WOMEN’S MATCH REPORT | Salford Red Devils | Round 11

Perfect Ten for the Leopards

Women’s Championship

Salford Community Stadium Outside Pitch, Sunday 7 July 2024 (noon)

Salford Red Devils 4-44 Leigh Leopards

Leopards made it a perfect ten at the Salford Community Stadium pitch, scoring ten tries to earn their tenth straight Championship win.

Mollie Young led the way with a sparkling winger’s hat-trick to take her tally to eight tries in her last three games.

There were braces for Charlotte Melvin and Storm Cobain, both now in double figures for the season, with Hattie Dogus, Rachel Porter and Freya Turner also on the scoresheet.

Leopards played some of their best attacking rugby of the season in a fluent first half display against a Salford side strengthened with dual registration players from Wigan and Warrington.

The Red Devils began the game in third position and showed a big improvement in their general play from when the teams met earlier in the season.

But Leopards’ start was virtually flawless as they took command of the game early on.

Head coach Kieron Purtill was forced to make backline changes with Toryn Blackwood and Becky Greenfield ruled out by injuries, Blackwood missing her first ever Leopards’ game after being ever-present since the team started last year.

Young was switched to the left wing with Abi Gordon coming at centre and doing a fine job as she contributed several assists.

On the right edge Salford had no answer to the pairing of Melvin and Turner, especially when fullback Dogus joined the line with her pace and elusive running.

With the halfbacks Rhianna Burke and Leah Morris bossing the middle in partnership with Kate Howard and Porter at hooker, the forwards had plenty of opportunities and Ireland international Cobain again came up with a cutting edge.

Dogus’s run from deep set up the momentum for Young’s opening try on the left before Melvin’s piercing run created the second try for the supporting Turner on the opposite flank.

Burke’s floated pass then gave Melvin the space to dive over in the corner and she added a quickfire second after Dogus’s kick created havoc in the home defence.

Melvin was the creator again, fastening on to Dogus’s break to provide the opening for Cobain’s first try.

Leopards added two more tries before going in 30-0 up at the break, Dogus notching her 17th try of the season with Leah Morris the creator before Gordon ushered Young over in the corner for her second.

Though Cobain began the second half diving under the posts for her second try it was always difficult for Leopards to recreate that first half fluency as the game became more scrappy and interrupted by stoppages.

Salford gave it a good go and finally broke through when second row Jadine McVernon, their stand-out player, finished off a passing move on the left.

Leopards had to defend with resolution and energy to restrict Salford to that single try and will have benefitted from the exercise as in too many of their recent games the opposition has posed little attacking threat.

They finished on top as Porter fought her way over from acting halfback before Young completed her hat-trick in the dying minutes, Gordon again with the assist. With so many of Leopards’ tries scored wide out on the flanks Melvin was able to add only two conversions but her team was able to pass 500 league points along the way.

Next Sunday Leopards may face their biggest league test of the season so far when they travel to play second placed Sheffield Eagles (noon kick-off). The Eagles’ only league defeat was by 42-14 at Twist Lane earlier in the season.

Six Leopards players have now got into double figures for tries this season. Dogus leads the way with 17 followed by Young (14), Howard (12) and Cobain, Blackwood and Melvin (all 11). Melvin has kicked 56 goals for 156 points.

Red Devils

Alexandra Simpson; Marie-Lee Kelly, Kimberley Seddon, Caitlin Washington, Megan Hobin; Ellie Costello, Samantha Evans; Olivia Hill, Tamzin Corcoran, Emily Bagguley, Jadine McVernon, Sumner Harris, Sophie Morris

Bench:

Emerald Hickey, Abigail Collins, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Lily-May Gray

Try: McVernon (64)

Goal: Evans 0/ 1

Leopards

Hattie Dogus; Freya Turner, Charlotte Melvin, Abi Gordon, Mollie Young; Rhianna Burke, Leah Morris; Keira McCosh, Katie Howard, Eleanor Dainty, Keli Morris, Storm Cobain, Grace Hill

Bench:

Mairead Quinn, Sam Brazier, Georgia Mole, Rachel Porter

Tries: Young (5, 38, 77), Turner (8), Melvin (15, 18), Cobain (21, 43), Dogus (28), Porter (70)

Goals: Melvin 2/ 9, Cobain 0/ 1

Scoring sequence: 0-4, 0-8, 0-12, 0-16, 0-22, 0-26, 0-30 (ht) 0-36, 4-36, 4-40, 4-44

Referee: Liam Breheny

Penalty Count: 2-3

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