Salford 32 Huddersfield 26
Following two consecutive away matches in the opening rounds of their season, which had left them still awaiting their first win of the season , the Red section of the Salford Red Devils Cat 3 U19s celebrated their first home match with a victory over high-flying Huddersfield Giants – a result which brought considerable satisfaction to coach, Danny Barton.
“It’s always good to get your first win of the season, if only for the confidence it brings to the players, going forward, and it was just reward for the work they had put in during the week leading up to the match.
“Whilst the development of the players is paramount in what we do, the wins are important in giving them belief in the systems and processes, which we are trying to instil into them. It gives them all the encouragement to persevere with everything.”
They will get even greater encouragement when they come to do the video review of their performance, later in the week, because there were some absolutely delightful spells of attacking play, on view.
“We scored some good tries and played some fine rugby, which is what we are all about. Just letting them have the freedom to express themselves on the field, and make their own decisions, in response to what they see, is great for their development.
“There was certainly an improvement in their skill level, which is what had let them down in their previous two games, when they hadn’t quite executed the plays as efficiently as was necessary. We had worked on that during the week, and it payed off this time.”
A scoreline of six tries told their own story but the final one of these, finished of by right winger, Josh Stafford, would have made Try of the Week, at any level. Starting with a break down the left by Sam Bardsley, from within his own half, he pushed off, and squirmed out of would-be tackles, to get an offload out to his support.
The ball was then moved through several pairs of hands, with each pass being timed to perfection to produce an overlap on the right. Even then, the try still needed some scoring, which Stafford did, rounding his opposite number with panache, and even circling round to go closer to the posts, to end a purple patch of around fifteen to twenty minutes, in which the Red devils had drawn well ahead to 32-10.
“That’s what I know they have the ability to do, having been involved with them from the age of fifteen. I know they are more than capable of playing really good rugby, though, as we saw for the last ten to twelve minutes, they are still liable to make some rash decisions.”
In that final period of the game, as a result of some quite basic errors, that most impressive winning lead was dramatically cut to a mere six points which left them hanging on by the fingernails, for the last five minutes.
“We try to instil in them the confidence to play the game as they see it, but that sometimes has to include accepting the mistakes or errors of judgement that will invariably creep in, at times. We shouldn’t have let them back into the game at that point, by putting on even more points, but the eradication of these errors is something which will come, over the course of the season.
“We will be looking at that last period on the video first off, but will also emphasise the importance of their defence during that period when twice at the start of sets, by sheer weight of numbers they forced Huddersfield players into touch on the first tackle to recover possession and help themsleves hold out against the visitors’ onslaught.”
Other Salford tries were scored by Austin Downham, Connor Aspey, Will Toon, Will Timmins, and Connor Law, while Dan Goddard was successful with six conversions.
Winstanley 52 Salford 4
The U19s were beset by misfortune from the outset of their first away visit of the season, particularly from injuries, with a total of only sixteen fit players available to travel and lock horns with Winstanley College.
Unfortunately, numbers were further diminished when one player fell ill on the journey, whilst early injuries to three others depleted the side even further, and although captain, James McKenna, returned with a badly cut head to lead valiantly from the front, Chad Wriggley’s damaged shoulder meant that he could contribute with one arm only, out on the wing.
Winstanley, for their part, had a squad of twenty-one, which meant that they could spell players in comfort, compared with coach, Jay Boyd, who was left with a bare thirteen, all of whom had to keep going without respite.
“I was very proud of the way that the boys gave it their all in such difficult circumstances, against a very good Winstanley side, and kept going right up to the final whistle.”
With the score at 14-0, the Red Devils did get on the scoreboard when a quick play-the-ball by Will Pettigrew enabled quick hands to pass to the left, where loose forward Josh Henry dived over in the corner.