Londoner Dan Sarginson won the first of this year’s Challenge Cup quarter finals with a golden try in extra time for Salford after their game with Catalan Dragons was tied up at 18-18 on 80 minutes.
That put the Red Devils on course for a first Wembley Cup Final since 1938, the only time they won the cup – subject to tomorrow’s semi-final draw, which takes place during the half-time break of the fourth game.
It was the Dragons got their first points in early, capitalising on the worst possible start by Salford.
The Red Devils kicked out on the full when starting the game and the resulting penalty start their game in possession on Salford’s 30m line. Then the Manchester team gave away another penalty on their own try line as Catalans tried to play the ball on the last tackle of that set.
A swift passing move to the left say Fouad Yaha dart over an undefended line in the corner. And although the try wasn’t converted, Catalans were 4-0 ahead before Salford had a touched the ball, other than to place it on the tee for the kick-off.
After that, though, the Devils held out the Dragons for 20 minutes of consistent pressure before James Maloney got on the end of another flowing move in Salford’s 10m area, to run through a gap ground the ball for another try. When he kicked the conversion as well, the French team’s lead moved into double figures at 10-0.
Maloney added a penalty after James Greenwood stayed in the ruck too long, but then Salford’s stand-in full-back Dan Sarginson found himself on the wing as Krisnan Inu attracted tacklers and dived over in the corner.
Inu kicked the touchline conversion to bring the score to a more respectable 12-6 with just over 10 minutes to the half-time hooter.
Salford kept up the pressure and some two minutes later, Inu himself dived over in the same corner. But he failed to convert his own try from the touchline and the Dragons held onto a narrow two-point lead at 12-10.
But it was anyone’s game by the time the teams trooped off for the half-time break. And while Salford started the second half with a mistake – knocking on from the kick-off – they got away with it when the Catalans’ set was ended by a penalty for not playing the ball properly.
But just four minutes into the half Salford’s man mountain Pauli Pauli was sinbinned for a high tackle on Maloney. Lewis Tierney had an effort disallowed for knock-on, but eventually Whitley made the extra man count when he got over on the opposite side and once more Maloney converted to make the score 18-10.
But just as the clock marked the half-way stage of the second half, 20 minutes in, James Greenwood reached out to place the ball on the Dragons line and Inu’s conversion made it a two-point game again at 18-16.
Inu then had a try disallowed for an offside which would have put Salford in front for the first time in the game. But with five minutes to full time, Salford won a penalty, and Kasiano was sinbinned for interference at the play-the-ball on the Catalans line and the match was tied up at 18-18.
Inu missed two attempted drop-goals and the game went into golden point extra time, which lasted for less than two minutes before, ignoring the drop goal option, Saginson crossed in the corner to take advantage of the one-man advantage over the Dragons and win it with a golden-point try.
Catalans Dragons: Tomkins, Yaha (T), Folau, Langi, Tierney, Drinkwater, Maloney (T, G, P), Moa, McIloram, Bousquet, Whitley (T), Garcia, Casty. Substitutes: Julien, Goudemand, Baitieri, Kasiano (SB).
Salford Red Devils: Sarginson (T), Inu (T, 3G, P), Welham, Watkins, Williams, Lolohea, Brown, Dudson, Lussick, Yates, Greenwood (T), McCarthy, Flanagan. Substitutes: Pauli (SB), Ikahihifo, Burke, Kear.
Referee: Ben Thaler.
Half Time: 12-10
Full Time: 18-18
Extra Time: 22-18
Venue: Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens.