Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Reds run riot
Luke Robinson was the tormentor-in-chief for the visitors, distributing superbly, kicking intelligently and proving a constant threat to the home defence with ball in hand.
Robinson was ably supported by his half-back partner Andrew Dunemann, and their calm composure was in stark contrast to their Wakefield opponents, who made a succession of needless handling errors in near-perfect conditions.
The Reds ran in five tries in the first half as Wakefield wilted all too easily under the blazing sun and the game was effectively over as a contest by half-time.
With influential playmaker Jamie Rooney returning from a two-game suspension for Wakefield, hopes were high at Belle Vue before kick-off.
But it was the visitors who played all the quality rugby in the opening stages. They opened the scoring in the second minute when Robinson spotted a gap in the Wakefield defence and made a sharp break before popping the ball back inside for Ian Sibbit to score. David Hodgson added the extras.
The home side were made to pay for a series of handling errors in the 16th minute when stand-off Dunemann drifted across the field and fed Robinson on a sharp angle to slide in under the posts. Hodgson added his second conversion.
Dunemann was involved again in the visitors? next try when he fizzed a flat pass to Andrew Brocklehurst and the second-row wriggled his way over to extend Salford?s lead.
Hodgson was unable to convert but the momentum was with Karl Harrison?s side.
Salford?s fourth try came in the 27th minute when replacement Paul Highton sliced through the paper-thin Wakefield defence to beat four men on his way to the line.
Ryan Atkins bulldozed his way over from close range after 30 minutes to get the home side on the scoreboard, and Rooney?s conversion closed the gap, but Karl Fitzpatrick added Salford?s fifth try just before the break. Hodgson?s conversion made it 28-6.
Whatever Tony Smith said to his players at half-time had the desired effect as captain Monty Betham powered over to score two minutes after the break. Rooney converted to make it 28-12.
But the Reds were in too much control to allow their lead to ebb away, and they rode out Wakefield?s charge with some ease.
Robinson continued to pull the strings, and it came as no surprise when Fitzpatrick scored his second try of the day midway through the second half.
Hodgson kicked his fifth conversion of the afternoon to make it 34-12, and despite Rooney?s late converted try there was no hiding the gap in class between the two sides.
Stephen Myler?s late penalty made it 36-18 at the final whistle.
Wakefield (6) 18. Tries: Atkins, Betham, Rooney. Goals: Rooney 3.
Salford (28) 36. Tries: Sibbit, Robinson, Brocklehurst, Highton, Fitzpatrick 2. Goals: Hodgson 5, Myler.
Wakefield: Halpenny, White, Atkins, Demetriou, Tadulala, Rooney, Jeffries, Watene, March, Griffin, Solomona, Catic, Betham. Replacements: Korkidas, MacGillivray, Applegarth, Saxton.
Salford: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Littler, Moule, Langi, Dunemann, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Rutgerson, Brocklehurst, Sibbit, Finnigan. Replacements: Myler, Haggerty, Highton, Adamson.
Referee: P Bentham (Warrington)