Updated: Friday, 17th May 2019 @ 1:55pm

Bower distraught as University of Manchester Rugby League edged out by rivals Salford

Bower distraught as University of Manchester Rugby League edged out by rivals Salford

By James Gilbert

University of Manchester Rugby League captain Chris Bower admitted his players were left ‘gutted’ by the hard-fought loss to Salford University at the Armitage ground on Wednesday.

In a tight derby game, Manchester fell just short in a match where mistakes at key moments proved to be the difference.

Bower believes his charges will put this right when the two sides meet again and for the season ahead.

He said: “We are obviously gutted. This game was ours for the taking and we dominated large parts of it, but little mistakes cost us dearly.

“I can’t wait for the next game and put this right because we should have won. I don't want to experience this feeling again.”

Manchester started off the stronger team with punching runs up the middle from the forwards and intelligent running out wide which made good inroads into the Salford half.

Both sides traded early tried but with some strong carrying at the tackle area from Manchester, gaps appeared in Salford’s defence, allowing Chris Bates and Luke Ince to score the first points for the home side.

Salford made good use of the boot and put the Manchester defence under intense aerial pressure, which paid dividends for the visitors as they scored twice to counter their dominance in midfield.

Late on in the first half, Salford were gifted two tries after a rare lapse of concentration in Manchester’s defence, aided by a loose interpretation of the offside rule by the officials.

Early on in the second half, it was clear Manchester were up for the challenge with some sternum clattering hits in defence and real guile in attack.

However, Salford scored against the run of play by capitalising on their opportunities by keeping Manchester pegged back in their own half.

After some choice words by man-of-the-match Josh Graham, Manchester were given a lifeline through a brilliant solo effort by Jonny Cottom, which was followed up with a try from Guy Michels, created by a superb display of handling and off-loading out of the tackle.

With time running out for Manchester, Salford showed real pragmatism in attack with some penetrating kicks down-field and for the first time in the game, scored their only try which hadn’t come off the back of a Manchester mistake.

Manchester desperately tried to claw back the deficit, epitomised by Jack Lynch’s effort for ‘hit of the season’, but it was all too late as Salford finished the game victorious.