In the week building up to the match a lot of the talk seemed to be around Ian Watson facing his former club and how the supporters would react. For Salford though they had to concentrate on the task in hand. They owed themselves, Richard Marshall and the Salford supporters redemption after two woeful performances in recent weeks.
Perhaps Watson’s departure from Salford wasn’t ideal. With the restrictions last year the supporters couldn’t say fair well either and it seemed to end a little soar. Watson worked wonders at Salford with the team reaching two major finals and some of the results and performances away from home particularly in the 2019 season helped to put the club and the City on the map.
Every coach in Super League is under pressure to perform and Marshall has taken the blame and the brunt of the criticism following the defeat at Hull Kingston Rovers. He was very noble and loyal to his players in protecting them. Surely now the Red Devils need to repay their coach and tonight seemed the perfect opportunity.
The weather was slightly cooler than of late with a bit of light drizzle in the air at kick off. The pitch looked in good shape and the stadium is one of the finest in the Super League. The travelling supporters from Salford contributed to a good atmosphere in what was the Giants first home match in front of their own fans in 2021.
Dan Sarginson returned for Salford replacing Morgan Escare at fullback. Joe Burgess and Ken Sio swapped positions from last week with Burgess playing centre and Sio on the wing. Declan Patton came in at stand off for Tui Lolohea and James Greenwood took Pauli Pauli’s place in the second row. Josh Johnson and Oliver Roberts returned on the bench with Sam Luckley missing out this week.
Huddersfield had former Salford player Luke Yates in their side starting at prop with Josh Jones the loose forward. Lee Gaskell and Jack Cogger started in the halves for the Giants with Aidan Sezer was on the bench.
It was a tight opening to the match with both sides completing their sets. Aidan Sezer replaced Jack Cogger in the eighth minute due to an injury.
Salford struck first, Jack Wells was stopped inches short before Andy Ackers darted over from the play the ball. Chris Atkin converted 0-6. The Red Devils were playing with plenty of enthusiasm and urgency. It was nice to see after the recent weeks struggles. Dan Sarginson seemed to give his side a huge boost with his blockbusting runs and no nonsense defence. After a hard working debut last week young on loan centre Ben Davies again was impressive.
With things going well seven minutes from half time Salford forward James Greenwood was shown a red card for a high tackle. Sezer kicked the penalty, 2-6.
Patton extended Salford’s advantage kicking a penalty goal just before the break. The lead was much deserved after a real solid first half from the Red Devils who had worked their socks to out play the Giants.
Huddersfield got the first points of the second half after some good support play. Back rower Joe Wardle found the space to touch down. Sezer levelled the scores at 8-8 with a successful conversion.
Despite being a man down Salford seemed to be organised and playing to a structure. As the match entered the final quarter it really was on a knife edge with both sides defending well and hunting a crucial mistake. The Red Devils defended well after a Giants forty twenty. Scrapping for each other to hold their line.
With fifteen minutes remaining Salford forced a drop out and from the next set calmly built pressure before Chris Atkin dropped a goal. 8-9.
On the next set Salford chanced their arm from a penalty electing to run it instead of taking the two points on offer. The Giants managed hold their line.
Frantic play at the opposite end saw Huddersfield move the ball out wide looking to find space with the man advantage. A try looked certain on the left edge but some how Salford’s cover defence got across to force a knock on.
Salford coach Richard Marshall was on the touch line as the match entered the final six minutes. The tension in the stadium was awesome. Giants coach Ian Watson barked out the orders to his players who went searching for a match winning score. The character from the Red Devils was remarkable and they forced another drop out.
Sezer attempted a drop goal with two minutes remaining it hit the post and bounced dangerously before Davies rescued it for Salford. Surely it would be Marshall’s night now and it certainly was. A thrilling match in West Yorkshire and Salford’s winning record on this ground continues. A heroic display which will hopefully give the team confidence in the coming weeks.
Huddersfield 8 Salford 9.