As far as opening day matches go Salford had been handed the most daunting of them as they kicked off the 2021 season against Champions St.Helens.
The Red Devils were in their mostly black away strip with Saints in their traditional white shirt with the red vee.
The Headingley pitch looked in immaculate condition and good enough to play bowls on. A nice wide playing surface for two sides who like to play attractive and attacking rugby. Richard Marshall’s Red Devils have worked a lot on their defence in the close season and tonight it would most certainly get tested.
Salford were under the cosh straight away after Krisnan Inu came up with an error deep in his own half on the Red Devils first set with the ball. On the next set Saints made it count, Inu was caught out again under a high kick and Tommy Mackinson touched down right on the touch line.
After Saints failed to make touch from a penalty, Salford applied the pressure with four repeat sets but failed to post any points.
A teasing kick caught Dan Sarginson out and his knock on allowed Saints a big opportunity. They did get over the line on the next set only for the try to be ruled out by the video referee.
The game started to become a little frantic but there was plenty of excitement. Salford continued to ask questions with Kevin Brown giving the Saints defence plenty to worry about. That defence was very organised and tough to break down.
Mackinson added a penalty goal to nudge Saints 8-0 up just before the half hour mark.
Despite Salford’s resurgence it was another big error close to their own line which gifted Regan Grace a try.
As the half time hooter sounded Jack Welsby calmly slotted over a drop goal to send St.Helens in with a 13-0 lead.
Salford needed a score and when Welsby coughed up a towering Tui Lolohea kick the chance looked on. Again the attack looked a little disjointed and the Red Devils were penalised for obstruction.
A wonderful looping pass from Lolohea created a try for Ken Sio to get Salford on the scoreboard. Inu nailed the conversion as calm as you like off the touch line.
Danny Addy was particularly impressive with his machine like work rate. He put himself about as well with some good solid tackles. Elijah Taylor also worked very hard and he’s another player with a terrific engine.
Mark Percival picked Dan Sarginson’s pocket to score another try for Saints. Mackinson converted to make the lead look a little more commanding at 19-6.
Saints then began to turn the screw playing some typically flamboyant rugby. Salford dug in and refused to be turned over.
Mistakes had cost the Red Devils dearly and it was another Inu knock on which gifted Kevin Naiqama a try.
Alex Walmersley put the icing on the cake as he charged over some disappointing defence. The big prop took the ball from first receiver before crashing over for a try. Mackinson rounded of the scoring with a successful conversion.
Salford showed plenty of effort and endeavour but simple mistakes had a huge bearing on this result. Their is plenty of potential in this side and Salford will be looking to their next match to put things right.
The Red Devils are in action Easter Saturday when they take on Hull.
St.Helens 29 Salford 6