Rugby League: Salford benefit from a change of attitude

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Salford 11 Bradford 10

A MATCH-WINNING drop goal from the outstanding Mark Lee gave Salford the reward they deserved for a change of attitude and approach and ended their depressing slump.

Lee, playing stand-off for the first time since his schooldays, slotted over the winning point 11 minutes from time, sending last season's Champions to their third defeat in succession.

It was ironic that a kick should decide matters, because kicking was the one glaring weakness in Salford's game, their tally of four misses out of five - two of them absolute sitters - threatening to deny them the spoils until Lee connected.

Every other aspect of their play improved out of sight compared with some of the limp performances that had consigned them to five defeats in a row.

With forwards who fulfilled their job description by taking the ball forward, Salford had a platform that had been missing for weeks. Although they went behind to a Steve McNamara penalty, they dominated the first half, going ahead when Lee and Scott Martin set up Joss White and then battering the Bulls for 10 minutes solid before David Bradbury scored.

McNamara's second goal brought Bradford to within six points at half- time, which their coach, Matthew Elliott, called "a sensational result on the balance of play."

It was Salford who had to work hard in defence during the third quarter, but unlike some recent matches they proved ready and willing to do so, with the experienced David Hume and newcomer Malcolm Alker, typifying their determination.

A flash of inspiration from the largely ineffectual Robbie Paul threatened to undo all Salford's good work. Switched to scrum-half when Shaun Edwards was taken off, he broke clear to present the substitute, Paul Medley, with a try that McNamara goaled to bring the scores level.

All the momentum was suddenly with the Bull, but Salford steadied the situation and Lee did the necessary with the boot.

"I didn't strike it right and it was what the late Eddie Wareing would have called a bit of a flapper, but it went over," says Lee. "The last time I played stand-off was when I was 11 and I scored three tries. I might have to play there more often

"We dug deep today which shows what the spirit here is really like."

Salford: Broadbent, Rogers, Naylor, Martin, McAvoy, Wise, Lee, Southern, Alker, Savelio, J. Faimalo, Bradbury, Hulme. Substitutes: Randall, P. Edwards, Eccles, E. Faimalo.

Bradford: Spruce, Ekoku, Bradley, Vaikona, Hodgson, Paul, S. Edwards, Donougher, Graham, Reihana, Forshaw, Dwyer, McNamara. Substitutes: Crouthers, Knox, Fielden, Medley.

Referee: K. Kirkpatrick (Warwickshire).