|21st Apr 2006|| Super League||AWAY ||7234 ||(HT:10:4)|
|Age in brackets is at time of match - Total average age for this team is 26. - ** non-playing sub|
MATCH REPORT : Saints claimed a frantic victory at The Willows to claim their fourteenth consecutive away win, but only after a surviving a thorough examination by an impressive Salford team.
It started quite straightforwardly, as Saints took the lead with their first set of possession in Salford’s half. The ball was moved from right to left through Paul Sculthorpe, Sean Long and Leon Pryce, before the stand-off’s offload found Jason Hooper who burrowed over the line.
Saints had received possession following a forward pass, but soon gifted their opponents the ball in the same manner. Helped further by a penalty, the home side were near Saints’ line and despite a loose pass that stalled their attacking momentum, ex-Wigan winger David Hodgson was able to score from 30 metres.
The missed conversion kept the Reds behind, and Saints soon restored their six-point advantage with a slightly fortuitous try. Long’s high bomb bomb wasn’t claimed, and the ball found its way back to Saints scrum-half who instantly hung a kick up for Ian Hardman to score.
With both sides showing little sign of Easter fatigue in a fast-paced first half, both sides looked dangerous without gaining the territory to cause damage. On a rare break Pryce was hauled down by Karl Fitzpatrick just yards short, while Luke Robinson’s grubber nearly found its way through a hesitant Saints defence as half-time approached.
Salford, riding high in engage Super League XI but facing their first back-to-back defeats in 2006, were occasionally guilty of panicking in attack.
Saints, however, were showing more composure, and their patience was beginning to find cracks in the Salford defensive line. Continuing to demonstrate the calm professionalism that embodies much of their play, Lyon’s penalty early in the second half stretched the gap to eight points.
Saints have conceded only 19 tries in their first ten Super League matches, and they showed their steely resolve in keeping Salford out despite a sustained barrage of pressure that tested Saints right across the pitch.
The closest the Reds to scoring came when prop forward Gareth Haggerty took a direct approach, but Jamie Lyon executed a perfect tackle to prevent the ball being grounded.
Hodgson then launched a fantastic 70-metre counter attack but his pass inside was spilt, and despite fifteen minutes of almost constant pressure, the scoreline remained unchanged.
Having soaked up this pressure, Saints went in search of the try that would clinch the game, and thought they had managed that at the first attempt. However Lee Gilmour’s try was disallowed for a marginal forward pass, and within sixty seconds Salford finally found a way through. Reds’ top-scorer Simon Finnigan crashed over with a short angled run to reduce Saints lead to just two points.
Confidence surged through the Reds, but in a nail-biting finale Salford could not quite bridge this gap…but they came as close as anyone yet to ending Saints perfect start to 2006.
Salford City Reds: Karl Fitzpatrick, David Hodgson, Stuart Littler, Aaron Moule, John Wilshere, Andrew Dunemann, Luke Robinson, Simon Baldwin, Macolm Alker, Paul Highton, Andy Coley, Andrew Brocklehurst, Simon Finnigan.
Subs: Gareth Haggerty, Chris Charles, Ryan Clayton, Stephen Myler.
T: Hodgson, Finnigan
G: Wilshere (1/2)
Saints: Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner, Jamie Lyon, Willie Talau, Ian Hardman, Leon Pryce, Sean Long, Paul Anderson, Keiron Cunningham, Nick Fozzard, Paul Sculthorpe, Lee Gilmour, Jason Hooper.
Subs: Jason Cayless, James Roby, Vinnie Anderson, James Graham.
T: Hooper, Hardman
G: Lyon (2/3)
Referee: R Silverwood
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