Salford City Roosters recorded their first victory of the season but they made real hard work of it against a very game Stanningley side from Leeds. The Roosters just about deserved the two points and there was always a feeling throughout the game that they had the beating of the visitors, yet it was only in the last 9 minutes that they put the game beyond doubt.
Tom Pratt and Tom Smith were unavailable from the previous week and John they were replaced by John Brookes and Ben Connor who both played a full part in a superb defensive performance that was as much the reason for the Roosters victory as the points that were scored. All of the Roosters forwards particularly ran hard with Marc Jones and Mark Thomas leading the way, but it was full back Paul Morgan who took the man of the match award.
In the opening 10 minutes Roosters were forced to defend manfully after making mistake after mistake to keep the pressure on themselves, although the hard running of Jones and Thomas kept the danger away from the try line, then, on 11 minutes, the Salford side finally got to the other end of the pitch for the first time and came back with a try. Jones and Thomas again made the hard yards up the pitch before Steve Barry and Bradley White combined to put George Kemp in for a try that was just too far out for White to convert (4-0).
Roosters doubled the lead just 5 minutes later when Brookes put a high kick up to the Leeds full back Jackson Green then “pinched” the ball from him as they both jumped to retrieve it. He fed White who used Kemp as a foil to dummy his way past centre Dean Parker to score half way between the posts and corner. It was an off day for kickers with only 3 conversions from 8 attempts and the normally reliable White also missed this one (8-0).
To their credit Stanningley responded well to going two scores behind and they forced Roosters into a goal line drop out on 20 minutes when Martin Judge was tackled in goal. The home side defended the set well but conceded another drop out when Morgan collected a low kick but put a foot in touch. This time Roosters defence finally buckled when quick hands across the field through Stanningley’s man of the match Adam Benn, Callum Smithson and Brad Cox ended with winger Jack Brown scoring in the corner, too far out for Smithson to convert (8-4).
Roosters also forced a drop out on 29 minutes when White kicked on twice and Green was called on to boot the ball dead, and in a good competitive open game the first penalty (to Roosters) of the game didn’t come until the 32nd minute, although on 38 minutes Thomas responded to a punch on the arm by gesturing to head butt his assailant. There was no contact however and although Stanningley appealed for Thomas to “walk” the officials did not over react and a penalty was sufficient.
Ironically it was another penalty, given for off side and converted by Smithson that produced the last points of the half with the last kick of the half (8-6).
The second half started like a mirror image of the first, with Roosters doing all the pressing only for Stanningley to take the lead against the run of play on 51 minutes. The score was very similar to their first effort – drawing the Roosters into the middle then shipping the ball quickly wide through Green and Parker for Brown to force the ball down in the corner. Again Smithson found the angle too tight to convert (8-10).
After that score the visitors started to grow in confidence and there was nothing between the sides until 62 minutes when Salford regained the lead with quick thinking Lee Salisbury diving over the line direct from a play the ball after Connor had been stopped on the line. This time White added the conversion (14-10) and he also improved Roosters’ next try which came on 71 minutes after Morgan raced through to get a touch on White’s reverse kick just before the ball went dead (20-10).
With 10 points in it and 9 minutes to play Stanningley were still in with a chance but that chance was taken away from them on 75 minutes when Roosters put the game beyond doubt. Ben Connor rampaged down the middle scattering defenders before finally being hauled down 15 metres from the line, then a quick play the ball with the Stanningley defence is disorganised saw White and Andrew Muscat put Kemp over in the corner for another unconverted try (24-10).
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