Rugby league: Clinch power puts squeeze on Salford

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The Independent Online
Salford 16 Halifax 34

SALFORD DISCOVERED what better teams will find out in the Super League play-offs; that, if you give him the room, Gavin Clinch will destroy you.

Clinch did just that in the first half hour of this end of season affair at The Willows, scoring one try and helping to set up the other three as Halifax built up an impregnable lead.

The reasons why the two clubs' fortunes have diverged so far this season were there for all to see during the first half. A Salford side patched up with teenagers was always struggling to hold opposition that has proved it has the ability to test the best. Even with the luxury of starting with four front-liners on the bench, it looked from the outset a matter of how many Halifax would score.

Clinch and Martin Pearson set up Fereti Tuilagi after only five minutes and Clinch then began the move that saw Chris Chester and Simon Baldwin send in David Bouveng for another.

Clinch and Pearson combined again for Carl Gillespie to claim a third converted try and, when Clinch exchanged passes with Baldwin to go over himself, a landslide was in prospect.

But, maybe with one eye on forthcoming matches, Halifax became careless after that and a Salford team that had hardly been seen in attack put together a move through Lokeni Savelio and Peter Edwards that produced a try for Josh White early in the second half.

That had the effect of concentrating minds and Pearson and Jamie Bloem both scored long-range tries to emphasise Halifax's superiority.

The best that could be said of Salford was that their depleted side scrambled willingly in defence.

The result was that Salford grabbed two more tries; a second for White in what is likely to be his last appearance at The Willows and one from the substitute forward, Paul Southern.

But Halifax always looked to have plenty in reserve and they would have run away with it in even more emphatic style if they had not had four tries disallowed, three of them touched down by Paul Rowley, who tormented Salford with his pace when he was introduced.

Halifax could afford to regard this as little more than a training run, with their dress rehearsal for the play-offs against Leeds next Sunday, followed by the real thing a week later.

Salford: Broadbent, Penni, Martin, Littler, Svabic, Crompton, White, Savelio, Alker, J Faimalo, Forber, Highton, Edwards. Substitutes used: Waring, Randall, Southern, E Faimalo.

Halifax: Pearson, Tuilagi, Powell, Bloem, Bouveng, Chester, Clinch, Skerrett, Hall, Marshall, Gillespie, Clark, Baldwin. Substitutes used: Gibson, Harrison, Mercer, Rowley.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).