Salford’s coach, Brian Noble, was relieved to make a winning start to the Super League season after his revamped team hung on for an 18-14 success against a valiant Wakefield on Sunday.
The renamed Red Devils delighted a stadium record crowd of 7,102 as they raced into an 18-0 half-time lead thanks to tries from impressive back-row forwards Gareth Hock, Harrison Hansen and Andrew Dixon. But the Wildcats dominated the second half, scoring tries through Matt Ryan, Ali Lauitiiti and the outstanding Pita Godinet, to set up a thrilling finish.
“I was biting my fingernails,” Noble said. “I thought Wakefield were great in the second half and we didn’t have any ball. I was nervous.
“It’s a great lesson for us. I am absolutely delighted with the win and delighted with the day and the crowd. To have the game delayed to get people in the place was fabulous.”
Salford had 13 of their 14 close-season signings in their starting line-up but the biggest of them, England stand-off Rangi Chase, limped off midway through the first half.
“We don’t know how serious Rangi is yet and Junior [Sa’u] has done his groin, so we were scrambling around a bit at the end but that bit of courage and heart the boys showed got them over the line,” Noble added.
Danny Tickle piled up 24 points on his debut as Widnes coasted to an 11-try victory over relegation favourites London Broncos. Tickle, signed from Hull, scored a try and 10 goals after the Broncos had swept into an early lead.
Leeds extended their incredible opening-day record in Super League to 14 straight wins with a 34-6 victory over Hull KR at the newly named KC Lightstream Stadium.
Kirk Dixon passed the 1,000-point mark for Castleford as they came from behind for a hard-fought 36-18 victory at Odsal, which capped a miserable week for Bradford.