RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: CASTLEFORD V SALFORD

It is the unpredictability in sport, especially the result, which makes it so enthralling for so many of us.  The fact that the underdog might just win is what sparks our interest, while to be there for the odd occasion when that actually happens is absolutely thrilling, as all our fans, who travelled to the Totally Wicked Stadium for our recent victory over St Helens, will testify.

Not so, however, when you happen to be the side which had been expected to win, as was the case for Salford’s fixture at the Mend-A- Hose Jungle, against Castleford, last Friday evening, which proved to be a disappointment not only for those who made the trip over, but also those who watched it on tv.

In fairness to all connected with the team, the very fact that they were actually expected to win the encounter is a great testament to the progress they have made in recent seasons.  It was not that long ago that the thought of winning any match in Yorkshire, let alone at Castleford, proved to be somewhat fruitless, but the more successful a team is the more that this sort of disappointment is likely to happen.  If it can happen to St Helens, it can happen to anyone.

There had been some little warning in the games in which the two sides were involved the previous round, but it can also be argued that the seeds for this outcome were sown back in Round 2, when an extremely similar encounter, which also saw the game swing back and forth between the two sides ended with the Red Devils running out 26-22 victors.

The Tigers had been really disappointed at this, feeling that they had done enough to have won it themselves, and probably consoled themselves by briefly earmarking the return fixture as one to look forward to.  Certainly, once they got in control in the last quarter, on Friday, they were always going to find enough energy and endeavour to try and hold on, which they managed to do.

Not that there was any sign of this through the opening fifteen minutes, when Salford swept to an eight-point lead, from Deon Cross’s try and two goals from Marc Sneyd, and they looked as though they were capable of scoring with regularity.  The sinbinning of Amir Bourouh was an impediment but could not be said to have been a turning point, as the Tigers had already given clear warning of their capability and determination, through the first of Ines Senior’s tries down the left wing.

By the time Bourouh returned, the home side, with numerical advantage, had taken charge, but there was still time for the Red Devils to hit back then and to narrow the half-time score to 14-18, with Tim Lafae’s converted try.

With the slope in their favour and a half-time discussion to spur them on, Salford really stepped up a gear with two excellent tries from Nene Macdonald and Ryan Brierley to take the score to 18-24.

Probably the really big turning point of the game was the over-ruling by both referee and video ref of Cade Cust’s attempted score on 53 mins, owing to a knock-forward in the contest for possession, prior to the grounding.  So often, we have seen in televised matches, teams, which regain possession in such circumstances, launch a counter-attack ending with a try at the other end of the pitch, and it was with Senior’s second score that Castleford started their come-back.

It was the confidence this rekindled in the home side, which was the most telling factor, allied to their sheer desperation for the win.  The difference from then on between the two sides was that Salford really wanted to win, but Castleford so badly needed it, and were determined not to let this one slip in the way that they felt they had done at Salford, back in February.

AMIR BOUROUH HANDED ONE GAME BAN

Amir Bourouh has been handed a one game ban by the match review panel.

Following our Round 7 defeat against Castleford Tigers, the hooker has been charged with a Grade B ‘Dangerous Throw’ and will subsequently miss our trip to London Broncos.

Read the full report here.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V HULL KR

After as many as seven games against Saturday’s visitors, Hull KR, and only one victory to celebrate – last season’s Magic Weekend – Salford fans might well have felt a little trepidation ahead of this one, with a sense of déjà vu hanging over them.  There was no need to worry, though, for the team turned on arguably its best performance of the season, taking control of events from the outset, and seeing it right through to the final whistle.

Conditions, one might have thought, remembering the fast slick handling that became their hallmark, in late 2022, would probably have been against them, with an extremely wet, slippery ball to handle, and equally treacherous conditions underfoot, but to many people’s surprise, it was they, who mastered all this far and away the better of the sides.

So what was it that they did so well, which laid the platform for their second home win of the season?  Like every game, the foundations were based around a dominant, robust, hard-working pack, led by those stalwart of the side, Brad Singleton and Kallum Watkins.

