Salford City Reds returned to winning ways in style on Saturday afternoon with a ten try success against disappointing Bradford Bulls at The Willows.
Key to victory for the City Reds was Australian scrum-half Daniel Holdsworth who had a hand in several tries, scored one himself and kicked eight goals in a masterful display that was right up there with his top NRL performances. Centre Ashley Gibson also returned to the side after missing four games to claim a hat-trick and form part of a cohesive wing partnership with Mark Henry.
Things did not start in promising fashion for Salford when Ray Cashmere coughed up possession in the first set and the game was barely 90 seconds old when a short pass from Heath L’Estrange put skipper Andy Lynch over by the posts. In the absense of Patrick Ah Van, Marc Herbert asumed kicking duties and kicked the goal to put the Bulls six points to the good.
Another kick from Herbert minutes later had Jodie Broughton under pressure but Bradford could not take advantage and Salford launched their first attack five minutes in when Gibson made good inroads and a Holdsworth high bomb just evaded an on-rushing Stefan Ratchford.
At the other end Bradford forced a drop out but failed to take advantage despite some smart support play from the Bulls starting front row. Herbert saw a kick rebound back to his hands and did not hear the referees call that the tackle count had been wiped down.
Salford were building in confidence and had the game tied up after 16 minutes when Holdsworth grounded on the try line and goaled. A minute later Salford attacked in the midfield. Creative triangle Wayne Godwin, Matty Smith and Holdsworth all handled, before Henry took a wide ball to add a good finish.
Things got even better for the hosts in the 24th minute when Holdsworth sparked a move and Luke Patten handed the money ball on for Gibson to claim the first of his treble.
Try as they might, things would not stick for Bradford with Briggs trying to fire the left side attack without much success or support. Established international players Paul Sykes and Olivier Elima both put passes down and Salford had the last word of the half when the dangerous Patten slipped through on the left and Broughton finished a fifty metre attack for Holdsworth to hit his fourth goal and secure a 24-6 half-time advantage.
The second half started positively for Bradford and again, just two minutes in, they came up with a try when Matt Diskin spun away from Adam Sidlow and Herbert outpaced the defence over thirty metres. Sadly the scrum-half was not able to convert and the Bradford effort faltered amid more mistakes.
With Elima not really having an impact on the game, Salford stepped up to the plate and Stephen Wild, Godwin and Holdsworth were all involved in the build up before Matty Smith scampered over by the posts. A fifth goal from Holdsworth made it 30-10 and when young prop Tom Burgess was ajudged to have knocked on when the ball appeared to be ripped out and also fell injured, Salford quickly took advantage with a flowing sixty metre attack.
Started by Holdsworth’s vision, Chris Nero carved through the defence of his old team-mates and found Henry in full flight. As Kearney came across to tackle, Henry fired the ball inside for Gibson to ground a classy finish.
With Nero making good inroads with every carry and also winning a penalty, Salford sensed victory and ruthlessly took advantage. A superb backline play began on the left twenty metres out and ended with Gibson dashing in for his treble.
A good day for the City Reds became an excellent one as Ratchford touched down a Holdsworth grubber kick and the fifty point mark arrived in style as a six pass play resulted in Henry grabbing his second try.
Although Bradford claimed a consolation when Herbert intercepted a wayward Marc Sneyd pass, Salford finished strongly and the tenth try was a wonderful one with almost half the team involved before Henry turned the ball inside for Luke Adamson to claim a first try of the season and Holdsworth added further gloss to claim a personal haul of twenty points.
Salford: Luke Patten, Jodie Broughton, Stefan Ratchford, Ashley Gibson, Mark Henry; Matty Smith, Daniel Holdsworth, Ray Cashmere, Wayne Godwin, Ryan Boyle, Chris Nero, Vinnie Anderson, Stephen Wild. Subs: Luke Adamson, Iefeta Palea’aesina, Adam Sidlow, Marc Sneyd.
Tries: Holdsworth (16), Henry (17, 73), Gibson (24, 61, 64) Broughton (37), Smith (49), Ratchford (69), Adamson (79).
Goals: Holdsworth 8/10.
Bradford: Brett Kearney, Gareth Raynor, Paul Sykes, Chev Walker, Shaun Ainscough; Kyle Briggs, Marc Herbert; Andy Lynch, Heath L’Estrange, Craig Kopczak, Olivier Elima, Elliot Whitehead, Tom Olbison. Subs: Matt Diskin, Bryn Hargreaves, James Donaldson, Tom Burgess.
Tries: Lynch (2), Herbert (42, 77).
Goals: Herbert 2/3.
Referee: James Child.