IN this crunch match, sponsored by 235 Consulting, De La Salle were the visitors to Trafford MV in North Lancs Div One and the Salford side came out on top in an uncompromising encounter.
The visitors opened strongly and put heavy pressure on the MV defence.
A much heavier pack looked as if they would dominate but MV soon got to grips up front and the MV front row of Sheehan, Kevan and Anderson caused havoc in the set piece.
De La Salle applied intense pressure on the Trafford defence but couldn't come up with the final ball to open the scoring. MV were doing well in scrum and line out but the visitors to MacPherson Park took advantage of weak refereeing to dominate the breakdown, consistently spoiling ball and ignoring any offside line.
With half time approaching De La were probing the Trafford defence and the breakthrough came when the Trafford pack was drawn into a ruck on halfway and with MV committed the De La backs took the ball, centre Evans put in a crossfield kick for Petrou, who hacked the ball forward, MV were out of position and covering MV winger Jamie Kingdon took the player without the ball to concede a penalty try. McAttee converted to open the scoring 0-7. MV were defending strongly and came back with a Ben Wheeler penalty to take the score to 3-7 at half time.
The MV pack opened strongly once more but the backline seemed to lack sparkle inside centre Garvey being the only one to show through. De La were awarded a penalty 10 metres from the Trafford try line out on the De La left wing. Second row Smyth took a quick tap and was bundled over by an offside Hodgson who was shown a yellow card. From the penalty loose head prop Mills powered over for the visitors, Petrou converted to go 3-14 in front. With time running out Trafford had spell of sustained pressure on the De La line, however the defence never looked like breaking and soaked up the pressure to deny the home side any chance of a consolation score the game ended 3-14.
This was not a game for purists, it was a tough contest between two well matched sides and with a stronger refereeing performance the spectators may have seen more of the ball and less timewasting. MV need to pick themselves up and become more consistent, injuries are a problem but they are not an excuse.Performances need to improve if a realistic title challenge is to be made in the back half of the season. MV travel to Bury on Saturday hoping to repeat their recent 0-70 cup victory and pick up some much needed league points.