The University of Manchester men’s rugby league team won the BUCS Northern Conference Cup on Wednesday afternoon after beating the University of Salford at the Armitage Centre.
Manchester ran out 18-14 winners in what was a tense and heated local derby.
The hosts went 18-0 in front after 37 minutes as Matt Rossiter, Henry Davies and Ben Steele scored their three tries.
A Salford fightback was on the cards when Luke Greenwood scored either side of each half.
Despite Conor Mulcahy’s effort 14 minutes before the end, it was not enough and Manchester were crowned cup champions.
Manchester put the pressure on the Salford line early on, as the referee disallowed tries for two forward passes.
However, their constant attack paid off as Matt Rossiter went over the line after eight minutes. Luke Farrow found space on the left side and assisted the winger who darted over the line. Farrow converted the kick to make it 6-0.
They extended their advantage seven minutes later through Henry Davies’ try. Again, the attack came on the left edge and Davies found a gap to shrug off fullback Dan Munt and raced away to score. Farrow added the extras and Manchester took a 12-0 lead.
They made it 18-0 on the 37th minute as Ben Steele went over. A break through the middle by Ben Calverley allowed the loose forward to find Steele who eased over the whitewash. Farrow added the extras to give his team a convincing lead.
Salford fought back just before the break as Luke Greenwood darted over. A swift move on the right side resulted in Dan Norman to find Greenwood who charged past two Manchester men to score. Rob Downing missed the kick but the try set up an intriguing second half.
Greenwood scored his second try three minutes after half time to give Salford hope of victory. Munt found space on the right side and he was able to find the winger who touched down in the corner. Dan White’s kick just went wide of the post but the score was reduced to just 10 points.
After numerous injuries in what was a brutal battle on the field, Salford scored their third try throughout Conor Mulcahy on the 66th minute. Josh Hill found Mulcahy who went over from close range. White converted to make it 18-14.
66” Josh Hill manages to produce a great pass from an uncomfortable floor position to put in Conor Mulcahy for his first try of the game. pic.twitter.com/Y1T3NOemaI
— Salford Uni RL (@SalfordUniRL) March 7, 2018
Regardless of their tries and grit and determination, Salford went home runners up and it was Manchester who claimed the Conference Cup trophy.
FT Salford 14 – 18 Manchester
A grueling final for both teams and two conversions separating us apart.
Well done to all involved!@TeamSalford
— Salford Uni RL (@SalfordUniRL) March 7, 2018
— UoM Sport (@UoMSport) March 7, 2018
Manchester Coach Matt Valentine, said: “It was an outstanding effort. When we played them last time we didn’t do ourselves justice and we had a chat about that before the game and we had to come out and put that to bed and I thought the boys did that.”
Salford Coach Alex Davidson, stated: “It’s heartbreaking to lose a game of such nature – a final against your closest rivals – what can you say to that?
“At the end of the day, we started appallingly – our intensity wasn’t there and we just said it in the changing rooms then that the lads were complacent after the last time we were here and you can’t do that against any side let alone your local rivals.
“We beat ourselves up as well – giving too many errors and too many penalties away – you just can’t do that.”
Salford winger Luke Greenwood, said: “It’s disappointing. We didn’t set off in the first half and that was our major downfall. We have to pick ourselves up for the big game next week and that’s the main thing now to look forward to that.”
The fierce rivals will meet again next Friday in the Rugby League Varsity Two Cities Challenge. The match will take place at Manchester Regional Arena and both coaches and Greenwood are looking forward to the massive clash.
TWO CITIES CHALLENGE!
Tickets now available to purchase from https://t.co/cVoj2EYSOc
Return transport is also available!
Let’s have it! #SURL
— Salford Uni RL (@SalfordUniRL) February 9, 2018
Valentine admitted: “To be honest I imagine Varsity to be even more brutal than this one was because we are 1-1 now, as Salford beat us in the league and we’ve beaten them in the cup and now its all to play for next week!”
Davidson previewed the Varsity Challenge and he talked about how his team will recover and work hard throughout the week. He spoke about improving from their cup defeat and showing what they’re made of when they get the chance to put things right against the same side in just nine days time.
Greenwood added: “Hopefully we can get revenge as after today all the boys are a lot more up for that match and it’s going to be big so I’d advise everyone to get down to see it if they can!”
Take a look at what happened at the Northern Conference Cup.