Manchester crowned Two Cities Varsity Challenge champions after comfortable win

Manchester’s 44-6 victory saw them lift a second trophy in as many weeks after beating their local rivals last Wednesday in the Conference Cup final.

Before the game, the stakes and expectations were higher than ever after both sides had one win against each other this season.

Salford won the league meeting back in November whilst Manchester ran out 18-14 winners in a tight Conference Cup clash.

The game took place at Manchester Regional Arena, adjacent to the Etihad Stadium

The Two Cities Varsity Challenge was established over 10 years ago and is part of the Varsity event that sees both universities compete again another university in 24 sports.

Farrow then made it 10-0 shortly after as he touched down over the line. The full-back found a gap in the Salford line and eased over but he could not add the two points with the kick.

Manchester went further in front soon after as Farrow got his second try. This time he found space on the left side and dived over the whitewash from close range. Farrow missed the kick but his side went 14-0 in front.

Henry Davies extended Manchester’s lead as the second rower went through the Salford line to score. Farrow made it 20-0 with the accurate kick.

It then got worse for Salford as they conceded another two tries before the break.

Farrow got his hat-trick after a carbon copy of his first try. He caused danger in the Salford defence and went over the line on the right side.

Ollie Cottrell then eased over but Farrow missed both kicks. His side took an impressive 28-0 advantage into half time.

Manchester started the second half like they finished the first as Ben Steele scored their seventh try of the match. The stand-off showed a dummy 10 metres from the line which allowed him to go over. Manchester took a 34-0 lead after Farrow converted the kick.

Salford did get on the score sheet as Rob Downing powered over the line. The substitute made an impact and charged through the Manchester defence from close range. Downing converted his try in front of the sticks.

Seb Chromiak tarnished any hopes of a Salford revival after he touched down in the corner. The winger excellently caught the ball on the right side from a lopping kick and crashed over. Farrow missed the kick.

Manchester rounded the game off with another brilliant try, this time from Matty Rossiter. They shifted the ball out on the left side inside their own half and Rossiter found space and out-paced the chasing Salford pack to go over. Farrow finished the game off with the kick and Manchester won 44-6.

Manchester Coach, Matt Valentine post-match said: “It was outstanding. We spoke last week as I was 50/50 with the win because I was happy with the result but disappointed with the performance. Today, I can’t fault them. We executed our sets brilliantly, we defended like our lives dependant on it – all around it was 100% a great effort.

“I could tell we was going to play well from the changing rooms. The attitude and the intensity was there and we just came out and blew Salford off the park.”

Hat-trick hero Luke Farrow spoke about his tries, as he said: “We know their (Salford) big and tough in the centres and we’ve tried to beat them previously up the middle and it’s not going to work so all our work in training was to beat them around the edges and luckily I’m the beneficiary of that.

“Most of it is down to the lads in the middle as I get the ball off the back and have lots of room to run into so it’s all credit to the lads. I just finish them off.”

Salford Coach, Alex Davidson was disappointed with his side’s performance and admitted the game was over at half time and was not a true reflection of how his team have played this season.

Despite the two trophy defeats to the same side in successive weeks, Davidson is proud of his team’s efforts from this season, as Salford finished second in the league and won promotion back to the BUCs Northern 1A League.

He said: “I’m immensely proud of the season. We never expected to be promoted at the start of the year so it’s excellent.

“You have to go that little extra further to win cups but it will come one day!”

Davidson also talked about the senior players that are in their final year at university.

For Hasan Sadrazam, Josh Hill, Conor Mulcahy, Brad Kay-Townsend, Rob Downing and George Lincoln, the Varsity match was the final time they will put the Salford jersey on and Davidson said: “I feel sorry for the lads that are leaving this year and I hope they come back to help us in the future. It doesn’t end here.

“Salford University rugby league doesn’t end when you leave – it’s a brotherhood that we take through with us but it is sad for the lads that are moving on.”

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