Salford City Roosters welcomed back Martin Judge, Marc Jones and Marc Gilligan for the trip to Leeds to face unbeaten league leaders Hunslet Club Parkside but still made the trip with only 3 fit substitutes as Jake Lynch, Paul Hallam, Jake Carr, Callum Hughes and Mark Thomas were unavailable. Thomas had been on top form lately, but his replacement Marc Gilligan picked up where he left off and was easily the Roosters man of the match. George Kemp returned to the squad but wasn’t fit enough to take the field.
The Salford side predictably became the latest victims of Parkside’s seemingly unstoppable march towards the NCL division 2 title but everyone of the Roosters players can hold their heads up and say they gave it their best shot. It just wasn’t good enough on the day.
Roosters actually opened the scoring in the first minute when a high tackle 25 metres out allowed Bradley White to convert a penalty (2-0), although the game was only 6 minutes in when Craig Boot dived over in the corner for the first try and Hunslet’s best player – Jamie Fields converted for a 6-2 lead. That lead was doubled on 13 minutes when a high kick to the corner saw Mike Waite out jump Tom Smith to touch down 10 metres from the posts, leaving Fields an easier conversion (2-12).
With 12 points in 13 minutes a drubbing looked on the cards but Roosters steadied the ship and hit back with a try of their own on 22 minutes. White off loaded out of the tackle and Lomas, with his first touch in a Roosters shirt after coming on as a sub, passed for Will Rigby to squeeze over just inside the corner flag, too far out for White to convert (6-12).
On the half hour the home side looked odds on to score again as Sam Thorpe powered over the try line but he was denied as Tom Smith and Tom Pratt held him up over the line. Hunslet did add to their first half score however, on 33 minutes, when a “pinpoint” kick to the wing saw Danny Harrison leap to take the ball from Rigby’s finger tips to score in the corner. With Fields off the pitch at this point Rocky Price took over the goal kicking and proved just as accurate (6-18).
Five minutes into the second half there was a fracas after Parkside’s Adam Biscomb attempted to head butt Marc Gilligan and both players received yellow cards but the disruption affected the visitors more than the home side who had their best period of the game.
On 48 minutes Fields dropped the ball over the line under pressure from Judge, Andrew Muscat and Steve Barry, but the 51st minute signalled the start of 3 tries in 7 minutes, with Fields converting the first two. A Fields offload allowed Bradley to score (6-24) and 5 minutes later Bradley broke from 20 metres out and managed to ground the ball despite a good attempt from Rigby to stop him (6-30). Almost immediately Price “dummied” his way through the defensive line to score again (6-34).
On 63 minutes a Roosters attack broke down due to a stray pass and Jack Carvill streaked upfield for Hunslet only for Smith to chase back and pull off a try saving tackle. Smith’s effort was to no avail though Fields went over for a try that he also converted in the next play (6-40).
With 17 minutes still to play some teams would have folded at this point but, to their credit, the Roosters didn’t allow the home team to add to their score, and they caused a few problems of their own.
Roosters were aided by the 67th minute sin binning of Kyle McDermott for throwing a punch and they scored just before McDermott returned when Barry and Mike Foster combined to send Rigby stretching over in the corner again, but the angle was too tight for change kicker Muscat to improve (10-40). The scoreboard was not troubled again but the Salford side did force a goal line drop out 2 minutes from time when Christian Higgins made a great break and Barry followed up his own kick to panic full back Luke O’Mally into knocking on behind the line.