Finally it felt like spring on a bright sunny afternoon in Salford. After a month of rain in March the pitch still looked in immaculate condition for this much anticipated clash.
A lot of matches in Rugby League’s top flight competition are played on Thursday and Friday night’s these days. For me though their is something special about a Sunday afternoon fixture and the atmosphere inside the stadium was absolutely electric as the two sides walked out.
Salford coach Paul Rowley had to make changes after last weeks match at Wigan. The injured Tim Lafai was replaced by a very capable player in Matty Costello. Danny Addy started at loose forward with Ben Hellewell and Andrew Dixon on the bench.
The Giants had Will Pryce at fullback with Jake Connor and Oliver Russell in the halves. Former Salford players Tui Lolohea and Sebastine Ikahihifo were on the bench.
Both sides traded sets in the early stages with completion rates high. The first points came the Giants way from a Salford error. A wayward pass right in front of their own try line gift wrapped a try for Ashton Goulding.
Chris McQueen intercepted a Brodie Croft pass and on the next set the Giants took the two points on offer from a penalty to extend the lead to 0-8.
Salford’s Ryan Brierley was caught out from a Giants kick but somehow managed to rescue the situation superbly.
Salford were desperately seeking some points and Marc Sneyd provided them setting up Shane Wright with a lovely pass. Sneyd added the conversion 6-8.
Just before the half time break Salford were hit by a real hammer blow. A nice Giants move down the right was finished off by Owen Trout before the home side lost winger Joe Burgess to injury. Sam Stone moved to centre with Matty Costello going to wing as Paul Rowley shuffled things round.
Costello gave Salford a huge boost after the break with a spectacular finish to score in the corner. Sneyd failed to convert but The Red Devils were right back in contention at 10-14.
Salford found the Giants tough to break down though and when a kickable penalty came along the visitors edged out to 10-16 courtesy of Oliver Russell’s fourth conversion of the afternoon.
Trout scored his second try after charging through a huge gap in the tired Salford defence. This seemed to put the game out of Salford’s reach. Huddersfield’s pack were dominating with Jake Connor and Tui Lolohea dictating the play.
Chris McQueen popped up to score a late try but Salford had the last word keeping the ball alive well for Kallum Watkins to race over.
The Red Devils were second best in this match and now their small squad is being squeezed. With Andy Ackers, Alex Gerrard, Tim Lafai and Oliver Partington sidelined Joe Burgess could possibly be added to that list. Tyler Dupree again worked his socks of playing big minutes in another huge effort. Dupree needs some help from the rest of the pack if Salford are to get anything from the Leigh match next Saturday.
Salford 16 Huddersfield 26.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos.