Salford Red Devis were beaten by St Helens in our one and only friendly of 2024.
On a windy day at the Totally Wicked Stadum, there was a chance for supporters to see some of our new additions in action for the very first time.
Nene Macdonald, Chris Hankinson and Joe Mellor started the game, with Matty Foster, Joe Shorrocks and Kai Morgan all making appearances from the interchange bench.
From our first set, Marc Sneyd made use of the conditions and forced another set of six just 20 out. Another testing kick was claimed by Macdonald, but the centre was wrapped up on the right edge.
The hosts were first on the board when Jack Welsby pounced on a bobbling kick ahead of the Salford skipper, Kallum Watkins. Tommy Makinson with his first of four conversions in the first-half.
Following a string of penalties, King Vuniyayawa was shown an early yellow card from referee, Liam Moore and Salford were forced back onto their own line.
Some good defence won back possession, but James Batchelor made an interception on halfway and had Daryl Clark in support to send the hooker underneath the sticks.
It was a quick-fire double for Saints, with George Delaney the man this time to break the line. Shrugging off a chasing Hankinson, the prop flicked an offload to Welsby, who scored his second of the afternoon.
Vuniyayawa returned to the field on 19 minutes, as Salford tried to rebuild.
New Saints captain, Jonny Lomax was at the heart of the next try, executing a neat cut-out ball to send Makinson strolling into the right corner.
Moses Mbye – who replaced Clark midway through the half – stabbed a grubber kick five minutes later, which ricocheted into the path of Batchelor.
The Red Devils returned for the second forty on the front foot and were soon on the board via the brilliance of Tim Lafai. The Samoan broke the line, charged through and found the supporting Foster to score his first in Salford colours.
A six-again allowed Saints to gain territory a few minutes later and Mbye’s pass set Matt Whitley away for a debut try.
That try signalled a raft of Salford changes, with Stuart Wilkinson’s Reserves handed the opportunity to gain valuable minutes on the field.
Kai Morgan – one of a few first grade players who remained in the action- made a nice break up the right, but was thwarted by the scrambling Sam Royle.
From a Saints scrum just a set later, Dayon Sambou spotted a gap on the right edge to charge 70 metres and score a breakaway try.
That was one of three tries in quick succession for the hosts, with a Ben Davies tip the source of one try for Jonny Vaughan to slide over.
Owen Dagnall was the next on the board when a scramble from a Saints break was fumbled by a Salford player – confirmed by the video referee.
There was a moment to celebrate for our youngsters on 74 minutes, when Nathan Connell’s neat grubber was slammed down by Scott Egan in the right corner.
That – with a Saints no-try on the hooter – was the last action of the contest, with all attention now turning to our Betfred Super League clash with Leeds Rhinos, at Headingley.
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Salford line-up: Ryan Brierley, Deon Cross, Nene Macdonald, Tim Lafai, Chris Hankinson, Chris Atkin, Marc Sneyd, Brad Singleton, Joe Mellor, King Vuniyayawa, Sam Stone, Kallum Watkins, Oliver Partington.
Interchanges: Amir Bourouh, Joe Shorrocks, Jack Ormondroyd, Matty Foster, Shane Wright, Ben Hellewell, Andrew Dixon, Kai Morgan, Ethan Fitzgerald, Scott Egan, Josh Wagstaffe, Mason Phillips, Dan Harrison, Nathan Connell, Jack Gatcliffe, Charlie Glover, Finley Yates, Jack Edge, Lucas Coan, Jordan Brown, John Hutchings, Lenubou Bardyel Wells, Tom Worthington.
Tries: Matty Foster, Scott Egan.
Conversions: Marc Sneyd (1/1), Gatcliffe (0/1).
St Helens line-up: Jack Welsby, Tommy Makinson, Konrad Hurrell, Waqa Blake, Jon Bennison, Jonny Lomax, Lewis Dodd, Alex Walmsley, Daryl Clark, George Delaney, Joe Batchelor, Curtis Sironen, James Bell.
Interchanges: Moses Mbye, Brett Bailey, Jake Wingfield, Matt Whitley, Ben Davies, Sam Royle, Jake Burns, Tee Ritson, McKenzie Buckley, Dayon Sambou, George Whitby, Jonny Vaughan, Noah Stephens, Harvey Braddish, Harry Robertson, Owen Dagnall, Ben Will, Ciaran Nolan, Sam Oakes.
Tries: Jack Welsby (2), Daryl Clark, Tommy Makinson, Joe Batchelor, Matt Whitley, Dayon Sambou, Jonny Vaughan, Owen Dagnall.
Conversions: Tommy Makinson (4/5), George Whitby (4/4)
HT: St Helens 28-0 Salford Red Devils.
Photo credit: Steve McCormick & James Giblin