Salford Red Devils 10  Leigh Leopards 58                  Match Report

The toll taken by their recent Cup encounter with Wigan, on the Salford players, was laid bare in the team sheet circulated ahead of kick-off, with the number of significant absentees, predominantly through injury, not significantly less than those in the starting line-up.  Not only were the injured missed considerably in themselves for their contribution, their absences also caused some notable adjustments within the side, with a number of players being required to play in positions unfamiliar to them.

This particularly affected the three-quarter line, where the loss of pace was evident from the outset, with the visiting Leopards seemingly fresh as daisies, as they cut through the Red Devils’ defensive line with most unusual, comparative ease.  Once the home line had been broken, the support play of the visitors was sufficient to finish off the majority of their breaks with tries, most of which were converted from goals taken from very easy positions.

Whilst the writing was on the wall from the very outset, with the Leopards making their first clean break and crossing for a try to end their first set in the second minute, and then repeating the whole operation again three minutes later, the Red Devils did respond as they adjusted to the circumstances in which they found themselves, and, most creditably, managed to stem the flow of scores for increasingly lengthy periods, until eventually fatigue set in.

One really positive aspect for the home side was the performance and contribution of new recruit, second-rower, Jessica Panayiotou, who, in her very first game of rugby league acquitted herself extremely well in both defence and attack, all of which promises much for her future time with the club.  Replacement prop, Darcey Price and half-backs, Louise Fellingham and Demi Jones, were among others who worked tirelessly throughout the whole contest to aid the Salford cause.

With the odds so heavily stacked against them, it would not have been surprising had they failed to make any inroads of their own into Leigh’s mounting scoreline, but it owes much to their commitment as a team that there were periods in which they not only thwarted the visitors’ attacks, but also mounted their own spells of pressure, which brought two tries, both just over a minute from the end of each half.

In the first half it was winger, Lauren Ellison, who was put in at the left corner, after the Reds’ handling had worked an overlap for her, in the 38th minute, and then Demi Jones had the final say in the game, when she forced her way over, in the 78th minute close enough to add the goal and put them into double figures, all of which was an achievement in itself, all things considered.

SALFORD

Stephanie Gray, Alexandra Simpson, Samantha Evans, Victoria Kini, Lauren Ellison, Louise Fellingham, Demi-Lea Jones, Hannah Wicks, Brogan Evans, Emerald Hickey, Jessica Panayiotou, Megan Condliffe

Substitutes

Laura Bent, Darcy Price, Yasmin Parton Sotomayor, Casey Naylor