 This was in evidence from the very first set, when they received the ball, from the kick-off, on their ten-metre line, but instead of being pinned down to a ten to twenty metre gain, they finished the set in their opponents’ half having made over forty metres upfield.  And that set the prelude to all the hard drives and heavy yardage they were to make during the remainder of the match.

The team as a whole was prepared to work as hard as was needed and this showed through in their defence, which was immaculate.  They kept their shape, almost unerringly, throughout the whole of the game, and there was one five-minute spell from the 26th to 31st mins, in which they had to face five consecutive sets of six, at the end of which their line was still intact.

Their willingness to forage for the ball was far the superior, and it invariably seemed to be they, who were first to any loose ball.  Their preparedness to give away back-to-back sets by getting a hand to deflect a possibly telling pass, during that five-minute period, was much of the reason that it lasted so long.

When in possession, they concentrated on getting to the end of their sets, without taking too risky offloads.  Around the play-the-ball, hooker, Amir Bourouh showed the extent to which he has slotted into the side at hooker, and he dictated play around the ruck, throughout.  It was he, who spotted the Robins’ lack of numbers on the blindside, on 34 mins, sent the ball out to the right, where Chris Hankinson went in for his first, Super League try for Salford.

Although not recognised as a winger, both he, and fellow winger, Deon Cross, have done extremely well in a position, which, in the modern game carries much responsibility, as two thirds of the vital back three.  Both have become fine centres over recent years, but their moves out onto the wings has not fazed them at all, and both were try scorers, on the night.

The third member of the said back three was the cause of a last-minute change prior to kick-off, with Ryan Brierley pulling out, and Chris Atkin being thrown in at the deep-end, into the fullback role.  If anyone had any qualms as to how he would cope, they should not have done, having seen how he has managed to slot into, seemingly, any position on the field.

Indeed, his first involvement, in only the third minute, was to see him halt Ryan Hall in full-flight, only ten metres from the try line.  Even more eye-catching was his magnificent defence, 24 mins in, when he bravely dived onto the ball to make it safe from a kick onto his line, with sundry Hull players bearing down on him giving him little room for error.

Then finally, of course, there was Man of the Match, Marc Sneyd.  His kicking game has been a lynch pin in all our matches to date, but he really came into his own on Saturday, with his various types of kick, which time and again turned the Robins’ defensive line inside-out and round-about. It was his low kick into the in-goal area that was grounded by Cross for the opening try of the game, in the 14th minute.

Add on a one hundred percent goal-kicking record, not just in this game, but throughout the season, and he has become one of the stand-out players in Super League, to date. His first two successes, on Saturday, were both from the touchline, and on opposite sides of the field, but both delivered with laser-like accuracy.

So, an excellent all-round team performance, delivering a clever, well-thought out game-plan devised by Head Coach, Paul Rowley, and his coaching staff, in which the strengths of the Salford players were fundamental. 

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V CASTLEFORD

‘It’s not how you start but how you finish’ is what we are so often told, but in last Sunday afternoon’s opening home fixture with Castleford, the Red Devils wrote their own variation to that mantra. And why shouldn’t they, for after all, players and coaches will often say that they need to get off to a good start.

This, though, was not a good start – it was an incredible start, with Salford camping out in the visitors’ thirty metre area for a full ten minutes of the game, during which time they enjoyed no less than nine consecutive sets of six. Penalties, opposition touches, goal-line drop outs forced from shrewd in-goal kicks and excellent kick chases, set restarts, and tries, all combined to give the Reds the impression that they could dominate the game from start to finish.

Perhaps the most praise-worthy aspect of all this, though, was their patience. The eagerness to turn possession and position into points can so often be the cause of over-ambitious or rushed passes, which let the opposition off the hook. Not on this occasion, however, as the Red Devils started their seventh set-of-six, and this time completed it by Sam Stone going over towards the left hand corner.

Nor did the onslaught end there. Another try – this time his first in a Salford shirt to Amir Bourouh from Brad Singleton’s great offload – brought their score to twelve points in as many minutes, courtesy Marc Sneyd’s conversions, which, in fairness, were only another facet of his exceptional overall kicking game, thus far.

Although there were still another two sets started, the interception of Sone’s well intended pass inside, brought that opening tirade to a conclusion. For the team on the receiving end of such ball deprivation, all they can do is just hope that, over the forty minutes, possession evens itself, or at least they get sufficient to get back into the game. Much to Salford’s surprise the Tigers did and shortly before half time the Red Devils’ twelve point lead had been cut to two.

If you are going to score an eye-catching try, two minutes before halftime is the time to do so. It not only demoralises your opponents going into the interval, it also changes significantly the mood of discussion in each dressing-room. Nene Macdonald’s highly discussed and viewed feat of athleticism was not only incredibly well executed, it was also timed superbly.

And the impact does not end there. The start of the second half consequently found both teams in much the same mindset as had been the case in that initial first half stanza, and it really came as no surprise when, after a period of intensive pressure, a beautifully weighted kick over the line by Sneyd was latched onto by Stone for his second try of the afternoon.

At 24-10 it seemed all over bar the shouting but this game did not pan out that way and much to many a spectator’s astonishment, it was the Tigers who took much of the spoils later on pulling back to 24-16.

The sin-binning of Jack Ormandroyd for much of the last ten minutes, did not help the Salford cause, but, as always when in difficulty Marc Sneyd can be relied upon to kick you out of trouble as he did on Sunday, slotting over a penalty kick at goal to pull his team further away – a wise move as Horne’s concluding Cas try was then too late to impact on the result.

BOUROUH: “IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME COMING!”

Try-scorer, Amir Bourouh has been reflecting on our Round 2 victory over Castleford Tigers.

The hooker darted under the sticks for our second try of the afternoon, after Sam Stone had powered us into a well-deserved lead.

A special, acrobatic Nene Macdonald effort from Marc Sneyd’s high bomb was a crucial score just before the half-time hooter and Stone’s second after the break proved the difference after 80 minutes.

Discussing the victory, Bourouh said: “Really important one obviously, first of the year for us.

“I’m just glad we got the win in the end. We played into their hands and it was becoming a scrappy game, something we didn’t really want it to be.

“A lot of parts I thought we were really dominant and there’s really good signs from it.”

On his try – a first in Salford colours – the number nine couldn’t help but hide his delight: “It’s been a long time coming, hasn’t it!” he joked.

“That’s my first one, so glad to get it out of the way and hopefully many more.”

Watch our full interview with Amir by clicking below:

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GALLERY: BOUROUH PENS ONE-YEAR EXTENSION

Locked-in for 2024! 🔒

Off-contract this winter, Bourouh has put pen to paper on a one-year extension.

The exciting, young hooker has got plenty of time on his side and will continue to develop for a further 12 months in red and white.

Soaking up the advice of Andy Ackers will be certainly helping his game, with Head Coach, Paul Rowley also a premiere hooker in his playing days.

As usual, we were there on resigning day to document what he got up to:


YOUNG GUN

Full of potential, everyone is very excited to see how Amir develops in 2024.


STAYING AT THE SALFORD STADIUM

It’ll be a third season in red and white for the 22-year-old.


MAGIC IN HIS BOOTS

Amir put in a solid shift at Magic Weekend in 2023 – keep an eye out to see how you can win his signed shirt.


ON THE DOTTED LINE

Signed, sealed, delivered – Amir’s grin probably says it all!


SEALED!

We can’t have a contract extension without Bleasy’s appearance!

BOUROUH: “HE’S A MASSIVE ROLE MODEL!”

Young hooker, Amir Bourouh has highlighted the importance of Andy Ackers in his development, upon penning a one-year contract extension.

Making 19 appearances during his first two seasons at the club, Bourouh has shown glimpses of what he can offer the team – often called upon in some big games during 2023.

He will now have the opportunity to play his trade in same environment for 12 months further, penning fresh terms to remain at Salford in 2024.

Speaking exclusively to our YouTube channel, Bourouh said: “Really good to get them (2024 plans) confirmed now.

“I was waiting around to see what I was doing next year – so I am really happy to be staying at Salford.”

One massive bonus for the 22-year-old is that two people already at the club are masters in the position where he is trying to pave his way.

England international, Andy Ackers is one of them and Bourouh says he is the perfect role model for him to work closely alongside.

“I think he’s been massive for me,” he continued.

“I’ve seen him come into the scene in probably a harder way than other hookers in the Super League – so he’s a massive role model and someone to look up to.

“I just need to do everything he’s doing and try to push him and get to the level he’s at now.”

The other – of course – is our Head Coach, Paul Rowley, who played at hooker to a very high standard in his playing days.

Bourouh believes it’s a lot more ‘personal’ for the pair when discussing how he can improve because of that very reason.

He finished: “It’s probably a lot more personal when it’s a position he’s played; so he might be harder on me, more honest and knows what he wants from me a lot more – so it makes my job easier when it comes to speaking to him.”

To hear more from Amir, head to our YouTube channel HERE for our full chat – make sure to hit subscribe!

AMIR BOUROUH PENS NEW ONE-YEAR SALFORD RED DEVILS CONTRACT

We are delighted to reveal talented hooker, Amir Bourouh has signed a new one-year deal at Salford Red Devils.

The 22-year-old will continue his exciting development under the tutelage of Paul Rowley across 2024, as he looks to achieve his full potential in a Red Devils’ shirt.

Bourouh actually made his Betfred Super League debut against Salford, but made the switch from Wigan Warriors in 2022, on a two-year deal.

He has since made 19 appearances for the first-team, with a more prominent role evident across 2023; often trusted in the absence of premiere hooker, Andy Ackers.

During his time at the club, Bourouh has also enjoyed loan spells at London Broncos, Barrow Raiders and Swinton Lions – gaining valuable match experience against some tough opposition.

By signing a one-year extension, the hooker can continue to work and hone his skills under a Head Coach who achieved so much, in the same position.

In reaction to extending his contract, Bourouh said: “I am over the moon to have extended my stay at Salford – looking forward to seeing you all next year!”

Head Coach, Paul Rowley added: “It is great news that Amir has extended his contract.

“The whole playing and coaching group have huge respect for Amir; he’s been a fantastic and valuable team member.

“He is a pleasure to coach and the playing group will be delighted that he is continuing his journey with this bunch of best mates!”

Director of Rugby & Operations, Ian Blease, has added: “Amir is a really exciting talent and I am glad we have been able to extend his contract by a further season.

“He is a player with a lot of potential and this club is definitely the right place for him to realise that – especially under this group of coaching staff.

“It was clear he grew in confidence across 2023 and I look forward to seeing how he can contribute to the team in 2024!”

Everyone at the club would like to congratulate Amir on his new deal.

Our young gun is locked-in for 2024, are you? Grab your season ticket HERE!

RESERVES MAKE IT BACK-TO-BACK WINS

Huddersfield 28  Salford 30        Match Report

Salford Red Devils Reserves took over, on Saturday afternoon, where their senior counterparts had left off the night before, by doubling the number of wins over the Huddersfield Giants this weekend, and also running up back-to-back wins of their own – but only just.

There had been so much to admire in their performance, throughout the majority of the fixture, with the Salford forwards taking control from the outset, and the Reds opening the scoring with ease, from two early converted tries in the first twelve minutes.  This was in some respects unsurprising as they were able to field a much bigger and physically stronger side than in recent weeks, owing to the return from injury of a couple of senior players and the inclusion of two or three loan players from Swinton.

They even had a purple patch at the start of the second half, when they took the game completely away from the opposition to open up a twenty-point lead, which enabled their travelling fans to relax briefly before the game was turned on its head. 

Due, most likely, to inexperience of game-managing a winning lead, with ten minutes to go that lead had been halved, and shortly afterwards reduced to a mere six points.  Almost unbelievably, the final kick of the game was to become the deciding factor in the result.

It was as the result of a Giants’ error in the seventh minute that right winger, Dan Harrison, suddenly found himself in possession on his own twenty metre line with no-one in front of him.  He therefore did what all good wingers do, he pinned back his ears and sped the remaining length of the field down the touchline, holding off all pursuers to score wide out, but not too far out for Matty Rudd to commence his one hundred percent goal-scoring feat, which was to prove so crucial, at the final whistle.

