After forty one years of disappointments in this fixture Salford arrived in St Helens on the back of a much improved performance last weekend in the Challenge Cup. That game may have ended in defeat but Richard Marshall’s side showed a gritty determination to stay in the arm wrestle working their socks off for the full eighty minutes. Lee Mossop’s try in the final moments must give the Red Devils of 2021 renewed confidence going into tonight’s fixture.
When you’ve not beaten a team for so long in a certain fixture the expectation isn’t really there so tonight Salford could perhaps play with the shackles off. Super League is a pressure competition week in week out and with a home match against Wigan coming up on Saturday tonight’s game would be a real test of resolve.
The month of May has seen many hours of miserable rainfall but the weather had took a turn in the right direction in time for kick off. The sun shone over Merseyside and the return of spectators to the stadium was a heart warming sign.
Every week we seem to talk about changes to the starting lineup, this week the changes seemed a little more subtle. Harvey Livett was replaced in the centres by Matty Costello, Andy Ackers returned at hooker in place of Danny Addy. Sebastine Ikahihifo dropped out at prop for Greg Burke and Ryan Lannon started in the second row in place of Pauli Pauli who took a spot on the bench.
The Salford players were greeted by a warm round of applause from the Saints supporters for the warm up.
The first action saw Andy Ackers leave the field for a head assessment which he failed. Chris Atkin came on to replace him at hooker.
A very solid start from the Red Devils forced the Saints into early errors. After forcing a drop out from a clever Kevin Brown kick on the next play Kallum Watkins was desperately unlucky not to score a try off a Tui Lolohea kick.
The first try of the match came in the twenty third minute, Alex Walmsley powered over from close range.
The first half developed into a fascinating arm wrestle. Both sides made errors but defended their lines heroically. The score line surprisingly stayed at just 6-0 to Saints at the break.
The home side got the perfect start to the second half turning defence into attack. Salford swept forward with an attacking kick but it was pouched by a Saints player and in real sucker punch style Theo Fages backed up to score an important try.
Salford kept battling away but didn’t quite have the know how to break down a mean Saints defence.
With just over a quarter of the match remaining a nice crisp passing move and a super finish by the corner post from Kevin Naiqama put Saints 16-0 up.
Salford continued to show plenty of character and bucket loads of endeavour throughout the second half but sadly that’s not always enough to win Rugby League matches.
Louis McCarthy Scarsbrook charged over for the fourth try of the night to seal the match for St.Helens. Coote’s conversion made the game safe at 22-0.
Former Salford player Fages controlled the match for Saints and was deservedly awarded the man of the match.
The final try of the evening came right on the hooter with the last play of the match. Regan Grace finishing off a nice move down the left edge.
Salford meet Wigan on Saturday at the AJ Bell Stadium when the loyal supporters will make a welcome return.
St.Helens 28 Salford 0