In this most confusing of seasons, and with Super League teams gathering around the virtual conference table to discuss an early end to the season, the Salford Red Devils and Catalans Dragons were thrown together in a re-arranged round nine game at the AJ Bell Stadium on a wet Monday afternoon.
Salford forfeited their last scheduled game against the Warrington Wolves and were awarded a 24-0 loss and they now took on a Catalans side which has fallen victim to a number of positive coronavirus tests and who have not played a game since the 9th of October when they beat Hull KR by 34-4.
Win or Lose the Dragons would not change their league position, but a win would make their claim for a play-off place increasingly credible as they moved within two games of the previously required fifteen. A win for Salford would lift them into the top eight, and the potential of a play-off place depending on the structure changes to be hammered out by the club chairmen.
The Dragons drew first blood after a Krisnan Inu mistake in taking a kick through. Drinkwater picked up the loose ball and after quick movement through hands it ended up with Paul Seguier who went over down the right-hand side. James Maloney added the conversion to put his side 6-0 ahead.
Two minutes later and the Dragons were in again as Tom Davies took an Israel Folau pass after the Dragons centre eluded the Salford defenders. Maloney added the goal for 12-0, the visitors were coasting.
The Red Devils forced two goal line dropouts and the pressure finally told when Inu ghosted over to slide in for the first Salford try of the day. Inu added the conversion from the touchline for 6-12 with fifteen minutes left in the first half clock.
Sam Kasiano picked up a dislodged ball a couple of metres out from the Salford line on thirty and had the simplest of walk-ins. Maloney was accurate again with his conversion to regain the twelve-point lead.
Tyrone McCarthy had a try ruled out with a couple of minutes of the half remaining as he was ruled offside collecting a kick through. The Red Devils went into the interval trailing by twelve.
Within seconds of the restart the Red Devils were in for their second as Kallum Watkins provided a perfect back handed pass to Rhys Williams to go in for the four pointer. Inu added the touchline goal for 12-18.
Inu got his second of the game to get Salford right back in the game, crossing in the corner and improving the angle by going behind the sticks. He converted the try himself to level the scores.
It was three on the trot for the home side as they took the lead on fifty-one with many hands making light work and ending with Tui Lolohea crossing for the try as the ball was given plenty of air. Inu kicked his fourth conversion of the match for a 24-18 Salford lead.
Pauli Pauli broke the Catalans line before finding Kallum Watkins in support to take the infield pass and carve through what was left of the Catalans defence for a fourth try in thirteen second half minutes. Inu added the goal for 30-18 after an amazing Salford blitz.
Lolohea scored his second of the game on sixty-two with a solo effort ripping forty metres through the Dragons defence before sliding over the line with a tackler attached to his shirt. Inu added the conversion for 36-18, the Dragons simply not at the party.
The seventh Salford try came of seventy-five with Krisnan Inu completing his hat-trick as he slid over in the corner after great Salford build-up. Inu converted for the seventh time, a personal tally of twenty-eight points.
David Mead grabbed a late Dragons consolation, the try converted by Maloney for a final score of 42-24.
There was little to choose between the two sides in the first half despite the Dragons taking a twelve-point lead into the interval. But it was a different Salford side who came out for the second half as they relentlessly stormed the Dragons defences and scored five quick tries to take a commanding lead by the hour mark. Catalans simply had no response to the Red Devils onslaught with Lolohea instrumental in taking their defensive line apart as the Red Devils backs ran riot.
Salford Red Devils: Sarginson, Williams (T), Watkins (T), Welham, Inu (3T, 7G), Lolohea (2T), Atkin, Mossop, Lussick, Yates, Ormondroyd, Pauli, Burke. Subs: Ackers, Dudson, McCarthy, Ikahihifo.
Catalans Dragons: Mead (T), Yaha, Langi, Folau, Davies (T), Drinkwater, Maloney (4G), Moa, McIlorum, Casty, Jullien, Seguier (T), Garcia. Subs: Bousquet, Goudemand, Mourgue, Kasiano (T).
Referee: Jack Smith.
Half Time: 6-18.
Full Time: 42-24.
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium, Salford.