It had been a week of big stories for Salford Red Devils and their supporters. The signing of halfback Brodie Croft from NRL side Brisbane Broncos is a significant statement for 2022 and a very exciting one. The news of Lee Mossop’s immediate retirement from Rugby League was hard to swallow. Lee has been a terrific professional in his time at Salford leading the team in some huge matches. On the Grand Final run back in 2019 for me he was up there with the best props in the country. I don’t think Lee’s shoulder problems are a new thing and it just shows the determination of him to play through that pain barrier for so long.
Lee Mossop brings out the match ball to a guard of honour.
Huddersfield Giants were the visitors this week and when the two sides met in June Salford won a real thrilling match 8-9.
With Ian Watson returning for the first time to the AJ Bell Stadium this would add plenty of spice to the fixture. Rugby League is a sport that can’t just be played solely on emotion. Both sides would need to stick to a game plan. For the Red Devils attack has been their achilles heal all season. Could they find the key to unlock the Giants defence?
Salford coach Richard Marshall had to shuffle his players once again with Covid and the track and trace system making some unavailable.
James Greenwood and Greg Burke both started in the pack with Sam Luckley on the bench. Also amongst the substitutes were loan players Dan Norman and Ellis Robson. Krisnan Inu came in at centre for Dan Sarginson. Elijah Taylor missed out. Josh Johnson started at prop for Salford filling the void left by Lee Mossop.
The Giants had young star Will Pryce at scrum half with former Salford players Josh Jones at second row and loose forward respectively. Joe Greenwood brother of Salford’s James also started.
The pitch was in immaculate condition after the recent treatment it had received and it was a warm dry evening with a slight breeze as the teams walked out for kick off.
It was a nervous start from both sides but Huddersfield had the upper hand with territory and took the lead from a Pryce penalty goal.
Andy Ackers came close to scoring a try but was tackled inches short by the resilient Giants defence.
At times in the first half Salford were like a motorbike struggling to start. The attack seemed flat and passes began to go astray. It was a mistake in their own half that led to the Giants first try. Tough running forward Matty English charged over with Pryce converting 0-8.
Pryce continued to pull the strings for the visitors with Huddersfield keeping Salford at arms length. Just before the break though Inu intercepted passing to Rhys Williams who showed tremendous pace to out sprint Pryce to score a super try. Inu converted 6-8. After a first half on the back foot Salford trailed by just two points at the break.
Tui Lolohea showed a piece of magic to score a fine try at the start of the second half. Inu pulled the kick wide but Salford led for the first time in the match 10-8.
The Giants were level shortly after though with a penalty goal from Pryce.
It was another penalty for a high tackle this time that edged Huddersfield in front. Pryce booted the goal 10-12.
A Huddersfield mistake in their own half presented Salford a chance. Chris Atkin grubber kicked into the in goal and the tallest man in the team Jack Ormondroyd sent the South Stand barmy with a try. Inu converted 16-12.
The Red Devils began to up the intensity levels and the crowd went with them.
Jack Ormondroyd on his way to touch down for that try.
Inu converted a penalty to edge Salford to a six point lead at 18-12 but the match remained on a knife edge.
Joe Burgess came up with a try saving tackle as the Giants threw the kitchen sink at Salford in the closing stages. Marshall’s men soaked it up working their socks off in defence. Their seemed a real togetherness in the side tonight, a real spirit to fight for each other.
With moments remaining Greg Burke and Leroy Cudjoe were sin binned for a fracas that involved most players on the pitch. The Giants were awarded the penalty and came storming down the pitch but they couldn’t breach the Salford defence.
Sam Luckley and Jack Ormondroyd, a picture paints a thousand words.
The final hooter sounded and deservedly Salford got the victory. It was a monumental effort to get the two points. Jack Ormondroyd and James Greenwood put in heroic performances in the pack. Andy Ackers all action display earned him the man of the match award. Josh Johnson and Sam Luckley both impressed running their blood to water. It was a team effort though that delighted the supporters. The crowd definitely played their part tonight creating a super atmosphere which lifted the players.
Salford face Leigh Centurions at the Leigh Sports Village next Sunday.
Salford 18 Huddersfield 12
Photos by Steve McCormick.