A hot, humid Sunday morning saw South Trafford entertain the Salford City Roosters in what promised to be an even encounter. STR needed a win to give themselves any hope of making the top 4 at the mid-season break. The previous week’s forfeited match left STR with no wiggle room. Ultimately the Raiders came up just short as costly errors in their own half allowed Salford to post enough points to take the spoils.
The match started with both sides going set for set. Forwards ran hard and the tackling was robust. The Roosters opened the scoring as their strong running No. 13 broke the line to stretch out of a tackle and plant the ball down.
STR responded with a perfect set of six. A strong run from Pat put the Raiders on the front foot. Tom scooted from dummy half to make good metres into the opposition’s half. A couple more strong forward drives got Salford back pedalling. Dan took this opportunity to break the line before some fluent passing down the line allowed Pat to finish the set off as he started it running strongly to cross for the try. Unfortunately the conversion hit the post and the kicking did prove costly today.
Buoyed by the score South Trafford were now getting on top. Dan made a fabulous break from his own half. And as with the first try the same player finished the set off by going over to score. James converted to extend the lead.
This was the point where the momentum of the game changed. Salford found touch from the restart and this was another Achilles heel for STR as it was the first of three such instances in the match. The Salford No. 13 crossed for his second try after running laterally across the line without a hand being laid on him before finding a small gap to cross out wide. The conversion was missed and the scores were level.
The Raiders ended the half on top with a fantastic break by Pat being halted 20 metres out. Frustratingly the half-time whistle went at this point with the Raiders ready to pounce. HT 10-10.
The second-half started disastrously as Salford kicked deep and a cheap Raiders knock-on close to their own line gave the Roosters field position. In the next set their big prop was given too much room to build momentum and crash over. A few minutes later the No. 13 completed his hat-trick after South Trafford coughed up possession in their own 20. Both tries were converted and it was now looking a tall order for the Raiders.
One thing you can’t criticise the U15s for is their never say die attitude. Responding to some sharp words from the coach the Raiders worked their way back into the game. Pat again produced a strong run and he caused havoc in Salford’s defence being pulled up just short. Ted then took a crash ball to go over out wide as Salford’s defence parted. The conversion was missed.
The Salford No 6 who had been slotting over the conversions then potted a fine drop goal from an acute angle to increase the lead from 8 to 9 points. A fine strike but it didn’t really make STR’s job any harder. And this time South Trafford managed to find touch from the kick-off. Dan found some space to cross out wide for an unconverted try but it did mean the Raiders were back within one score.
There were about 5 minutes remaining and the Raiders were getting a roll on. Back to back penalties immediately halted the roll and allowed Salford to play the game back in STR’s half. Throwing caution to the wind the Raiders coughed up possession in their own 20 and Salford took advantage of the error and an overlap to cross out wide for the match winning score. Time was up and the Raiders had lost for only the second time on the pitch during their league campaign.
The match was evenly contested with Salford scoring 5 tries to 4 and having enough game awareness to deserve the win. The No. 13 was undoubtedly the difference on the scoreboard with his hat-trick and the No 6’s kicking game kept the scoreboard ticking over and penning South Trafford back in their own half.
The Raiders played well in patches but didn’t provide a consistent enough performance to take the points. Well done to Salford in what was a clean, well-disciplined contest.
Going into the summer break the Raiders cannot now make the top 4. To come so close having started the season forfeiting their first 4 games is a testament to the U15s ability, team spirit and commitment to each other. It would have been fantastic to have got out on the field the week before to have a shot at the 4 but it wasn’t to be. Hopefully we will see the boys take to the pitch again in September when the play-offs come round. During the break practice the goal-kicking boys.
South Trafford Raiders 18 Salford City Roosters 27
Tries: Dan Haslett (2), Patrick Hetherington, Ted Williams
Goals: James Wynn (1)
Match report: Mike Britch