That’s just the way it is! Somethings will never change. That’s just the way it is! But don’t you believe them!
Forty two years of hurt at St.Helens came mighty close to ending last night in a match where not many people expected it to.
Salford we’re struggling with quite a fair few players missing from injury. Even the most optimistic supporters didn’t see this performance coming! The Red Devils came out with a fearless attitude. This seemed to stun the hosts who perhaps underestimated Paul Rowley’s side.
Both sides went toe to toe in the early stages with defences being very solid. Salford we’re determined and didn’t seem at all fazed by the fantastic side in front of them. Saints are a champion team that have everything in bucket loads. Salford matched them in every department. Every player did his job. The work ethic if you could bottle it would be absolutely priceless!
The first real action of the match saw Jack Ormondroyd burst through but with not much support the chance was gone.
Saints full back Jack Welsby was sin binned for what looked like dissent.
Kallum Watkins continued his good form in the back row with some shuddering tackles and the hosts new they were in a contest.
Morgan Escare started at fullback for the injured Ryan Brierley. The exciting Frenchman can be a really wizard with the ball and his piece of brilliance left Saints clutching at fresh air as he darted in to score a nice try. Chris Atkin converted and Salford led 0-6 after seventeen minutes.
Ben Davies hit back for Saints with a try from a good bit of work from Welsby. Tommy Mackinson missed the conversion but the home side had now raised the bar and the intensity level.
Former Salford hooker Joey Lussick had quite a responsibility all night with kicking duties and his neat kick near the line was fumbled by Escare leaving Welsby to collect and get the try to nudge Saints into the lead.
Right on the half time hooter Atkin attempted a penalty goal from quite a long distance but it didn’t have the legs. A thrilling first half ended 10-6.
Salford continued to take the game to Saints getting stuck in and not giving them the room which they tend to thrive off. The hosts became frustrated and were getting rattled at times.
With just over twenty minutes remaining Salford chanced their arm once again playing with a real exciting sense of freedom. The ball went left and Danny Addy found Matty Costello with a super pass. Atkin missed the conversion but the sides were locked at 10-10 going into the final quarter.
Mark Percival cleaned out Ken Sio and was shown the yellow card. Both sides came together as tempers flared in what was becoming a real tough battle. Salford hooker Amir Bourouh was also sent to the sin bin.
Atkin and Brodie Croft continued to work well causing Saints problems with their trickery. This looks a good partnership with Croft enjoying his role of bossing the game. Atkin darted through towards the line but lost the ball agonisingly for the Salford supporters behind the sticks.
Saints were awarded a penalty with twelve minutes remaining and Mackinson nudged them back in front at 12-10.
Salford refused to back down though and kept working showing a sensational spirit. The brand of Rugby was excellent at times with Saints struggling to cope with the ambitious offloads and positive go forward energy.
Mackinson landed another penalty late on but with just a minute remaining Chris Atkin raced away with an interception. In a breath taking piece of action Saints forward Morgan Knowles tracked back to pull off a sensational last ditch tackle to preserve victory for his team. Welsby was sin binned again for holding down in the aftermath but the Saints hung on for victory which was so tough on a Salford side who gave everything.
The Red Devils can take huge heart from the last two matches and can use the next week or two to prepare for the home games coming up in May.
That’s just the way it is? Well maybe sometime soon the Saints hoodoo will be laid to rest. From one to seventeen those players were a credit to the club last night and the supporters who witnessed the match can be very proud of them.
St.Helens meet Wigan in a Challenge Cup semi final next Saturday and that could be a real cracker.
St.Helens 14 Salford 10.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos