No win at The Willows as Salford bring curtain down with defeat

Salford 18 Catalan Dragons 44

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Salford left the Willows very much as they have occupied it since their last golden era in the 1970s – with a display frustratingly short of the standard required to overcome the better teams in their division.

Even with the play-off bound Catalans in charitable mood, Salford could not depart on a high, tailing off badly in the last quarter of the match.

Their last game at their home for 110 years predictably drew a big crowd, not only their best of this final season but, at 10,146, also by some distance their highest-ever in Super League.

To take numbers like that to their new £16m, 12,000-capacity stadium at Barton, and even to improve on them as they aspire to do, the City Reds will have to perform consistently on the pitch – something they have not done since the days of Paul Charlton and David Watkins, who were among the luminaries assembled for this nostalgic occasion.

Their modern-day successors had three early let-offs as the Catalans squandered chances in a way that suggested an initial reluctance to be party-poopers. They overcame that, however, with two quick tries, from Setaimata Sa and Steve Menzies.

Salford undid some of the damage when Luke Patten got a clever one-handed pass away to Danny Williams, who scored his seventh try in six games since joining them late in the season. But two quick penalties handed the initiative back to the Dragons before Sa ran in his second after more good work by the veteran Menzies.

Salford clung on at half-time, thanks to a Luke Adamson try, which was well set up by Daniel Holdsworth's pass. A six-point deficit at that stage should have given Salford some welcome encouragement, but that gap was soon doubled when Lopeni Paea charged through some lame tackling.

Williams claimed his second for the Reds, but another series of penalties threw away the advantage. Ryan Boyle was sent to the sin-bin after another offence in the tackle and, in his absence, Thomas Bosc went over, before Ian Henderson added another and Menzies claimed the distinction of being the last try-scorer at the old ground.

The singing from a packed Shed still gave the closing stages an elegiac tone, but Salford's problems over the last few decades are the same ones that they will take with them to Barton.

"I'm sure that we'll get support like we did today," said chairman John Wilkinson, who has propped up the club for 30 years. "If we get these numbers at Barton, we can be a top club."

Salford: Patten; Broughton, Gibson, Gleeson, Williams; Ratchford, Holdsworth; Cashmere, Smith, Boyle, Henry, Adamson, Wild. Substitutes used: Godwin, Neal, Paleaaesina, Jewitt.

Catalans: Greenshields; Blanch, Millard, Sa, Vaccari; Bosc, Dureau; Ferriol, Henderson, Paea, Menzies, Casty, Mounis. Substitutes used: Menzies, Fakir, Baitieri, Pelissier.

Referee: B.Thaler (Wakefield).

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