Salford City Roosters received a unexpected boost in the lead up to Saturdays game when Dewsbury Celtic were found guilty of fielding a ineligible player in games this season and they were deducted 2 points by the disciplinary committee. This ruling saw the Roosters move out of the relegation spots 1 point above Celtic and 2 above Stanningley. Unfortunately, the curse of Summer Rugby struck the Roosters on game day with several players attending Marc Jones’ wedding, added to a lengthy injury list, leaving the Roosters with no substitutes for the visit of the champions – Hunslet Club Parkside.
The Leeds club predictably won the game easily but the final scoreline does not do justice to the effort displayed by the Roosters. It’s difficult to pick out individuals after a terrific “backs to the wall” performance by everyone of the players but the choice of man of the match was very popular and unanimous. Wingers rarely get man of the match awards unless they have scored 3 or 4 tries but Klaus Ndinga took the accolade for his defensive showing – popping up all over the pitch, looking for work and pulling off a string of text book tackles.
The visitors threatened to take the lead as early as the second minute when Jake Corney broke free down the wing only to be caught by Tom Smith with a last ditch try saving tackle. 4 minutes later however Jamie Fields off loaded for Chris Boyce to score between the sticks leaving Fields an easy conversion (0-6).
On 9 minutes Roosters came close to equalizing when Christian Higgins spun out of a tackle but lost control as he attempted the ground the ball whilst on his back, and then the Leeds side added a unconverted try on 13 minutes with a powerful run and try from Omar Al Wari (0-10). The Leeds side then made it 0-16 on 16 minutes with Adam Biscomb breaking from half way and handing off two defenders to score a try that Fields improved.
Kieran Murphy was the next try scorer for Hunslet on 23 minutes, although change kicker Andy Hullock missed the conversion attempt (0-20), but he made no mistake with his second attempt after Harris scored on 29 minutes (0-26). Finally a second try from Al Wari converted by Fields saw the Roosters trail at half time 0-32.
Roosters re-grouped at half time and rather than let their heads go down they came out fighting in the second half and got on the scoreboard inside 2 minutes when Andrew Muscat chipped over the defence and followed up to take advantage of Hullock dropping the ball before racing between the sticks for a try that he also converted (6-32).
On 49 minutes Salford shocked the visitors with another Muscat converted try – George Kemp using his pace and power to score between the sticks and the Roosters had their best period of the game as they kept the score to 12-32 until the 57th minute when Hullock broke down the wing and went round the posts before gifting Luke O’Malley a try that Fields converted (12-38).
Unfortunately for the Roosters they had given everything they had in the first hour and Hunslet upped their game to score at regular intervals, going over for another 6 tries of which Fields improved 4 of them.
On the hour Harris broke but only to be denied by a try saving tackle from Kemp, although with the Roosters defence still getting organised O’Malley went in for his second try (12-44). Danny Harrison’s try in the corner on 63 minutes made it 12-48 and O’Malley completed his hat trick on 66 minutes (12-52).
Jake Corney went over for the Leeds team on 70 minutes (12-58) and when Roosters were penalised for off side at the re-start Hunslet took full advantage to score through Ricky Hazelwood (12-64). The final score came in the final minute with Al Wari also completing his hat trick (12-70).
The Roosters were cheered up after the game with the news that Dewsbury Celtic and Stanningley had both been beaten. Celtic remain 1 point behind the Roosters with 1 game to play while Stanningley are 2 points behind with 2 games to play.
Roosters have a far superior points scoring difference to Stanningley so a victory at home to play off chasing Saddleworth Rangers next Saturday would virtually guarantee Roosters survival in division 2.