After spring like conditions for Salford’s last two outings it was a glum, wet and misty night for the visit of St Helens.
The Red Devil’s lost George Griffin in the warm up handing 18th man Daniel Murray a place in the starting line up. Lee Mossop picked up an injury after just six minutes. The Salford captain left the field and didn’t return leaving coach Ian Watson with just three substitutes for the rest of the game.
Defences were on top in the opening exchanges. Luke Thompson looked lightning quick for a prop forward and along with his Saints team mate Alex Walmsley the visitors sheer size was proving a handful to contain.
Salford’s brave resistance was broken on 19 minutes. Former Red Devil Theo Fages pumped a kick out wide. Mark Percival out jumped Derrell Olpherts to score the games opening try.
Salford continued to play with tons of honesty and endeavour. St. Helens were superb in defence though and seemed to nullify any threat from the hosts.
Saints grabbed there second try and the back of a fortuitous piece of play. Referee Ben Thaler awarded them a scrum when it looked like the ball had played the Salford man leaving him no chance of getting out of the way.
Johnny Lomax showing great strength to brush of defenders to touch down.
In the final minute of the first half another 50/50 call went against Salford. This time Fages towering kick seemed to hit Niall Evalds on his head or perhaps shoulder as he attempted to catch the ball. Thaler ruled a knock on and from the resulting scrum James Roby snatched a trade mark try from close range. The veteran hooker was superb all evening for Saints, showing no sign of slowing down.
Trailing 0-16 at half time Salford kept on working at the start of the second half. Both sides traded sets before a piece of magic from the visitors got pulses racing. Golden boot winner Tommy Mackinson and centre Percival combined to cut Salford to pieces with some wonderful support play. A try seemed odds on until Jackson Hastings chased back to produce a stunning try saving tackle to epitomise what he’s all about. The Australian worked his socks off all night in a tireless performance that delighted the Salford faithful.
The Red Devils got on the score sheet after Olpherts leaped above the Saints defence to touch down for a well deserved try. Ken Sio hit the post with his conversion 4-16.
On the very next set Gil Dudson knocked on deep in his own half to pile the pressure back on his side. Saints were at first denied a try by the video referee before Regan Grace touched down on the next set to extend there lead 4-20.
Another Saints break away saw another super cover tackle, this time Ken Sio coming up with a heroic piece of defence. This only delayed the inevitable as a shattered Salford defence couldn’t prevent Roby from rounding the scoring off with his second try.
Salford Coach Ian Watson was pleased with his sides effort and commitment against a top Super League side in St. Helens. “Lots of effort and endeavour, I thought we learned our lessons at half time, coming out second half we were a lot better.” Watson also praised the visitors for a polished and professional performance. “ I thought saints were great today, they showed what a champion team should do in those conditions, hopefully we can learn from that. We’ve got a group here that can learn.”
Salford travel to the south of France next weekend to face Catalans in what should be another intriguing encounter.
Final score Salford 4 St. Helens 26