Salford Red Devils welcomed Channel Four to the AJ Bell Stadium for this early afternoon kick off. Once again it was glorious sunshine and scorching hot temperatures. These sort of conditions are becoming a regular occurrence at home fixtures this season.
Huddersfield Giants were the visitors and their supporters travelled in numbers. The Giants were in good form sitting third place in the Super League table and now started to come into matches with the expectations to win given the resources available to coach Ian Watson.
Salford came into the match with plenty of confidence having won their last three home games scoring 150 points along the way.
This looked another difficult assignment for Paul Rowley’s side playing against a team that have become very tough to beat and hard to score points against.
The Red Devils once again showed their intentions in the early stages by moving the ball wide and playing with the class and panache that’s caught opposing teams out many times already in 2022.
It took just three minutes for the games first try. A sweeping move to the right saw Deon Cross draw his man effortlessly to send Ken Sio over.
Former Salford star Tui Lolohea came up with a big error as he spilled the ball attempting an attacking kick. Joe Burgess scooped up possession and raced away to score.
With just twelve minutes on the clock Salford scored their third try. This time a speculative kick threw was finished superbly by Kallum Watkins. Marc Sneyd made it two from three with the conversions leaving the Giants stunned and trailing 16-0.
Once again the rugby league on show was an absolute joy to watch. Everything seemed to run like clock work for Salford with Sneyd, Brodie Croft and Ryan Brierley working away in the engine room at the heart of everything.
The Giants hit back out of nowhere and completely against the run of play. Chris McQueen stole the ball from Joe Burgess to trot over for a simple try.
The Red Devils hit back though and from a set scrum worked a lovely score. Brierley and Ken Sio linked up with a perfect passage of passing to send Salford fullback Brierley over for a try.
It was starting to look like another demolition job when the fifth try was scored. Sneyd found Tim Lafai with a pin point kick for the centre to touch down. The video referee was called upon and the match referee Liam Moore gave his on field decision as no try. The decision was overturned after the replays were checked and with Sneyd’s conversion Salford were in complete control 26-4.
Joe Burgess stopped a try for the Giants when he bundled Lewis Senior into touch but right on half time the game saw quite a crucial incident.
Croft was penalised for holding down as the hooter sounded and referee Moore sent the Salford stand off to the sin bin. Giants half back Oliver Russell kick the penalty to send his side in at the break trailing 26-6 but Salford would play the first ten minutes of the second half with twelve men.
The sin binning definitely stopped the Red Devils momentum and dominance as the Giants took their opportunity. Two quick tries from Sam Hewitt reduced the deficit to ten points at 26-16. Salford began to flap and lost composure, making mistakes and handing the initiative to the visitors.
The Red Devils have shown they can punish teams when their in the ascendancy but in this match they weathered the storm and managed the last twenty minutes perfectly. Sneyd was the architect, managing the game with all the experience he’s picked up in his illustrious career. First he converted a penalty goal to extend the lead to 28-16 and then with five minutes remaining Sneyd dropped a goal as calm as you like. The Salford supporters were craving a second half try to finish the Giants off and it was that man Sneyd who made it. A measured kick for substitute Harvey Livett had the home fans on their feet in awe.
Another fantastic victory for Salford keeps the playoff hopes alive. The Red Devils are beating the best teams in the league on a regular basis and the supporters will tell you they are an absolute joy to watch at the moment.
Next weekend will be another huge test when they travel to Perpignan to face Catalans Dragons. This Salford side seem to relish every challenge put in front of them. They are a credit to the club and the City. With two regular home matches remaining against Hull and Warrington if you’ve not seen a live game yet this year I’d highly recommend it. This team will have you royally entertained from minute one to eighty.
Salford 33 Huddersfield 16.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos.