Salford Red Devils opened their pre-season campaign with a victory after overhauling local rivals Swinton Lions 50-12 in a competitive friendly at the The Salford Stadium.
Two tries from Derrell Olpherts alongside scores from Greg Johnson, Kris Welham, Gareth O’Brien, Tyrone McCarthy, Niall Evalds and Rob Lui ensured The Red Devils kicked off 2018 with a merciless display.
After a slow start to the contest, Greg Johnson opened the scoring after ten minutes after some quick hands from Jack Littlejohn and Kris Welham allowed the winger to touch down to claim Salford’s first try of 2018. Occupying a new role in the halves, Gareth O’Brien made no mistake in adding the extras to give Salford a 6-0 lead.
The opening seemed to have instilled a sense of momentum in the Salford camp as The Red Devils swiftly extended their lead through Tyrone McCarthy just seven minutes later. A quick pass from Lama Tasi enabled the Irish international to open his account for the year. Gareth O’Brien kicked the conversion to extend the hosts lead.
Just four minutes later Kris Welham capitalised on a gap in the Swinton defence to claim a fine individual effort. Although, on this occasion O’Brien was unable to kick the conversion, slicing the ball wide.
It was a tough opening period for the visitors, The Lions struggled to gain any distance in their attack due to the resilient Salford defence. Josh Wood skipped from hooker and broke down field before finding the onrushing Niall Evalds whose momentum carried him over the try line soon after.
The visitors did get onto the scoreboard as Hayden Hansen scored his first try for the club. Chris Hankinson confidently added the conversion in what was the final point scoring action of the half.
Salford made the perfect start to the second period when just three minutes into the half O’Brien threw a neat dummy to deceive the entire Swinton back-line before racing 30m to cross over. He then kicked the resulting goal.
The hosts were ruthless throughout and extended their lead shortly afterwards as debutant Derrell Olpherts scored his first try for the club after linking up well with Evalds. Despite the spirited efforts of a committed Swinton defence the lively Olpherts claimed his second try of the game after O’Brien picked the centre out with a looping pass.
Swinton were finally rewarded for their efforts when Chris Hankinson broke clear with eight minutes remaining to add a second try to the Lions account. With a number of minor injuries reducing their squad size, Stuart Littler’s side gave a good account of themselves although Salford proved too much to handle as Rob Lui scored two minutes from time.
However, Salford were not finished there. This time Gavin Bennion broke through a deflated Lions line to score his maiden try for The Red Devils. O’Brien kicked his seventh goal of the contest the complete the scoring.
The squad’s focus now switches to next Saturday’s pre-season friendly at nearby Warrington and after the dominant display versus Swinton, Ian Watson will be confident his side can build some momentum at the Halliwell Jones stadium.
Salford Lineup: Evalds, Johnson, Welham, Sa’u, O’Brien, Littlejohn, Kopczak, Tasi, Wood, Mossop, Jones, Hauraki, McCarthy Interchanges: Lui, Kopczak, Tomkins, Griffin, Nakubuwai, Vatuvei, Olpherts, Nzoungou, Murray, Bennion
Swinton Lineup: Fell, Webb, Hankinson, Tyson, Butt, J Hansen, Bracek, Waterworth, Austin, Lloyd, Sarsfield, Worrall Interchanges: H Hansen, Taylor, Caine, Hall, Djaout
Salford Scorers: Tries – Johnson (10), McCarthy (17), Welham (21), Evalds (25), O’Brien (43), Olpherts (49, 65) Lui (78), Bennion (79)
Goals- O’Brien (7)
Swinton Scorers: Tries- H Hansen (34), Hankinson (72)
Goals- Hankinson (2)
Man of the Match: Jack Littlejohn
Referee: M Griffiths
Touch Judges: A Smith, S Houghton
By Ryan Booth.