SALFORD PROGRESS TO CUP SEMI-FINAL STAGE

Illingworth 6  Salford Red Devils 40                           Match Report

With almost remarkable predictability, Salford Red Devils’ women’s team continues to go from strength to strength, with last Sunday’s most impressive cup victory, away at Illingworth, taking them, after merely a month since their first competitive game, straight into the semi-finals of the League Cup.

The team was pleased to welcome back fullback, Luci McKeown, after missing the Dewsbury encounter, the previous week, and also Katie Garry onto the substitutes’ bench for what was to be her debut game.

That they really meant business was quite evident from the start, but was spelled out loud and clear after five minutes, when McKeown beat the incredible number of four players to go through to open the scoring, with Demi Jones slotting over the conversion.

Having laid down the gauntlet, it was then up to Illingworth to take up the challenge, and indeed they did just that, limiting the Salford opportunities for scoring, thereafter, for a full fifteen minutes, at the end of which McKeown seized the opportunity of adding another four points to her own growing tally, and put the Red Devils ten points ahead.

Yet again their hosts needed a response, and once again produced one, only this time it also produced a score of their own.  A cluster of penalties awarded to the home side gave them ample opportunity to set up a volley of attacks, over a four-minute period, and ultimately saw them crash through for a converted try, which really put them into contention, at 6-10

It did in fact take the visitors a further ten minutes to reassert their command on the game, and it was the intervention of Steph Gray, once again operating at right centre, who changed things in favour of the Reds.

She followed up her own overhead kick with a chase, filled with sheer determination, and then applied further soccer style skills to direct the ball into the vicinity of the try line, where, who should appear as if from nowhere to complete what must be one of the fastest hat-tricks to have been scored at this level, but Luci McKeown.

With Jones’s conversion the Salford team was able to retire to the changing-rooms at half time, with a 6-16 lead, and within three minutes of the resumption, following some magnificent carries by the forwards, which built up both momentum and an attacking platform, Lauren Ellison, on the right wing, charged down a kick then to beat the fullback to the ball for  what was probably a most crucial of tries, converted by McKeown.

The importance of this try was more the effect it had on the Illingworth side than its impact on the scoreboard, for to concede tries either side of half time, as they had done, is quite demoralising, despite their brave efforts in the first half, and  this one proved to be the one which opened the floodgates for a procession of scores.

Five minutes later slick hands from team captain, Louise Fellingham and McKeown, that had been started with an onward tip by Meg Condliffe, put Gray over near the corner, too far out for a successful conversion. 6-26

Kayleigh Bradshaw was next on the scoresheet with her try again being converted by McKeown, on 58 mins, with Fellingham crossing four minutes later, and Demi Jones returning to goal-kicking duties, to add the extras and take the Salford score to thirty-six.

Possibly the most popular try among the players, however, was their final one by Eponine Fletcher, with her first ever score, from a floating pass from Fellingham after she had combined with half back partner Jones, to ring up the forty.

After such a romp of a second half it is now going to be essential for the group to refocus, ahead of their next match which will involve the prospect of a long journey to Hull KR, this coming weekend.

SALFORD:

Luci McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Steph Gray, Alex Simpson, Eponine Fletcher, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Laura Bent, Tamzin Corcoran, Darcey Price, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Megan Condliffe

Substitutes:

Jenna Monks, Katie Garry, Casey Naylor, Abi Collins

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Sean Lunt, Omaga Photography, for Team Photograph above

Salford Red Devils 28  Dewsbury 16                          Match Report

A most spirited rally, in the final quarter of the game saw Salford’s women’s team continuing their successful start to the season, with a twelve-point victory, sealed by a brace of tries from full-back, Steph Gray, both of which were converted by Demi Jones.

With a number of their regular players missing, there was a slightly makeshift look about the team sheet, but, in fairness, every member of the side, whether newly in, or operating in a different position, came through with credit for their commitment to the cause, and for the way they all gelled together to secure the win.

It was a dream start to the game, for the Reds when first, the Dewsbury kick-off went straight into touch, and, from the ensuing penalty, Salford were well positioned to set up a series of attacks on the visitors’ line.  It took until the fourth minute, only, for them to open their account, with an excellent end-of-set cross-field kick finding the arms, of right centre, Lauren Ellison, who caught and grounded the ball in one single movement.

With a 4-0 advantage, and playing down the Schofield Rd slope, spectators eagerly awaited further tries to follow, but a combination of handling errors, which occurred whenever they got near to the Dewsbury line, compounded by a considerable number of penalties, primarily for offside and high tackles, let Dewsbury back into the game  It was from one such handling error, followed by two, late in set, penalties, that the visitors had sufficient possession to force an overlap, to draw level.

Buoyed by this success, the Yorkshire side continued to enjoy sufficient possession from further penalties to put Salford under significant pressure for several minutes, even forcing a goal-line drop-out, in the process.  What was significant, however, was that the magnificent Salford defence was able to soak up these continual assaults on their line, without conceding any further points.

Eventually, on 34 mins, they set up an attack which was not flawed by any errors, as the ball was moved, most tellingly, along the line to produce a three to one overlap, which provided left centre, Alex Simpson, with a try-scoring opportunity in the corner.  Most remarkably, Jones was successful with the conversion from the touchline, which sailed between the posts, to set up a 10-4, half-time scoreline.

The game really appeared to have swung in favour of the Red Devils, shortly after the restart, when cleverly- angled running by second rower, Viki Kini, opened up the defence on the right-hand side to set up Ellison, with her second try, goaled once again by Jones. 16-4

What had seemed to be a fairly comfortable lead at the time proved to be anything but, on 59 mins, when Dewsbury scored the second of two tries within three minutes of each other, and the successful conversions bringing the sides level.

Nothing can be more dispiriting than to see your lead eradicated completely, and the game was at the point at which it could have gone either way.  Dewsbury, with their tails up, and the benefit of the downward slope must have really fancied their chances, while the Red Devils were up against an uphill slog, in temperatures which had changed by a whole season, during the course of the afternoon, and in the hot sunshine they were finding the going most energy sapping.

This was when the team really showed its character, determination, and on the back of these, its confidence.  Alex Simpson, it was, who set the ball rolling, with a tremendous break from within her own twenty, to be tackled near to the half-way line, to the left of the field.  Taz Corcoran took up the baton from there, with a super scoot towards the visitors twenty, and a couple of tackles later Gray scythed through the middle for the first of her match-determining brace.

Every member of the side did their utmost to bring about the victory, and all can feel pride not just in the result but in their contribution in overcoming adversity at various stages of the match.  It is something they will be able to take into their next encounter, in the League Cup tie, away at Illingworth, next week.

SALFORD:

Steph Gray, Jenna Monks, Lauren Ellison, Alex Simpson, Eponine Fletcher, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Casey Naylor, Tamzin Corcoran, Darcey Price, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Victoria Kini, Megan Condliffe, Hannah Wicks, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Abi Collins, Laura Bent, Gabrielle Chaplin

PHOTOGRAPH: Courtesy of Sean Monks, with our thanks

Steph Gray grounding the ball firmly between the posts