Salford Red Devils kept their hopes of a Wembley appearance alive with a clinical 30-6 win over Wakefield Trinity in the Challenge Cup quarter-final at the AJ Bell Stadium.
First half tries from Ryan Lannon, the ever-impressive Ben Murdoch-Masila, and Niall Evalds, along with a penalty goal from Michael Dobson gave Salford a 20-0 lead at half time, while Wakefield failed to make their mark on proceedings.
Further scores from Greg Johnson and Craig Kopczak for the hosts, as well as a late consolation try from Liam Finn for the visitors, capped off a ruthless performance from the Red Devils who booked their spot in the Challenge Cup semi-final for the first time since 1998.
After a strong start with the ball in hand, Salford opened the scoring after seven minutes when Robert Lui’s kick over the top was collected by his halfback partner Michael Dobson. The ball was stripped from Dobson’s grasp but Ryan Lannon was on hand to pick up the ball and touch down next to the posts. Dobson added the extras to give Salford a 6-0 lead.
The Red Devils were over five minutes later when Murdoch-Masila ran a good line to barnstorm his way through feeble Wakefield defence to extend the lead. Dobson made no mistake with the conversion.
Some great line speed, coupled with strong defence and big running metres, with Kopczak in particular impressing, saw Salford continue to dominate proceedings. A penalty for a ball strip on Murdoch-Masila in the 21st minute meant Dobson furthered Salford’s lead to 14.
Salford were on the front foot in attack and defence whilst Wakefield were struggling with poor handling, typified by an error from Wakefield backrower Dean Hadley which set up the final try of the half.
A quick play the ball had Wakefield’s defence in disarray, allowing Niall Evalds, filling in for the injured Gareth O’Brien, to cross after evading two Wakefield players. Dobson kicked his fourth conversion from as many attempts to establish a 20-0 lead at halftime.
Salford kept their foot on the gas after the restart as they bagged two tries in the opening ten minutes of the second half. First, Johnson finished off a flowing left to right play after some great work from Lui and Murdoch-Masila, with the latter providing the pass for the winger to cross in the corner. Then, six minutes later, Kopczak scored a deserved try when he showed fantastic strength to shrug off a few would-be tacklers to find his way to the try line. Dobson converted one of the two kicks to take the lead out to 30.
Defence was at the forefront of Salford’s game, with a huge effort from Lui to tackle Mason Caton-Brown into touch with the try line beckoning for the Wakefield speedster.
Wakefield finally got on the scoreboard after 72 minutes, when a blindside kick from Joe Arundel was picked up by Caton-Brown. The winger was brought to ground by opposite winger Johnson, who dislodged the ball, only for Wakefield halfback Finn to react the quickest to gather the ball to score. Finn added the extras to his try to make the score 30-6.
Salford didn’t let the try dampen their mood, with Murdoch-Masila providing a huge tackle on Matty Ashurst late on to cap off a memorable display.
Written by Jack Ireland