Huddersfield 8-9 Salford: Atkin drop goal earns Red Devils second win of season

Chris Atkin (18) of Salford Red Devils kicks a drop-goal to give Salford a 8-9 lead

Twelve-man Salford claimed their second Super League win of the season at the expense of their former coach Ian Watson, with half-back Chris Atkin sealing a 9-8 victory over Huddersfield with a 66th-minute drop goal.

The Giants, who had two tries disallowed, almost forced extra time at the John Smith’s Stadium as captain Aiden Sezer attempted a drop goal 90 seconds from the end but saw his kick rebound off an upright to sum up a sorry fortnight for his side.

The Red Devils played most of the match a man short after the 33rd-minute dismissal of second rower James Greenwood for a high tackle on Giants hooker Adam O’Brien, although there may be a case of mistaken identity, amid suggestions that the culprit was full-back Dan Sarginson, who was returning from a three-match ban.

Huddersfield looked disjointed, perhaps not surprisingly in view of the impact of Covid-19 which forced the postponement of last week’s game against Wigan and the closure of the club’s training ground for five days.

Although Salford were numerically disadvantaged, the Giants were badly hit by the loss of O’Brien, who was their only specialist hooker in the absence of James Cunningham and had been expected to play the full 80 minutes.

Ashton Golding, chosen to start in his recognised full-back role for his first appearance of the season, took on the dummy-half duties, with Lee Gaskell reverting to full-back.

The Giants began with Sezer on the bench but their captain was was brought into the action after only eight minutes when half-back Jack Cogger limped off.

Salford also had injury worries, losing their captain Lee Mossop in the warm-up but they opened the scoring against the run of play on 10 minutes when Andy Ackers forced his way over from dummy half for a trademark hooker’s try and Dec Patton added the conversion.

The momentum appeared to shift away from the Red Devils when they were reduced to 12 men but it took Huddersfield some time to get their act together.

Sezer kicked a goal from the penalty awarded for the high tackle on O’Brien but substitute Joe Wardle had a try disallowed for offside and Patton restored his side’s six-point lead with a penalty three minutes before the break.

The home side drew level seven minute into the second half when centre Ricky Leutele wrong-footed the Salford defence to get Joe Wardle charging over for their only try, which Sezer converted.

With the bulk of possession in favour of the Giants, the odds looked stacked against Salford but their 12-man defence held firm and they regained the lead on 65 minutes with a drop goal from Atkin.

Huddersfield continued to look the more dangerous team, particularly through England call-up Jake Wardle, and they ignored chances to tie the scores with a drop goal of their own as they went for the winning try.

Wardle was inches away from the line after one of his dashing runs, while left winger Leroy Cudjoe suffered the agony of losing his grip on the ball as he attempted to touch down in the corner.

When Sezer finally relented and went for a one-pointer, he was thwarted by the woodwork as the Giants went down to their second successive defeat.

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