It was another lovely sunny Sunday afternoon at the AJ Bell Stadium. Salford came into the game low on numbers with Coach Paul Rowley only naming an eighteen man squad. His side however were in good form with four victories from their last five matches. St.Helens would be a stern test of how far this Salford side have come in 2022.
The pitch as usual looked immaculate at kick off on a picture postcard scene. The atmosphere was electric and you could sense the excitement amongst the Salford supporters. The rugby league the team have played in recent weeks had been so entertaining. Today would be the day when the Super League would take note of a side that is proving people wrong.
With Ryan Brierley out injured Dan Sarginson came back in at fullback after a very lengthy injury layoff. The rest of the spine remained settled. Sam Luckley returned from suspension along with Sitaleki Akauola.
The Red Devils settled into the game very well and rattled their illustrious visitors. Salford’s super quick tempo took Saints by surprise and a nice short pass sent Akauola over for the first try.
Ken Sio judged the kick off well and took the ball out to gain advantage further up the pitch. Just like last week in Toulouse Tim Lafai with a pass out the back put Joe Burgess in for a breath taking try. Salford were looking unstoppable and on the next play they roared up the field. Lafai again set Burgess away before the supporting Sarginson went over for Salford’s third try.
The Red Devils were playing with so much style and confidence it was a joy to watch.
This time they attacked the right edge. Sio took an absolute pearl of a pass before setting Kallum Watkins up for another terrific try. Marc Sneyd had kicked two from four to give Salford a 20-0 lead. It had been a golden twenty five minute spell leaving the Super League champions mesmerised.
Saints were making mistakes but a lot of that was down to the pressure and hunger of the Salford defence. Lazy marker play allowed Andy Ackers to cut loose. Burgess broke again and clicked effortlessly through the gears to score.
Marc Sneyd attempted a penalty goal on the hooter but the kick fell short. A 26-0 lead though was much deserved to leave the Salford supporters absolutely buzzing with what they had just witnessed.
If you’ve been watching Salford for a significant number of years you can be forgiven for being cautious even when your in front with a comfortable lead. Saints being a champion team full of international players were certainly capable of mounting a challenge in the second half.
Salford continued to work hard in defence. Every player filled in and did the graft that needed doing. The Red Devils weathered the early stages well and when the chance came boy did they take it. The hard working Elijah Taylor put Greg Burke over through a huge gap in the visitors defence.
Jack Welsby finally got Saints on the scoresheet in the fifty seventh minute with a well taken try.
Salford’s confidence was through the roof. The next try was sheer poetry in motion. Slick passing and tremendous ball movement saw Watkins race over for his second try.
Tim Lafai looked unplayable at times. So elusive evading tackles and his ability to offload a ball in impossible situations made him a constant threat. His opposite number Konrad Hurrell just couldn’t get to grips with him all afternoon.
Lafai broke again and Brodie Croft beat the Saints defence showing lighting pace to scorch over.
A strange decision from referee Jack Smith saw Taylor sin binned as Salford were punished by a barrage of penalties. Alex Walmersley powered over to round of the scoring.
This was a golden day for Salford. A team with its fair share of injuries and adversity but the spirt and resilience this team has makes them dangerous. Eight fantastic tries this afternoon makes them absolutely box office to watch at the moment. The players, coaches, staff and supporters deserve all the plaudits as they continue to prove people wrong. They also continue to do their great City Proud.
Salford 44 St.Helens 12.