasi crunched Catalan forward Sam Moa with a real bone rattler.
Catalan responded with a try while the Red Devils were down to 12 men. Tony Gigot with excellent vision to pin point a kick into the in goal area for wing man Fouad Yaha. Gigot dragged the conversion wide 12-4.
Josh Wood and Robert Lui were working well at half back and Salford went in at half time 8 points to the good.
Towards the end of the first half Salford looked like they were going to be drawn in to a real dog fight with the Dragons as the game looked close to boiling point. Whatever Ian Watson said to his players at the half time break payed of as they stepped up a gear. Ben Nakubuwai went on a thrilling break Josh Wood was there backing up in support to find Greg Johnson who had an easy finish. Lui again converted to put Salford in control 18-4.
With an hour on the clock Salford received a penalty well within kicking range but decided to chance there arm and take a tap. Yaha intercepted and went almost the length of the field. Gigot converted 18-10.
With just 13 minutes remaining Lui this time calming added a penalty goal to nudge Salford further ahead at 20-10 before moments later came the try of the match. Lui with a sublime pass to Evalds who raced away. Mark Flanagan and Josh Wood linked up in support before Josh Jones received the final pass to crash over. The crowd were on their feet and delighted. Lui again added the goal 26-10.
The ever willing Kris Welham then scored what seemed an impossible try. Evalds offloading to Welham who had no where to go. He somehow created just enough space with fantastic footwork and trickery to fool a tiring Dragon’s defence to score in the corner. A few weeks ago star man Lui said practice makes perfect when it comes to goal kicking. His hard work certainly paid off as he thumped over the conversion from the touch line to make it 6/6 with the boot.
Greg Bird powered over in the closing seconds for Catalan but the day belonged to Salford. Ian Watson was very calm speaking after the game and knows how important rest and recovery is before Monday’s trip to Leeds. Ian was particularly impressed with young Josh Wood. “He gives us real good options at 7 or 9 and is a brilliant defender”.
Salford 32 Catalan 16.
Images by Gareth Lyons