Salford knew that there destiny was firmly in there own hands before kick off tonight. Even so there was a sense of nerves and tension in the atmosphere at The AJ Bell Stadium.
Jackson Hastings returned from his suspension to partner Robert Lui in the halves. Ed Chamberlain missed out through injury. Toulouse made a good start and there intentions were clear to see as they chanced there arm with a flamboyant style of attacking rugby league.
Salford grabbed the first points through Hastings. A superb individual effort showing real strength. The video referee had no doubt awarding the try. The six points became eight with foul play adjudged in the act of scoring. A very rare eight point try.
Joey Lussick scored Salford’s second try, Hastings hit the post with the conversion but the home side looked comfortable at 12-0.
Toulouse continued to create chances but lacked composure near the try line. Hastings edged Salford to a 14-0 with a penalty goal from forty yards out before the visitors got on the score sheet four minutes from the break through Chris Centrone.
The Red Devils came up with a really sloppy error from the kick off at the start of the second half. The ball was allowed to bounce and with no one taking charge went dead. From the drop out Toulouse half back Jonathan Ford and Stanislas Robin linked well to create there second try. Robin going over from Fords kick. With a successful conversion bringing the scores to 14-10. French tails were up and then a clever Forty Twenty kick put them firmly on the front foot. Salford were off the hook as Toulouse knocked on in a wonderful attacking position.
The video referee denied Salford a try as they were held up over the line. A penalty was awarded with Hastings cautiously opting to kick for goal 16-10.
With twenty minutes remaining the game hung firmly in the balance. Salford needed to find something and they certainly did. Three quick fire tries in six minutes wrapped the game up. Greg Johnson got the first before Niall Evalds raced through to touch down. On the next set Derrell Olpherts dived in at the corner with Hastings booting the goal off the touch line 34-10.
The ever reliable Kris Welham scored a well worked try with five minutes to go. Luke Burgess who is set to retire converted a super kick off the touch line to one of the biggest roars of the night from the delighted home supporters. Salford wrapped the scoring up as Mark Flanagan’s deft grubber kick was timed to perfection with Tyrone McCarthy crashing over. This time Burgess hit the post with the kick!
44-10 seemed harsh on a good Toulouse side who can still make the Million pound game. For Salford the planning will soon start for 2019. Ian Watson was a happy man speaking after the game. After a roller coaster season Watson has guided his side through plenty of adversity on and off the pitch. One of the brightest coaches in the English game continues to defy the odds.
Again the Salford supporters were fantastic, the moving scenes on the final hooter between the players and supporters shows the magical bond this club has. It certainly is special to be part of the Salford RLFC family.
Salford 44 Toulouse 10.