Salford’s Cat 3 U19s Red team’s cup run, and indeed season, came to and end on a saturated playing surface and in gale force winds, on Humberside, on Wednesday, when they faced Wyke Community College, in the knock-out cup.
The conditions, though, were of course the same for both sides. What completely disadvantaged the visiting Red Devils was the elongated shape of the pitch. What it considerably lacked in width it certainly made up for in length, and the consequent difficulties in playing expansive rugby of any kind, affected them considerably, and it took them quite some time to adapt to their surroundings, whilst their hosts took advantage by registering the first try and goal.
Nevertheless, with the advantage of the wind behind them Salford were able to ease themselves gradually, into the game, and got back into contention in the later stages of the half, by means of two tries, the second of which was converted.
The first came from Salford Man of the Match, loose-forward, Sam Eyres, who broke from the half way line, and showed both pace and power to round the full back and score out wide to narrow the deficit to two points.
Then just on half time, full back, Josh Stafford, fielded a kick on his own try line, jinked his way through the oncoming defenders, and then out-sprinted his chasers to score under the posts, giving Connor Aspey a straightforward, successful conversion attempt.
With such a significant wind in their favour, however, they really needed to have secured a much greater lead by half time, than the four-point advantage, they held in the 6-10 scoreline, and the home side lost no time in turning this around to establish a 21-10 lead.
The Red Devils, though, were to have the final say with a score in the corner from Connor Law, but, with the elements against them, converting from even the close proximity of the touchline to the posts proved too much for Aspey’s third attempt at goal which, had it been successful would have brought them to within one score of their hosts.
Coach, Danny Barton, was nevertheless pleased with his side’s endeavours in the appalling conditions:
“On such a narrow pitch it was always going to be a forward battle, and that was what it turned out to be. Wyke were obviously used to it and also had the added advantage of knowing what to expect, ahead of the game, which we didn’t.
“It was particularly difficult for out kickers who really needed to be putting long kicks down the middle of the field to turn the defence around, but with the wind behind them too many were carried into dead giving Wyke a number of seven-tackle sets.
“Half-time, unfortunately, came just at the wrong time for us because we had just got into the game, and could have built on that score to give us some cushioning. Instead, we gave away far too many penalties, in the second half, which deprived us of both field position and possession.”
It may have been a disappointing end to the season for the Red group, but this experience will certainly stand them in good stead for next season, when hopefully they can build upon it and possibly make further progress.
With their season duly at an end, there remains just the Black side to complete their fixtures over the next couple of weeks, starting with an away match at Carmel, next Wednesday.