A breezy but sunny evening welcomed the two sides at kick off for this Challenge Cup Quarter Final behind closed doors in St Helens.
Ian Watson handed a debut to Kallum Watkins who started at centre. Dan Sarginson returned from injury and he slotted in at full back for the injured Niall Evalds. Andy Ackers missed out for Salford due to being cup tied and James Greenwood came in at second row. Captain Lee Mossop was also sidelined.
Catalans who were beaten at home to Wigan last Saturday welcomed back two key players who missed that match. Josh Drinkwater and Michael McClorrum both started.
The famous old Challenge Cup trophy stood proudly on display at pitch side prior to the kick off. A glorious site, one of the most iconic pieces of silverware in sport.
It wasn’t the best start for Salford as they kicked out on the full from the kick off. Catalans attacked and were awarded another penalty close to the try line. Lovely ball movement saw Fouad Yaha score in the corner.
Super defence from Watkins prevented Sam Tomkins scoring after a weaving run close to the line. The team on top in the early stages though was definitely the Dragons.
James Maloney extended the Catalans advantage to 6-0 with a penalty goal after fifteen minutes.
Dan Sarginson added to Salford’s woes with a knock on deep in his own half. Back to back sets for the Dragons followed before Maloney scored an easy try which he also converted 12-0.
Salford needed a response and fast. They got one when Sarginson powered over. Krisnan Inu converted off the touch line 12-6.
Inu then got a try as he fended off Lewis Tierney. Kevin Brown with a peach of a pass provided the assist. The conversion missed the target to leave Salford trailing at the break 12-10.
The first piece of significant action of the second half saw Pauli Pauli sin binned for a high tackle. A magnificent try saving tackle from Rhys Williams and a video referee call of no try kept the Salford line intact.
The Dragons continued to probe and press the Red Devil’s defence. The resistance was finally broken after sustained pressure. Matt Whitley scored from close range. Maloney’s conversion gave Catalans an eight point cushion.
Salford kept battling and after some good work from Kris Welham and Sarginson it was James Greenwood who reached over to score. Inu converted to reduce the deficit to 18-16 with twenty minutes remaining.
The final quarter of the match was somewhat frantic with some thrilling excitement. Inu was denied a try by the video referee after a bit of confusion. After the hooted sounded on three occasions for the six to go rule salford surged down the field with the match on a knife edge.
Sam Kasiano was sin binned for a professional foul with three minutes to go leaving Inu a chance to level the scores. The penalty goal sailed over, 18-18.
Inu had two drop goal attempts as the clock ticked down but both fell short. The hooter sounded to send the teams to golden point extra time.
Salford managed to soundly defend the first set from the Dragons before chancing their arm down the left edge. A piece of magic saw Dan Sarginson charge through to win the match with a well deserved try.
Salford are in the hat for the semi final draw which will take place tomorrow. Eighty minutes from Wembley as we continue to chase the Challenge Cup rainbow.
Catalans 18 Salford 22.