SALFORD, United Kingdom — The Toronto Wolfpack suffered their first loss in a competitive match Sunday, beaten 29-22 by the Salford Red Devils in the fifth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
Salford stands third in the elite Super League, two divisions and 22 places above the fledgling Wolfpack, rugby league's first transatlantic team.
Despite that gap, the Wolfpack had their chances and made for a difficult afternoon for Salford, which trailed 12-6 and 16-12 in the first half at A.J. Bell Stadium. But Toronto, attempting to play an expansive game, made mistakes and was ill-disciplined.
Salford also had its issues, reduced to 12 men in the first half when Justin Carney was red-carded for dissent with the home side trailing 16-12. Toronto forward Adam Laithwaite, meanwhile, was stretchered off in the 23rd minute of a physical contest.
Liam Kay, Quentin Laulu-Togaga, new signing Ryan Brierley and Fuifui Moimoi scored tries for Toronto. Captain Craig Hall booted three conversions.
Moimoi, a hulking forward who left several Salford players lying in his wake, scored his converted try in the dying seconds.
Greg Johnson scored two tries for Salford while Kris Welham, Michael Dobson and Gareth O'Brien added singles. Dobson kicked three conversions and O'Brien added a conversion and a drop goal.
Salford led 18-16 at the half.
Prior to a 38-6 loss last Monday to Catalan Dragons after a short three-day turnaround, Salford (7-4-0) had won five straight.
Toronto (5-0-0) has been running roughshod in the Kingstone Press League 1, the third tier of English rugby league. A fully professional side, the Wolfpack have outscored their semi-pro opposition 310-37 as they bid for promotion to the second-tier Championship.
The Challenge Cup, a knockout tournament, has provided tougher opposition. Up 30-12 against the London Broncos of the Championship, Toronto had to hang on for a 30-26 win in mid-March.
The Wolfpack came into Sunday's game having won three straight league matches since then by scores of 48-21, 82-6 and 80-0.
Toronto had won seven straight competitive games in league and cup play. Its only other loss was in exhibition play, a 26-20 defeat at the hands of Hull Kingston Rovers, which currently leads the Championship, in its first outing Jan. 22.
Toronto's next game is its home opener May 6 against Oxford RLFC.
The Canadian Press