Rovers return with a crucial win!
Salford coach Ian Watson replaced Niall Evalds on the wing with Greg Johnson and Josh Jones returned to the second-row with Feleti Mateo joining the bench. Luke Burgess was given a start in place of Craig Kopczak who joined Mateo amongst the substitutes. Both teams needed a win to bolster their Qualifiers hopes after both suffering away defeats last weekend.
Rovers were the first to score in the 2nd minute when winger Josh Mantellato dived over in the corner after keen Reds defence had kept the visitors from scoring under the posts. Mantellato landed a great conversion from almost touch for a 0-6 lead.
In the 12th minute Rovers went further ahead when Albert Kelly kicked on the sixth tackle,Gareth O’Brien slipped to allow James Greenwood to follow up and touchdown. Mantellato added the kick (0-12).
Five minutes later the Rovers extended their lead after the Reds were penalised. Mantellato made no mistake (0-14).
The Reds finally got into try-scoring action in the 23rd minute as they launched an attack on the Rovers line which ended with Junior Sau putting Mason Caton – Brown in by the flag for an unconverted try (4-14).
Mantellato then landed a simple penalty under the posts for a 4-16 advantage.
On the half-hour Rovers scored their third try when winger Ken Sio ran through Robert Lui’s feeble tackle from thirty yards out. Mantellato added his fifth kick to establish a commanding 4-22 lead.
With time running out the Reds were awarded a penalty and elected to take the kick with O’Brien slotting home for a half-time score of 6-22.
Salford just didn’t get going until half-way through the first half with Rovers making the most of their chances. The Red’s cause wasn’t helped by the heavy penalty count against them.
The Reds looked sure to score early in the half but Ben Murdoch –Masila lost the ball as he crossed the line and a chance went begging.
Rovers failed to clear a bomb by in the 53rd minute which led to O’Brien scampering through to score. He added the kick to give the Reds a sniff of a chance at 12-22.
Salford continued to fall foul of referee Robert Hicks with Mateo being penalised for not moving away from the tackle to give Mantellato an easy kick (12-24).
The Reds were piling on the pressure but just couldn’t breakdown the resolute Rovers defence.
A rare foray into the Reds half almost paid try scoring dividends for the Rovers but the wily Kelly snatched a drop-goal to nudge them further ahead at 12-25.
The Reds continued to try and haul themselves back into the game but to no avail and it was the visitors who provided the sucker punch when Thomas Minns latched on to a Kelly kick to score with just minutes remaining.
After a poor start the Reds were always chasing the game but they proved to be their own worst enemy with an error strewn jittery performance with numerous knock-ons and fumbled restarts taking its toll and they remain sixth with just one win from three games since the Super 8’s split.
Salford coach Ian Watson didn’t mince his words later: “It was error after error and with our poor completion rate we had no chance of winning the game.
“We have got to get together as a group and re-assess, but it is going to be difficult avoiding the fourth v fifth play-off (Million Pound) match now.
“Going to Leeds next is the be all and end all and we have to win. Super League has been and gone. We did a decent job there but this is a different competition.
“We don’t seem to be focused on how serious a competition this is, players’ careers are at stake.”
Salford: O’Brien; Caton-Brown,Sau,J Griffin,Johnson,Lui,Dobson,Burgess,Tomkins,G Griffin, Murdoch-Masila, Jones,Flanagan.
Referee: Mr R Hicks