There have been few games in Salford Red Devils recent history which have carried so much importance as today's visit to Halifax. The Devils came into the game in fifth in the Qualifiers table but a victory by thirty-two points or more would see them up into top spot ahead of tomorrow's fixtures.
With all of the teams above them playing against one-another tomorrow a win would also go a long way towards helping the Devils avoid the perilous fourth or fifth positions. If Halifax were to offer any challenge for a top five spot a home win was essential for them to kick start their Qualifiers campaign.
The Red Devils were the clear favourites going into the game, despite their on and off field trials and tribulations and anything less would cause a major Koukash meltdown.
After a confident opening ten minutes for Halifax they were first to concede after a couple of errors in their own twenty and Niall Evalds running from ten metres to stretch out two handed to ground the ball on the line. Josh Griffin kicked the extras.
Two minutes later and Evalds was in again after picking up a Johnson kick through to walk three metres and dive over. Griffin again converted. It was already looking ominous for Halifax.
The home side struck back on sixteen when Dane Manning juggled the ball before diving over next to the sticks. Steve Tyrer added the simple conversion.
On thirty-two Greg Johnson scored in the left corner from close for Salford's third try of the afternoon but Josh Griffin failed to add the extras. Soon it was another double-whammy as Ben Jones-Bishop crossed in the right corner after stepping off both feet. Griffin added the two and at 22-6 it was already looking like a comfortable Devils win as we headed to half time.
There was a touch of good fortune about the opening second half try for Halifax. A Scott Murrell bomb wrong footed Niall Evalds allowing the kicker to collect the ball on its first bounce and dive over by the uprights. Tyrer kicked the goal for 22-12.
Niall Evalds made up for his embarrassment, and score his hat-trick, two minutes later with a seventy metre grubber return. Michael Dobson kicked the conversion from wide and it was business as usual for the Red Devils at 28-12
Halifax were looking much better in the second half and registered the next try when James Saltonstall scored a one-handed effort in the left corner as he was on his way into touch. Tyrer missed the conversion leaving his side two converted tries behind.
The margin was down to six on fifty-six. Corey Paterson got a hand on a Halifax pass which went to Manning to break through a gap before finding Jacob Fairbanks in support to canter under the sticks. Tyrer added the two and it was game-on.
On fifty-eight Ben Jones-Bishop had awful Halifax tackling to thank for a one hundred metre try down the left wing. Dobson kicked the extras for 34-22.
As the Halifax defence weakened Greg Johnson got his second try after Ben Heaton lost the ball in the Salford twenty and the Devils winger went ninety metres to cross under the sticks making the Josh Griffin kick a formality for 40-22.
Ben Jones-Bishop added his third try of the afternoon when Halifax spilled the ball on their own twenty. Dobson goaled brilliantly from the right touchline and the Devils were running away with the scoreline.
It was a hat-trick of hat-tricks when Greg Johnson scored one handed in the left corner for Salford to hit fifty. Griffin missed the conversion on what was turning into a comfortable win.
An Adam Tangata try and Tyrer conversion on seventy-four was enough for Halifax to keep Salford off the top of the Qualifiers table overnight but they were up to second and setting the challenge for Hull KR, Wakefield and Bradford Bulls tomorrow afternoon.
This was far from an impeccable Devils performance but it was enough for the win to revitalise their hopes of an automatic return to Super League for 2016. Halifax take take some heart form scoring twenty-eight points against full-time opposition which will stand them in good stead for their 2016 Championship campaign.
Halifax: Martin, Heaton, Tyrer (4G), Eccleston, Saltonstall (T), Robinson C, Murrell (T), Tangata (T), Kaye, Cahalane, Manning (T), Moore, Fairbanks (T). Subs: Ambler, Robinson A, Bracek, Maneely.
Devils: Evalds (3T), Jones-Bishop (3T), Griffin J (4G), Thornley, Johnson (3T), Lee, Dobson (3G), Griffin G, Tomkins, Taylor, Hansen, Maitua, Paterson. Subs: Hood, Krasniqi, Forster, Walne J.
Referee: Joe Cobb