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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Unbeaten Salford Surge into Play-offs

UNBEATEN Salford will go into the end of season play-offs unbeaten and top of the table after securing two victories in the last week.

They won the Northern Section title on Sunday when they beat second-placed Manchester 25-18, and then went on to complete the season unbeaten with a 35-15 win over Nottingham University on Tuesday night.

With both those sides also going forward to the play-offs and results from the normal season being carried forward, it has been a crucially important seven days for Salford.

No other team had scored more than 20 goals at Nottingham prior to Tuesday’s game, but Salford were already 14-7 ahead at half time and continued to dominate afterwards.

Strong defence - especially from Popovic and Marsh - held a good Nottingham attack at bay, while Jack Hennessy and Aden Woodall were in free-scoring mode, with 12 and 10 respectively.

With a two week break before the play-offs start on February 27, Salford will be aiming to keep their momentum going for their opening match against Olympia, who made it all the way to the European Challenge Cup last season.

Salford’s crucial win over Manchester proved to be a thrilling encounter and a fitting way to decide the fate of the Northern title.

The Mancunians took a three-goal lead after just five minutes, but Salford reacted quickly with a compact 6-0 defensive line which frustrated the Manchester strikers.

Salford's efficiency from nine metres was better than their opponents, and they created gaps in the defence. And with several missed shots and poor passes Manchester’s early lead was gone after ten minutes, and Salford were ahead by five goals at the break.

During the second half Manchester battled hard to reduce the deficit, but never managed to get closer than three goals, while Salford’s counter attacks established a seven-goal win.

Free-scoring play from Aden Woodall and Jack Hennessy, who scored six and seven goals respectively, along with a strong performance in goal from Rob Avery, helped Salford take the win.

Meanwhile, Liverpool Wolves beat University of Manchester 31-16 and Deva won 22-16 against Liverpool Speke Garston.

* In the southern section, Cambridge secured their first ever win over Southern Section winners Great Dane, 22-20, while Ruislip Eagles scraped past Bath University 30-28.

But Cambridge women narrowly missed out on doing the same, going down 24-22 to Great Dane women in a friendly clash on Sunday.

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