Salford Red Devils cruised to their first Betfred Super League away victory of the season with a resounding 30-12 victory over Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Jake Bibby’s double along with further scores from Mark Flanagan, Ben Nakubuwai and Weller Hauraki ensured The Red Devils ran out deserved winners to earn a crucial two points in their bid to secure a place in the lucrative Super 8s.
Salford made a bright start to the contest and were unfortunate not to have scored in the fourth minute when Robert Lui’s forty-twenty forged a golden try-scoring opportunity – but Lui ultimately knocked the ball on to bring an end to the move.
The Red Devils’ perseverance paid dividends in the 13th minute when Mark Flanagan produced an exquisite step before diving past several Huddersfield defenders to cross over under the posts – Lui then added the extras to give Salford a 6 point lead.
Flanagan’s score seemed to instill some confidence into the Salford ranks and they were over again just two minutes later when some quick hands from Josh Jones and Flanagan allowed Ben Nakubuwai to burst into a huge gap in the Giants’ backline before powering over to cap off a fine move – Lui again converted the resulting goal.
Salford were running riot by this point and came close to scoring several minutes later. First, a clever move from Lui almost resulted in Niall Evalds touching down but the full-back slipped at the crucial moment before Junior Sa’u narrowly failed to capitalise on the loose ball from Jack Littlejohn’s cross-field kick just seconds later.
However, the hosts managed to swing the momentum in their favour and crossed over midway through the half when some slick passes from Danny Brough and Aaron Murphy provided Innes Senior with the opportunity to score – one which the young winger duly took after holding off Jake Bibby before diving over in the corner. Brough then landed the subsequent conversion to reduce the deficit to six points.
Huddersfield were reluctant to let Salford out of their half after Senior’s score and came close to scoring on three separate occasions after forcing The Reds into two goal-line drop outs before Matty English was held up thanks to a last ditch effort from Lama Tasi.
Salford were under the cosh and almost conceded once again as Senior looked destined to score in the left-hand corner before flicking the ball inside but the combined defensive efforts of Bibby and Weller Hauraki forced the winger and loose ball into touch.
After the interval, The Red Devils claimed the first points of the half when the hosts were penalised for an incorrect play-the-ball – Salford opted to kick at goal and Lui successfully converted the resulting goal in front of the sticks to give Salford an 8 point lead.
Salford were over again minutes later when Lui picked out the onrushing Hauraki who pierced through the Huddersfield line before crossing the whitewash, Lui then converted the resulting goal to take Salford up to the 20 point mark.
Despite the setback the hosts regrouped and clawed their way back into the contest when former Salford man Lee Gaskell’s short ball allowed Oliver Roberts to cross over unchallenged from close-range – Brough then added the extras.
A combination of individual errors and a number of excellent defensive displays resulted in a fairly open second period but the turning point of the half arrived in the final ten when Ukuma Ta’ai hit Flanagan with a late shot – Lui then landed the resulting goal from 32m out to extend the visitors’ lead to 10 points.
Things quickly went from bad to worse for The Giants when star-man Brough was sent off in the 76th minute for his verbal misconduct towards Referee James Child.
Salford crossed over again with three minutes left on the clock when Bibby emphatically finished off a free-flowing move in the right-hand corner after some sublime play from Lui and Kris Welham – however on this occasion Lui was unable to convert the resulting goal.
However, The Red Devils weren’t finished there as Weller Hauraki produced an excellent dummy before flicking the ball to Bibby who dived over for his second of the day as Salford cruised to victory.
Huddersfield Lineup: Rankin, McIntosh, Turner, Murphy, Senior, Gaskell, Brough, Ikahihifo, Leeming, Clough, Roberts, Ta’ai, Smith. Interchanges: Hinchcliffe, Walne, English, Mellor.
Salford Lineup: Evalds, Bibby, Sa’u, Welham, Johnson, Lui, Littlejohn, Nakubuwai, Tomkins, Mossop, Hauraki, Jones, Flanagan. Interchanges: Tasi, Kopczak, Lannon, Wood.
Huddersfield Scorers: Tries- Senior (23’), Roberts (55’) | Goals- Brough (24’, 56’
Salford Scorers: Tries- Flanagan (13’), Nakubuwai (15’), Hauraki (52’), Bibby (77’, 79’) | Goals- Lui (13’, 16’, 44’, 52’, 71’)
Man of the Match: Robert Lui
Referee: James Child Touch Judges: M Craven & D Bowmer