Salford City Reds head coach Brian Noble is thrilled his side’s recent hard work has paid off after Jordan James’ late try edged out Widnes Vikings on Magic Weekend.
The Reds clung on to victory thanks to scores from Lee Gaskell, Martin Gleeson, Theo Fages and two from James, despite Widnes’ Joe Mellor bagging a hat-trick and Kevin Brown crossing.
Noble was delighted his side bagged a late winner, having conceding a soft try moments earlier, and praised the determination his players showed in eventually winning the game.
“I’m really thrilled for the team because they have been working hard,” he said.
“Collectively we have worked hard for the last couple of weeks particularly and the result of that is perhaps in previous times we might have been on the wrong end of a result today.
“But they found a way to win and that was a pleasing aspect for them.
“The way we came back after conceding was really pleasing because the way we practised throughout the week was to do the things we did right to the death.”
Defences were on top until Gaskell intercepted a Widnes pass on his own try-line on the half-hour and ran the length of the field to score with Marc Sneyd adding the extras.
With four minutes left of the first-half, the Reds extended their lead to 12 points when James powered over under the posts before Sneyd landed his conversion.
But on the stroke of half-time Mellor collected Brown’s kick through to touch down with Jack Owens converting to reduce the deficit to six.
The Vikings were almost level on 47 minutes when Mellor kicked the ball forward twice before collecting to cross in the corner, but Owens missed the extras.
Gleeson restored Salford’s six-point lead on 64 minutes when the centre received the ball and found a gap in the Vikings’ defence to score but Sneyd missed his first kick of the afternoon.
However parity was restored just minutes later when Mellor completed his hat-trick, exploiting a hole in the Reds’ line before Owens fired over his kick.
Then on 71 minutes, Fages wriggled his way over the line and Sneyd landed the straight forward conversion to send Salford six points clear once more.
But again the Reds were pegged back when Vikings captain Brown forced his over from close range after 74 minutes and Owens’ kick levelled the scores.
And with two minutes remaining James got the winning score, breaking through the Widnes defence to stretch over as Sneyd sent over his fourth of the day.
Noble explained it was the improved performance rather than the result which was most important but conceded the players will enjoy being off the bottom of Super League.
“We didn’t need the result,” he said.
“We’re in the business of getting better and I think for the players’ belief and moving forward, if there’s a need element that’s it.
“My job is to keep them away from win and loss and to get them improving. They improved massively on last week and I’m hopeful they’ll keep improving.
“It is a thrill for the players to be off the bottom but it is a by-product. If you focus on the ladder, you’ll get into big trouble.
“Obviously they’ll be talking about it after the game about being off the bottom of the ladder and the challenge is now staying off the bottom.”
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