Salford 8  City Of Hull 36                  Match Report – David Clegg
Having spent the first two weeks of their season facing teams from the RL Development Areas of Cumbria and Newcastle, it was always going to be a big challenge for the Salford U16s to adjust to taking on a Super League team.  The fact that the first of these was in the form of the combined strengths of Hull FC and Hull KR, under the banner of The City Of Hull, made it all the more so.
For thirty-five minutes, which is the length of each half at this level, though, the Salford youngsters made a very good fist of it, turning round at the interval only four points adrift.  The second half, however, was a different story as the increased pace of the game caught up with them, exacerbated by the visitors’ introduction of two extremely big and powerful players, whose individual size and strength proved too much for the Red Devils, and the game went away from them, as a result.
In point of fact, it was the Salford side which had the better of the opening exchanges, creating two early opportunities to open the scoring, but their failure to take either of these led to Hull’s grasping the initiative and taking a twelve point lead, after ten minutes.
The young Red Devils had been really looking forward to this encounter, however, with its opportunity for them to pit themselves against a much sterner opposition and were determined to give a good account of themselves, whatever the circumstances.  Consequently, they regrouped well and worked hard on defence to stem the flow of scores against them.
Their efforts showed little immediate reward, but towards half time scrum half, Tom Woodward, fed a clever pass to Joe Lawler, and the second rower ran a good angle to cross for their one and only try, which, despite being grounded out wide towards the touchline, was, nevertheless, converted extremely well by Owen Hayes, who went on to add a penalty goal, just before the interval.
Having got themselves back into contention, confidence in the team was high for the restart, but they had reckoned without the fire power the City of Hull had in reserve, on the bench.  These players’ arrival on the field, ten minutes into the second half, well and truly swung the game in their direction, and in the end they gained a comfortable victory.
Salford coach, Danny Barton, however, was far from disappointed with his charges’ first half response, and efforts throughout the game.
“I had tried to get across to them, during the week, just how big the jump in intensity this would be for them, but really it’s something you just have to experience for yourself to appreciate it,” he considers.  “In the end it was tiredness as much as anything, which took its toll.”
One reason behind this tiredness was the fact that he had been unable to field their full squad of twenty, owing to injury and unavailablility, whereas Hull were able to utilise their full complement.
Having now sampled the standard of top flight rugby, the players will need to employ this for this coming weekend’s home fixture, against London Broncos, for whilst this may, at first glance, appear to be a somewhat easier encounter, nothing could be further from the truth, as their results so far this season have shown.
“They are a Category 1 Academy,” explains Danny, “and they always seem to have a much better team than people would expect.  This year, though, they appear to have a particularly good group of players, and have run up a number of big scores, including a 74-0 victory over Cumbria, so this could be a similar game to last weekend’s for us.  We will prepare for exactly that.”
Finlay Swift, William Lynch, Dane Wakefield, Ben Rowland, Matt Jones, Owen Hayes, Thomas Woodward, Harry Ratcliffe, Josh Grundy, Ben Bamber, Harry Martin, Joe Lawler, Billy England, Jordan Burns, Jonathan Thomas, Cameron Baker, Callum McGaughey, Jordan Hilton
Referee  – Mr G Poumes
Touch Judges – T Arnold, I Arnold