Just three weeks after our Academy side had delighted the first group of spectators to enjoy a rugby league game at the A J Bell Stadium this year with an impressive victory over the visiting Wales Academy, they made the same three-hour trip that the Welshmen had had to undertake on that previous occasion, in order to partake in the return fixture.
With a luxurious executive coach to fulfil the travelling requirements, the Salford club did the youngsters proud in their efforts to continue their run of having won every game so far this season, and while they did not quite manage to come with a victory to do that, they nevertheless returned home in the same stylish mode of transport, undefeated in all five of their games, thus far.
It was a squad a little depleted from that which had rattled up considerable scores in their last two outings, owing to a few injuries picked in the acquisition thereof. To compound the challenge they faced, they discovered just what a fine job their hosts are doing in strengthening their squad, with the inclusion of a number of recently acquired youngsters, which gave them an even more dominating physical presence.
As Salford’s coach, Danny Barton, was quick to point out, however, this is all to the good for Salford with the great success which this fine partnership between the two clubs is proving to be. The future does indeed look most promising, and the closeness of the final result shows just how well matched the two sides proved to be, on this occasion.
It was the home side which was first out of the blocks with an early score to give notice to the Red Devils that this was not going to be the romp for them that they had enjoyed three weeks earlier, but the visitors eventually settled and cancelled this out with a score of their own, and by halftime the two teams were trooping off with a 10-10 scoreline.
The second half was absolutely tit-for-tat, with each side taking it virtually in-turn to cross for tries, and only the accuracy of the conversions appeared to determine the ascendency for whichever of the two teams, at any point during the half.
With less than five minutes to go, it really did look as though the Welsh side was going to end up winning, as they led 34-30, but this Salford side is just not used to, nor prepared to, lose, and they drew level yet again with the final try of the game, leaving everything riding on the conversion attempt from Salford’s Man of the Match, Jack Stevens.
Unfortunately, the kick proved too difficult for him to land, and so the Red Devils returned home, initially somewhat subdued by not having won, but quickly recovering their spirits at remaining undefeated.
Salford Red Devils Development Academy: Morgan Kelly, Clifford Howard, Mike Los, Ben Wharton, Alec Walton, Charlie McManus, Jack Stevens, Kai Barker, Owen Turner, Tom Hunter, Lucas Prescott, Jack Kenway, Josh Connolly
Replacements: Billy Wadeson, Callum Hughes, Euan Hayes, Lucas Coan, Nathan Connell
Salford tries: Clifford Howard (3), Callum Hughes, Euan Hayes, Ben Wharton, Jack Stevens
Salford goals: Charlie McManus (2,) Jack Stevens