Salford coach Paul Rowley made just one change to his starting thirteen from the team that beat Castleford last Thursday. Rhys Williams came in on the wing to replace the injured Ken Sio. Ellis Longstaff came on to the bench.
Before kick off their was an emotional minutes silence for former Salford hero and club legend Mike Coulman. Mike passed away on Friday. He played for Salford between 1968 and 1983 making four hundred and six three appearances. Mike was an international in both codes of rugby and will be fondly remembered by so many people. A very humble and gentle man who achieved so much in sport!
Salford made the brighter start and were immediately on the front foot against their French visitors. The Red Devils first try came from an unlikely scorer in King Vuniyayawa but he took his chance well. Marc Sneyd converted and on the very next set booted a huge forty twenty kick. Salford failed to capitalise though making an error to let the Dragons off the hook.
Salford seemed a lot more organised than the Dragons who didn’t seem to settle into the game. Sneyd extended the lead to 8-0 with a penalty goal but from the kick off knocked on allowing the Dragons a chance to attack.
The ball went left and Tom Johnstone finished well on the flank to reduce the deficit. 8-4.
Salford lost Matty Costello to a head injury and his replacement Ellis Longstaff almost scored with his first touch but just couldn’t take the pass.
Salford needed another score to reflect the territory they’d had in the first half and it was Joe Burgess who broke to go charging down the pitch. Johnstone desperately dived to tackle the Salford flyer but momentum and a greasy playing surface saw Burgess slide over for a pivotal try. Sneyd converted to give Salford a deserved 14-4 lead at half time.
Dragons coach Steve McNamara must have tore in to his players in the half time team talk as they came out like a different side after the break.
Salford steadied the ship with another penalty goal from Sneyd, 16-4.
Catalans hit back with a sloppy try that Salford failed to deal with from a kick.
At times the game threatened to boil over as tempers flared and some of the hits were monstrous. An element of niggle crept in from the visitors who tried to knock Salford off their stride. This seemed to be working as the Red Devils were dragged into a real tussle in the middle. Both sides slugged it out but it was the Dragons who enjoyed all the possession and territory. Salford couldn’t get out of there own half. At 16-10 a drop goal would have been perfect but the field position and opportunity never came.
Both sets of players squared up as tempers eventually did boil over and referee Chris Kendall called both captains over for a talking too.
The Dragons kept on pressing and smashing the Salford try line but the Red Devils were dogged and defended desperately to hold firm.
With just ninety seconds left Adam Keighran went over to score for the visitors and his kick looked nailed on to level the scores and take the game to extra time. The supporters in the south stand made a huge noise and Keighran dragged the conversion wide. 16-14.
Just five seconds remained as Salford kicked off knowing that one tackle would win the match. The Dragons had no chance to fling the ball out wide because the Salford defence swamped them and the hooter sounded.
A monumental effort from Paul Rowley’s side to earn a very valuable two points. Salford have built some momentum in recent weeks and have now won three games on the trot going into the international break next weekend.
Salford 16 Catalans 14.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos.