Match Report: Toronto Wolfpack v Salford Red Devils

Toronto Wolfpack have fallen just short in their second round Super League clash, going down to 2019 Grand Finalists Salford Red Devils. A tight and tough encounter, the Wolfpack tied the scores with nine minutes to play but a pair of late tries from the home side secured their 24-16 victory, the first of their 2020 campaign.

The Wolfpack created plenty of chances in a much improved performance from the opening round, with several players showing signs of what they are capable of as the season progresses. Able to fight their way back from a deficit to set up a thrilling finish, the Wolfpack showed commitment and determination right up until the final siren.

Strong winds and a passionate crowd welcomed Toronto to Salford for the third encounter between the two sides at AJ Bell Stadium. The game’s opening contained brilliant moments from both sides but solid defence at each end of the field saw neither able to reflect their time in possession on the scoreboard.

It wasn’t until the introduction of Gary Wheeler for the Wolfpack in the 18th minute that the deadlock was broken. Coming into the game following a big tackle on Joe Mellor that saw the halfback come from the field, Wheeler took just seconds to make his presence felt. Collecting the ball on the left wing, Wheeler charged at the line and bounced off several tacklers on his way to his first try for the Wolfpack since February 16, 2019.

Ten minutes later, Red Devils halfback Kevin Brown brought the scores back to parity after getting on the end of a perfectly placed kick alongside the posts. The successful conversion from Tui Lolohea took Salford into the lead as half-time beckoned, but plenty was still to play out before the break.

An eventful 37th minute saw Wheeler and Salford’s Kris Welham collide in a tough clash that saw Welham sent to the sin-bin for ten minutes. As a result of a slightly heated aftermath, Toronto’s Hakim Miloudi was also given his marching orders, penalties both players would continue to serve into the second half.

The Wolfpack begun positively after the break, with Matty Russell quickly finding a gap in the Salford line he was able to squeeze through. Able to offload to Liam Kay, the winger almost made his way in to score before being reeled in by scrambling defenders. A two-minute lapse would then prove fatal for Toronto when they conceded back-to-back tries to Salford through Lolohea and Rhys Williams.

A stunning solo effort, Williams’ try came from the restart following the Lolohea four-pointer. Collecting the ball well within his own territory, the winger created space with some nimble footwork and took full advantage on the scoreboard. In the blink of an eye, the margin had ballooned from two points to 12 and the Wolfpack’s task was looking increasingly difficult.

The always busy Miloudi couldn’t be kept out of the game upon his return to the field for the Wolfpack, tallying his second try assist for the season when he put a kick through that would be collected by Wheeler for his second try of the game. Reducing the margin to a single score, the try sparked a surge in momentum for the visiting Toronto that saw them continue to threaten in attack and with nine minutes remaining, Brad Singleton’s first try in a Wolfpack jersey levelled the scores at 16.

Cheered on by their home fans, Salford then put the foot down in the final minutes, again registering back-to-back tries, this time through Dan Sarginson and Niall Evalds. The eight-point loss leaves the Wolfpack without a win from the opening fortnight of Super League action but Head Coach Brian McDermott will certainly be able to find several positives from the tight loss to the 2019 Grand Finalists.

Toronto now have just four days to recover before taking on 2018 Super League champions Wigan Warriors at DW Stadium on the night of Thursday, February 13. The Warriors have taken a win and a loss from the opening fortnight of the season, with the victory coming in front of their home fans in round one. The Wolfpack’s first ever Thursday night fixture, kick-off is scheduled for 7.45pm UK time, 2.45pm in Toronto.

Game Timeline

18’ Try Wolfpack: Wheeler 0-4

28’ Try Red Devils: Brown. Conversion: Lolohea 6-4

Half Time: 6 – 4

47’ Try Red Devils: Lolohea. Conversion: Lolohea 12-4

49’ Try Red Devils: Williams 16-4

54’ Try Wolfpack: Wheeler. Conversion: Wallace 16-10

70’ Try Wolfpack: Singleton. Conversion: Wallace 16-16

74’ Try Red Devils: Sarginson 20-16

77’ Try Red Devils: Evalds 24-16

Full Time: 24-16

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