A neatly taken drop goal, by Newcastle, in the 78th minute was to prove decisive in the eventual result, turning a 16-16 deadlock to their advantage, before going on to force a more emphatic victory in the 85th minute, with an interception on the Salford try line to add an extra six points to their tally.
It was what went on in the previous seventy-seven minutes of play, however, that will have provided coach, Danny Barton, with most satisfaction, as his extremely young squad stood up manfully to their more experienced, and physically superior opponents, Newcastle Thunder, twice coming from behind to take a brief lead, and then later draw level, after the home side had opened up four and ten point leads.
With the tail end of Storm Ciara making conditions anything other than pleasant, it was the home side which settled first, as they asserted their physical prowess to dominate possession and field position, in the early stages, and, in the sixth minute, they went ahead with a try to left winger Elliot Shaw, who crossed in the corner, in flamboyant style.
The pressure which the Red Devils had been under, thus far, continued unabated, as they survived repeat sets to thwart the Thunder’s attempts to stretch their lead further. That they failed to do so was down to some excellent defensive efforts, on the visitors’ part, and, on 17 mins, they acquired their first attacking position, following a fine penalty kick which got them within sight of the Newcastle try line.
That sight proved too tempting to prop, Conner MacConnell; he put his head down and went on a powerful diagonal run to cross to the right of the posts. Joshua Rourke’s conversion put his side in front 4-6, for the next ten minutes, when a penalty to Newcastle at a scrum led to Sam Croston restoring their lead alongside Dan Coates’s conversion, to take the home team into half time, 10-6 ahead.
Six minutes into the second half, the try of the game opened up a ten point gap, when Thunder fullback, Alex Donaghy, fielded a clearing kick, and used his pace to go round the righthand Salford defence and outpace his chasers, to score under the posts. 16-6
The never-say-die Reds determined to regroup, which they did with some success, provided by Adam Holt slipping through a number of defenders, to put them within one score only. 16-10
A good refereeing decision to allow Salford advantage from a home handling error saw them use slick hands to move the ball swiftly out to the left, to gain some attacking position, and a tackle or so later, Tom Millington cut through to score by the posts, with Adam Holt adding the two extra points to tie the scores. with thirteen minutes to go.
From that point, the maturity of the home side became more and more apparent, and despite some heroics in defence, one of which prevented the Newcastle right winger cleanly grounding the ball in the corner, the home side looked more and more the team likely to score again, which they did with Donaghy’s drop goal, and Coates’s interception try.
Footage of the full match will be available to watch on RDTV.
Josh Rourke, Dafydd Jones, Dan Munt, Luis Roberts, Harry Warburton, Alex Smith, Adam Holt, Chris Worrall, Jamie Abram, Conner MacCallum, Henry Davies, Joe Digby, Tom Millington
Tayler Brown, Connor Aspey, Cain Crotty, Ben Heyes