Rugby League: Gregory rescues sodden Salford

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The Independent Online
Batley. . . .8

Salford. . .12

SALFORD narrowly survived an ordeal by immersion at Mount Pleasant, their substitute, Andy Gregory, coming to the rescue after Batley had threaten to submerge them in a sodden and sometimes farcical Regal Trophy tie last night.

Clearly intent on treating their waterlogged pitch as an ally rather than an obstacle, it was Batley who made all the early running. Jeremy Dyson opened the scoring after one minute, finding an island from which to kick a penalty after Salford had been ruled offside on their own possession.

Dyson was also within inches of the first try when he dived on to Richard Brook's kick as Batley, showing far more relish for the whole experience, went close again with an exchange of passes between Jimmy Irvine and Simon Wilson.

Salford continued to play like men who did not believe the match should be taking place. They may have had a point, but they paid the price after 23 minutes. Mark Scott splashed towards the sticks from dummy half, and although he was pulled down short, managed to squeeze an excellent pass away to Glen Tomlinson, architect of Batley's win over Sheffield Eagles in similar conditions in the previous round. Dyson added a simple conversion.

Salford's feeling that the world was against them intensified when Paul Forber was held on his back from their first genuine try-scoring chance two minutes before half- time.

Salford badly needed a change of attitude, and the arrival of Andy Gregory from the bench at half-time achieved just that. With Gregory at the helm and the benefit of playing downstream, Salford at last showed some enthusiasm and Terry O'Connor ploughed over six minutes into the half for Steve Blakeley to add the goal.

Finally using the conditions intelligently and forcing mistakes from Batley, Salford piled on the pressure and Gregory eventually found a gap for the converted try that put them ahead.

Batley made spirited efforts to strike back, but Salford clung on to the prize of a quarter-final at home to Hull this Sunday.

Batley: Wilson; Thornton, Moxon, Irvine, Dyson; Booth, Tomlinson; Parkinson, Scott, Brook (Heron, 50), Middleton, Walton, Cameron.

Salford: Jack; Critchley, Birkett, Williams, Ford; Blakeley, Brown (Gregory, 40); Young, Lee, O'Connor (Brown, 64), Forber, Tauro (Marsden, 40), Burgess.

Referee: D Atkin (York).