If that had not shocked the home team to the core, conceding back-to-back tries so early on must surely have done so, when at the end of the very next set, the resultant end kick led to Scott Parnaby adding the second.

Just as it might have been thought that the visitors could score at will, their hosts galvanised themselves and, aided by their kick off being dropped close to the Salford try line and a rather foolish set-restart being given away, they had enough tackles in the bag to force an overlap on the right for a converted try to open their account.

Such was the Red Devils’ dominance, however, they were able to wipe out this setback with another try of their own.  An end-of-set chip and chase led to a penalty, which in turn led to Jordan Brown forcing his way over, between the posts.

Had they been able to carry this 6-18 lead into half time, it would have given them a three-score cushioning, but a dropped ball in their own half gave possession to the Giants, and they forced another overlap, this time on the left flank to bring the score to10-18, at the interval.

No-one could have hoped for a better start to the second half than the Red Devils got, with two tries in the first five minutes.  The first came as a result of pressure on the Giants, whilst in possession close to their own line.  The ball was lost backwards, and Amir Bourouh was first to get to it, followed by Owen Blackwood making it another pair of back-to-back score when he crossed between the posts to bring the score to 10-30.

It was on the 58th minute that the game changed so remarkably.  A Salford mix up on attack, in the Giants’ left hand corner, led to two back-to-back penalties, and the resultant sets of possession saw Huddersfield narrow the gap by four points. 

From then on, the game became more and more frustrating for the Reds as a total of five penalties in twenty minutes gave the home side a new lease of life, with further tries on the 70th, 72nd, and 79th minutes.  Fortunately, only the first of these was converted, and their final kick, which every Huddersfield fan on the ground was willing to go over, missed, and the relieved Salford players ran out winners.

Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, was pleased with the way his team had performed for the bulk of the game, and in particular the ferocity of their physicality both in attack and defence, but equally pleased with the win.  He felt that Amir Bourouh had been outstanding throughout, showing creativity, providing inspiration, and standing head and shoulders above everyone else on either side, whilst Joe Coop was continuing to show improvement week in week out.

Their last fixture of the regular season will come next week when they make the long journey to Humberside to take on Hull KR, where they could make it a hat-trick of wins with which to round off.

SALFORD

Billy Walkley, Daniel Harrison, Owen Blackwood, Joseph Coope- Franklin, Scott Egan, Matthew Rudd, Joseph Lowe, Leunbou Bardyel Wells, Amir Bourouh, Matthew Unsworth, John Hutchings, Scott Parnaby, Rhys Davies

Subsitutes

Jordan Brown, Jacob Lee, Charlie Glover, Kellen Wood

18th PLAYER – Mikey Gilligan

BOUROUH – “I’VE COME ON A LOT!”

Amir Bourouh says Salford Red Devils are expecting a desperate Wakefield Trinity side and states the team need to be at their best if they want the win. 

Bourouh, who joined around this time last season, spoke to us before a Round 17 clash against Wakefield Trinity.

“We are expecting a team who are going to come out, desperate for a win, we need to be the best versions of ourselves if we want to get the win,” he said.

Bourouh arrived at the Red Devils from Wigan Warriors in 2022.

He has developed his skills over the past 12 months and is becoming a key player in the squad.

He says he’s still got a lot of work to do but he’s been getting better every game. 

“I think I’ve come on a lot and Krissy (Inu) has been working a lot with me during pre-season,” he continued.

The youngster says he has started to feel more like a hooker lately and has been learning with regular first-teamer Andy Ackers – someone who has been at the top for a while and been in the England camp at last summer’s World Cup.

With Ackers out injured after consecutive failed HIA assessment’s, Bourouh is hopeful he can get in the team this week after going in and out on loan during the year to both Swinton and Barrow, where he enjoyed successful spells.

Wakefield were winless for almost the entire first-half of the season; however, a recent win against Leeds has certainly boosted their Betfred Super League survival hopes.

Being at home this week – where they defeated the Rhinos 24-14 – should be a big confidence for the side sat rock bottom of the table.

Bourouh stated that the home side will show that they are desperate for the two points and that Salford need to be at their very best if they want to stop that from happening. 

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