Salford 50  Cumbria 0                                   Match Report – David Clegg
Salford U16s opened up a most encouraging weekend for the Red Devils, on Saturday afternoon, when they took the visiting Cumbrian team apart with a blistering performance, the attacking part of which racked up a half century, while their defensive effort kept their line intact for the full eighty minutes.
For coach, Danny Barton, it was the dream start to their short season, he had not fully expected.
“To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised,” he admits.  “We had worked hard ahead of the match, but being the first match of the season, we had not overburdened them with too much detail, particularly with having had only six or seven training sessions.”
As with most coaches in his situation, it was of the defence upon which he lavished most praise.
“In attack, Cumbria threw a lot at us, and they had some really big players, but I was just really pleased with our attitude in defence,” he enthuses.  “We’ve got a couple of big props, but apart from them, Cumbria had the size on us; our lads were just tenacious in their tackling.”
Nevertheless, the scoring of fifty points, in what, at this age, is only a seventy minute game, is quite magnificent.  This started as early as the fifth minute, when left winger, William Lynch, was put in for the opening try.   Four minutes later, he had completed his brace with the next score, and from that point on, the team put their foot down to cross for a total of ten tries, with substitute, Matt Jones bagging the lion’s share, with a hat-trick.
It was, however, a good all-round team performance, with the initial impetus to the attacks coming from the hard graft of the forwards, especially props, Jonathan Thompson and Ben Bamber, before halves, Thomas Woodward and Owen Hayes, took charge of prising open the Cumbria defence.
“As good as the attack was, there were quite a few things we still have to work on, to improve it,” Danny insists, “because we made far too many unforced errors, which, in the wet conditions, and the first match of the season, you probably would expect.”
This gives the impression that the fifty points should have been rather more, a judgement, which Danny readily supports, though it should be conceded that the Cumbria lads did not really deserve to suffer that.
“Despite the scoreline, they kept going to the end, and a number of injuries made their task all the harder,” he explains, “but my job was to look after our side, and ensure that all nineteen lads got a run out.”
Not only that, he even had the luxury of being able to experiment with a few different pairings and combinations, and also trying players in different areas, so he felt that he had learned a lot from the outing.
“Some of the things worked really well, while others were less so,” is his judgement.
This is all to the good, as a rather more high profile encounter awaits them this coming Sunday, when they visit Newcastle, at the home of the Newcastle Falcons, in a curtain raiser ahead of the Newcastle Thunder v St Helens pre-season friendly.  With such a renowned team as the Saints visiting, even for a friendly, a larger than average crowd can be expected.
“It is now our job to bring the players back down to earth, and ensure that they are fully focused for this match,” Danny acknowledges.
Overcoming the lengthy journey will be the first priority, but as he points out, they have had the experience of it, last season, and a couple of stops, en route, proved helpful so they will be looking to repeat those, on Sunday, despite the early 11.30 kick off.
The size of the pitch, too, is an issue.
“It’s extremely big, and, last year  we had quite a bit of speed out wide,” Danny recalls, “ so it helped us a lot.  We’ll be aiming to utilise its width again this year.
“Every bit as important is that we maintain the high standards off the pitch, in the way that the lads conduct themselves.  Getting all those little things right is evidence of a well-disciplined, responsible, group of individuals.”
Finlay Swift, Jordan Burns, Elliot Farrelly (5G 2T), Ben Rowland, William Leach (2T), Owen Hayes (T), Thomas Woodward, Jonathan Thomas, Josh Grundy, Ben Bamber (T), Joe Lawler, Harry Saxton-Martin, Billy England, Tom Farr, Callum McGaughey, Jordan Hilton (T), Cameron Baker, Dane Wakefield, Matt Jones (3T)

Sat 28th Jan Cumbria Home 2pm
Sun 5th Feb Newcastle Thunder Away 11.30am
Sat 11th Feb Cumbria Away 2pm
Sat 18th Feb City of Hull Home 3pm
Sat 25th Feb London Broncos Home 2pm
4th March Widnes Away 2pm