Salford City Roosters started their NCL division 2 campaign with a defeat away against a very young, very talented Leigh East side who are among the favourites for promotion, and on this showing, who will have every chance of winning the title.
Roosters were their own worst enemies by turning the ball over cheaply and not completing sets, but they were not helped with by a 13-5 penalty count against them. The Roosters were not awarded a single penalty in the second half even though Tom Smith came off with a broken nose 6 minutes from time, the referee claiming it was not a high tackle.
The home side showed their intent right from the off and forced a goal line drop out on 2 minutes when George Kemp caught a kick but was tackled in goal. Four minutes later a penalty gave East the field position for man of the match Adam Holland to jink his way over for the opening try. Holland also added the conversion, the first of his 8 goals from 8 attempts (0-6).
Holland turned provider on 13 minutes when his pass sent Curt Littlewood away down the centre to draw full back Paul Morgan before passing for Josh Adudwummaa to score (0-12). At this point it looked like East would be able to score at will, but instead, the Roosters got their game together and had their best period of the match. On 22 minutes John Brookes fed Roosters’ man of the match Bradley White and his excellent short pass sent Andrew Muscat through a gap to record the visitors’ opening try, which White converted (6-12).
Roosters forced a goal line drop out on the half hour when White chased Morgan’s kick and pressured Littlewood into running the ball dead, but a relieving Holland penalty, in off the post, 5 minutes from half time nudged East further ahead 6-14, and there was still time for another converted try 2 minutes from the break. Three successive penalties took the Leigh side down the pitch and quick hands across the park through impressive scrum half Ihaka Watene and Josh Swift ended with a try in the corner for Billy Allred (6-20).
Four minutes into the second half a great break from Watene saw Allred score, only to have the effort ruled out for a forward pass, although it only took 3 more minutes for East to add a legal score. Holland ran onto a short pass from Adam Wilkes and stepped past 2 defenders to score his second try (6-26) and then Holland completed his hat trick on 53 minutes, stretching out of a tackle to force the ball down (6-32). Two minutes after that it was game over for the Salford team as a break from half way was finished off by Swift (6-38).
To be fair to the Roosters they didn’t crumble and they put some respectability on the scoreline with a couple of unconverted tries. White intercepted a loose pass on the hour and although he was brought down inches from the try line the ball was moved quickly across the pitch where Morgan sent Smith over in the corner (10-38).
On 67 minutes Steve Barry flipped pass out behind his back and White sent a long pass to the wing where Kemp beat his opposing winger to touch down just inside the corner flag (14-38). The final say went to the home team though, 3 minutes from time when Nick Ratcliffe dabbed the ball into the in-goal and Littlewood reacted quickest to get his hand to the ball just before it went dead (14-44).
This coming Saturday Roosters play their first home game against Bradford Dudley Hill.
Team:- 1/ Paul Morgan, 2/ Tom Smith, 3/ Andrew Muscat, 4, Martin Judge, 5/ George Kemp, 6/ Bradley White, 7/ John Brookes, 8/ Ben Connor, 9/ Mike Foster, 10/ Marc Gilligan, 11/ Tom Pratt, 12/ Danny Trimble, 13/ Steve Barry, 14/ Christian Higgins, 15/ Lee Salisbury, 16/ Will Rigby, 17/ Marc Jones.
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