Huddersfield 10  Salford 36                          Match Report – David Clegg

locke_featuredThe progression and momentum which has been building for a number of weeks eventually burst into fruition, on Saturday afternoon, when an absolutely superb display had the travelling Salford fans in seventh heaven of delight as the Red Devils ripped the mighty Giants apart, and blunted their attacking machine almost into submission. 

Yes, this was not against a club struggling in the lower reaches of Super League, but the team which had finished with the League Leaders Trophy at the end of last season.  With only one try they actually engineered for themselves – the other coming somewhat fortuitously from a spilled ball which was adjudged to have gone backwards -  they looked by the end of the game to have completely run out of ideas, so resolute had the Red Devils’ defence dealt with every attacking ploy Huddersfield had produced.

tommy_leeeThe crucial part of this aspect of the game came immediately after the resumption when the home side threw everything in their armoury at the Salford line, and very cleverly controlled position on the field, and to a certain extent possession.  Yet the Devils stood firm, producing their best defensive effort of the season, and by strict adherence to their structures, repelled the onslaught until the game swung back in their favour.

Tommy Lee (left) made an outstanding contribution to all this, with a massive number of tackles and playing the full game without a break.  Similarly, Theo Fages deserves recognition for the way he stood up to international second row forward, Brett Ferris, a man twice his size, and still found enough energy not only to launch attacks, but to sprint through for a crucial try on 61 mins.

And all this had to be undertaken, for the last twenty-one minutes with only twelve men, following the dismissal of prop, Lama Tasi, for an alleged late challenge on Danny Brough.  If anything, this merely galvanised the Devils further, and in fact they doubled their score in that last quarter of the game.

caton_brownIt will, however, be the sheer breathtaking incisiveness of the Salford attack, which will have impressed spectators most of all, and for that much has to be attributed to the pace of our two debutants.  Mason Caton-Brown’s (right) searing speed caught the Giants’ defence out on a number of occasions when he got on the outside of their line, and it was his long range try, on 49 mins, which really put the visitors in the driving seat. 

New Zealand international fullback, Kevin Locke, (above) as expected, brought a whole new class to the outfit.  True he ran well, and at speed, for his inaugural Super League try, on 68 mins, but it was his all round skills, carried out with a grace and elegance that was like poetry in motion.  Whether it was plucking kicks out of the air, scooping up, one handed, an awkwardly bouncing low ball, or slipping under pressure the most telling of passes, he produced them all with an ease that was a joy to watch.  Salford fans really have something to look forward to on Saturday evening when he makes his home debut.

tony_puletuaIt was apparent from the first set of possession, when loose forward Tony Puletua (left), who went on to have his best game in a Salford jersey, made the first of a number of ground gaining hit ups, that the Red Devils had come with a self belief that would take some denting, and when Junior Sa’u put Greg Johnson through, on 7 mins, the winger made for more from the opportunity than might have been expected, before being pulled down on the twenty.

It was Caton-Brown’s 60m break, 3 minutes later, that was really telling though, leading, as it did, to the first try, from Rangi Chase under the posts, to which Locke added his first points.

Four minutes later, Salford were back on the attack, and some clever handling moved the ball along the line, producing space aplenty for Matty Ashurst (below right) to go through to the right of the posts.  As with this one, Locke proceeded to convert successfully, all Salford’s remaining tries, to take the score now to 12-0, before Huddersfield replied with a try of their own from Wardle, on the back of a penalty, to open their account.

matty_ashurstAlthough the Giants were able to hold the Red Devils to this 12-4 scoreline for the remainder of the half, they were fortunate on a few occasions not to fall further behind, most notably on 30 mins when Cudjoe managed to cut across and overhaul Lock, who had a clear run to the line.  Then, on 38 mins, Caton-Brown was unable to hold Locke’s pass, with the line at his mercy, but of course he was able to make amends for this with the first score of the second half, taking the score to 18-4.

It was the way that the team responded to the loss of Tasi, though, which will have surprised many.  Within two minutes of his disappearing up the tunnel, Fages backed up a half break to chase through from 35m, to score under the posts. 24-4

The Devils, by now were unstoppable, and an attack down the right brought a further try, on 64 mins via Greg Johnson, who just managed, despite the attentions of a couple of defenders, to reach out his arm, with ball in hand, and place it down over the line.  Conversions from the touchline appeared to be meat and drink to the assured Kevin Locke, and he stretched the scoreline to 30-4.

With twelve minutes remaining,  Locke crowned his debut with a 60m sprint to the line, to complete the Salford scoring, and although the Giants crossed for a consolation try, on 71 mins, nothing could detract from the magnitude of the Red Devils’ victory, nor the impressiveness of the performance which brought it.