Salford arrived at the John Smith’s Stadium full of confidence and when the players got off the bus to enter the stadium they seemed focused and very determined. Huddersfield Giants have been a tough side to beat in 2022. Runners up in the Challenge cup final and a third place finish in the Super League have been a significant improvement on last season.
Paul Rowley’s Salford side though have become a real threat to the Rugby League cartel. The top sides in the country are finding them so difficult to play against.
Rowley’s players came out to warm up on the pitch prior to kick off and the noise from behind the sticks in the away end was deafening. The supporters seemed fearless and almost expectant now after the recent run of matches.
Salford were now able to name a strong side after over coming a fair few injury struggles earlier in the season.
The match started in rip-roaring fashion. The Red Devils immediately got themselves on the front foot, ferocious in defence and delightful to watch when in possession. Always looking to promote the ball and keep the play flowing. It’s a swashbuckling style of play that you just can’t take your eyes off.
Marc Sneyd put the visitors in front with a penalty goal for a high tackle. Soon after Salford scored the first try of the afternoon. From a set scrum the play went left and Joe Burgess finished off a lovely move. The blistering start continued. The shell shocked Giants couldn’t stop Brodie Croft as he spilt the defence before putting Kallum Watkins over. Sneyd made it three out of three to put Salford 0-14 in front.
The Giants seemed to lack composure and thumped the kick off out on the full to gift Salford a penalty. The Red Devils then received another penalty within goal kicking range and Sneyd didn’t hesitate taking the two on offer 0-16.
Tui Lolohea kicked through as Huddersfield finally threatened. Ryan Brierley was adjudged to of taken out the Giants half back with a professional foul and referee Robert Hicks sent him to the sin bin. Salford’s Jack Ormondroyd and the Giants veteran prop Chris Hill clashed as tempers flared but it all added to the excitement and the crowd loved it. One of the biggest cheers of the half came after Salford heroically defended their try line like trojans with twelve men. Salford went in leading 0-16 at half time after a pretty faultless first half.
For the first ten minutes of the second half the Giants flexed their muscles and came out firing presumably after an ear bashing from coach Ian Watson. The visitors were solid, organised and full of energy. Everything Huddersfield tried Salford resiliently repelled.
Sneyd this time opted to attack from a penalty rather than take the two and a perfectly measured kick was pounced on by fullback Ryan Brierley who’s smile was a terrific sight as he celebrated a try that gave Huddersfield a mountain to climb.
Salford were now playing without Brodie Croft who they had lost to a head knock just before the break. This didn’t effect the shape of the team though as they stayed calm and composed. Chris Atkin was doing a fine job working with Sneyd. Atkin is so valuable to this Salford side he’s an absolute model professional and credit to the club.
In recent weeks all the talk has been about Salford’s attacking prowess and flair, scoring breath taking tries. This performance was built on magnificent defence, the ability to win every battle on the pitch no matter how big or small and a desire that if you could bottle it would be priceless.
Sneyd went for a drop goal late on but it went through the posts rather than over it and probably would of been a decent goal for Huddersfield Town.
Salford iced the cake when Andy Ackers broke superbly. Ackers has been in sensational form and he threw a dummy which the Giants has no answer to. A cracking try. The final hooter sounded and Sneyd added the conversion.
Salford’s journey in 2022 has been a real fairytale and one we hope continues next Saturday when they face St.Helens for a place in the Grand Final.
Huddersfield 0 Salford 28.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the pictures