We thought it was warm last weekend in Newcastle but today in Salford the temperature felt like being in the Sahara desert. Just walking to the ground you could feel the heat, no breeze at all. As the players jogged out at 3pm for kick off it was well over thirty degrees.
Catalans are probably a little more acclimatised to these conditions playing over in Perpignan and they opened the scoring with a try from Joe Chan in the eighth minute. The Dragons dominated the possession and territory for the majority of the first half but at times Salford’s defence was outstanding. Last ditch tackles, organisation and a real doggedness.
The Red Devils are one of the most clinical teams in the league on attack when they go through the gears. A slick passing move and a tremendous finish in the corner from Ken Sio got Salford’s first try. Their didn’t look enough space to squeeze in but Sio made the space with some classy wing play.
Joe Burgess came up with a very important bit of defence to keep the Dragons out and five minutes before half time Salford took the lead.
Ryan Brierley measured a perfect kick for Sio to score his second. 10-6.
As the half time hooter sounded Marc Sneyd edged Salford six points clear with a penalty goal. In the stifling heat the kick for two points was the right option.
Danny Addy was dumped into touch on the first play of the second half to throw the chance to the Dragons to batter the Salford line. For one reason or another six consecutive sets of six followed and a set restart. Once again Salford’s defence was heroic. Every player worked their socks off to get where they needed to be and make the tackle count.
After weathering this eight minute storm without touching the ball the Red Devils were like a boxer on the ropes swinging and swaying dodging the punches. Then off the back foot they landed a huge blow of their out to knock the stuffing out of the frustrated French side. Hooker Andy Ackers found Brodie Croft with a text book pass. Croft did the rest to race over for a well worked try.
Leading 18-6 Salford looked comfortable. When the chance came for more points from a penalty Sneyd again managed it taking the two on offer 20-6.
Salford seemed to hit the boost button as the game approached the final ten minutes. Kallum Watkins found Sio with another wonderful pass and Sio completed his hat trick. Sneyd booted the conversion off the touch line to give the home side a twenty point lead which was fully deserved.
The final try was another one to savour, a neat kick through and great support play even at this late stage in the match. Jack Ormondroyd backed up with only Fouad Yaha to beat and he wasn’t going to be denied crashing through the Dragons winger with incredible determination.
Salford kept the Dragons scoreless for seventy two minutes in what was an incredible defensive effort. The Red Devils once again entertained with five special tries but defence wins matches and builds the platform for the performance. The Dragons are chasing another Grand Final appearance but today they were humbled by a Salford team with a spirit and togetherness that is absolutely priceless.
Salford 32 Catalans 6.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos.