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Salford City Roosters ride luck to dodge relegation

Salford City Roosters survived their battle with relegation from the NCL Division 2 despite losing their last game of the season to Leigh East 22-50.

The Roosters only remain in the division thanks to rivals Dewsbury Celtic, who were deducted two points for fielding an ineligible player, alongside the inability of the three clubs below them to take advantage of their poor run of results.

A horrendous run with serious injuries, particularly to the fowards, played havoc with team selection and once again the club could only muster 15 players for the final game of the season.

Alex Edwards, Jake Lynch, Tom Pratt, Tom Smith and Bradley White all returned to the side that gave everything they had to try and finish the season with a win, but alas, it was not to be.

Andrew Muscat again impressed, as did Paul Morgan but there was no doubt about the man of the match on the day – centre Christian Higgins.

The home team started on the front foot but the visitors took the lead with their first attack on six minutes.

A penalty gave them good field position and Pat Grainey finished off a break from stand-out Martin Roden between the sticks, leaving Adam Holland an easy conversion (0-6).

Indeed Holland converted all five of the visitors’ first half tries.

Ryan Gray broke from his own half on and handed on to Curtis Littlewood who sent Roden over for a 10th minute try (0-12) and Roden turned provider on 16 minutes with a kick to the corner that saw Gray score (0-18).

It could have been more than a point a minute but for Klaus Ndinga’s try saving tackle on Sam Grainey after 18 minutes.

Pratt picked up a loose ball and sent White racing away on 21 minutes, only to be hauled down inches from the line.

Leigh not only survived but hit back with two tries in four minutes.

Sam Grainey stretched out to score in the corner on 32 minutes (0-24) and then Steve Keegan passed for Will Bishop to spin out of a tackle and score between the sticks (0-30).

Roosters did get on the scoreboard before half time though when Muscat was stopped close to the line and Lee Salisbury went over from dummy half.

Muscat added the conversion (6-30).

Bishop’s second try, converted by Holland on 45 minutes made the score 6-36, although Holland failed with his next attempt after a slick passing movement saw Josh Swift score wide out on 49 minutes.

At 6-40 with half an hour to play lesser teams may have folded but Salford got their act together and actually had the better of the last third of the game.

From the restart Ndinda managed to retrieve the ball off Brookes’ short kick off and then he popped up at on the wing to catch Muscat’s inch-perfect kick and score in the corner, although it was too wide an angle for Muscat to convert (10-40).

Curtis Littlewood scored for East off a great pass from Ihaka Watene on 55 minutes (10-46) and Holland improved it (10-46) but Roosters hit back again on 59 minutes.

Salisbury sent White over the line 15 metres from the posts and although Muscat missed the conversion he was given another kick at goal, which he converted (16-46) because White was fouled in the act of scoring resulting in a penalty try.

East completed their scoring with Sam Grainey’s second try on 66 minutes, albeit too far out for Holland to convert (16-50) only for Roosters to hit back straight away again.

White intercepted a pass on the half way line and surged between the sticks to leave Muscat an easy conversion (22-50).

That was the end of the scoring however as neither side could breach the others defence in the last 12 minutes.

The loss to Leigh left Salford without a win in their last 10 games.

But there has been no lack of effort from the players, who perhaps earned the luck that has kept the club in the mix for next season.

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