Alker eases Salford's worries

Salford 30 London 12
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The Independent Online

Salford put an end to their nine-game losing streak in Super League as Gavin Clinch's tactical kicking and Malcolm Alker's industry proved too much for the Broncos. Salford scored four tries in 15 decisive minutes in the first half and there was no way back for London after that.

Both sides desperately needed the points, but Salford came closest to an early breakthrough when Paul Highton had a try from Stuart Littler's kick disallowed for offside. Their new recruit, Kevin McGuinness, showed up prominently in the early exchanges and soon Clinch stole the ball from Tom Haughey, but Dennis Moran's tackle took Littler into touch.

The home side's frustrations increased when Andy Johnson was held up by sheer weight of numbers after a sharp break and pass from hooker Alker. Not too much harm was done, because on the next play Clinch kicked through and Littler dived in to ground the ball, albeit with a spot of juggling.

The return of Alker after an emergency appendix operation was having a beneficial effect on Salford and it was his run that produced the penalty from which Chris Charles landed his second goal.

Salford were starting to play with confidence and they went further ahead from another clever kick by Clinch, with Joel Caine this time judging his run to perfection. Andy Coley was the next to open up the increasingly feeble London defence, with a barnstorming run and a well timed pass to allow the supporting Cliff Beverley to score.

It got even worse for the depressingly poor Broncos before half-time, when Paul Sykes fumbled a kick and Alker's quick thinking saw him release Anthony Stewart down the blind side for the fourth Salford try.

London hit back at the start of the second half through a bomb launched by the boot of their prop, Mitch Stringer. When the ball ran loose Lee Greenwood got downward pressure. Lee Sanderson converted. But another Clinch kick let Charles slide in for a try to add to his fifth goal.

Not even the sin-binning of Martin Moana and Paul Highton, along with London's Jason Netherton, interrupted Salford unduly, although Greenwood got a second try for the Broncos in the last minute.

It was a satisfactory end to what the Salford coach, Karl Harrison, called "a week of soul searching" after the 82-point thrashing at Hull. "I was humiliated by that and the players showed that they were as embarrassed by it as I was," he said.

Salford: Caine; Stewart, Littler, McGuinness, Kirk; Beverley, Clinch; Baynes, Alker, P Highton, Johnson, Coley, Charles. Substitutes used: Fitzpatrick, Moana, Baldwin, Haggerty.

London: Sykes; Greenwood, Haughey, Thomas, Wells; Barker, Moran; Retchless, Budworth, Stringer, Mbu, Netherton, Hart. Substitutes used: Trindall, Brocklehurst, D Highton, Sanderson.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).