It is testament to the progress the Salford team has made over the season that such an evenly contested encounter as this, and in such a crucial match, table-wise, ended with a Salford victory.
There have been other games, when, at the onset of adversity, the Red Devils have fallen apart, conceding first one score and then another, which was in fact exactly what happened on Friday night. Although this was against a rather depleted Wakefield side (but there again the Salford side was still a long way from being at full strength) twelve points can still so easily become eighteen, as we have seen previously.
The difference on Friday night was Salford’s response to that initial setback, which was met with resilience, focus and determination. it might also be true to say that the scoring of seventy points, the week before, had been a significant boost to their confidence.
In fact, Wakefield’s early scores came completely against the run of play, with the Red Devils having dominated possession and position, in the opening encounters, with good approach work, which has been a hallmark of their game all season, but with it, on Friday, falling down with final passes going astray or dropped to ground.
That trait was to be a facet of their game which continued for much of the match, with some players having rather more involvement in the errors than others. In defence, however, no-one was found wanting, and it is significant that after those two opening tries, the visitors’ only other points came from a penalty goal mid-way through the second half.
Not that they went without any further pressure on the Salford goal-line. In fact, they had periods of quite protracted, intense, efforts to try and score again, but Marshall’s men held firm, and not only repelled each wave of attack, but forced the visitors into hurried passes which also failed to find their mark, often sailing, untouched, over the touchline.
The tackle of the game undoubtedly came from the returning Seb Ikahihifo on his opposite number, who was pile-driven backwards into the ground. Ikahihifo celebrated by repeating much the same operation on the next Trinity player to handle, whose progress had just been halted, but not finished completely, by a couple of other Salford players.
Most importantly, the team retained their calmness, concentration and confidence, at their most vulnerable times of just before, and just after, half time. Going into the dressing room level, at the interval, must have given them quite a lift, and felt quite different from those matches when they had just gifted points to the opposition minutes beforehand. This time it set them up to take control in the second half.
Their attacking game proved to be personal successes for the right edge pairing of Krisnan Inu and Ken Sio, who, between them, crossed for three of Salford’s four tries. Inu not only scored two of those, but he also weighed in with four successful goal kicks out of five attempts, giving him a personal tally of sixteen points.
Sio not only scored the final try of the night, he had also crossed in the opening stages of the game, but had been held up over the line by a number of Wakefield defenders. He also contributed with several extremely telling hit ups into the heart of the Wakefield defence, which brought hard yardage of which bigger and stronger players would have been pleased.
Salford’s other try came from the flamboyant artistry of Morgan Escare, whose intricate footwork completely foxed the Trinity defence, and which started the Red Devils’ erosion into that twelve-point deficit.
Despite the individual contributions of those just identified, however, it was overall teamwork and team effort which won the day. Patience is a virtue, and there was certainly plenty of that in evidence throughout the team, on the night, as they stuck to their task, with and without the ball, and concentrated on producing their game plan, supporting each other, and covering for one another’s errors.
With another win now in the bag, they can turn their attention to those teams in the upper echelons of the table, and continue the momentum which they are quietly building up. A visit to the Emerald Headingley Stadium would be a good place to do exactly that.