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. 

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V WIGAN

After a month’s absence from their home venue at the Salford Stadium, the Red Devils returned from their travels, on Sunday last, to entertain the Wigan Warriors, in what turned out to be, since their move there, a record attendance of spectators, for this Round 16 encounter.

It must have felt like an extremely bold step for the Directors to target, publicly, the breaking of the previously existing record, but by so doing it pioneered the way for the newly publicly owned club to draw on its resources of bodies around the town to rally round and help drive up the numbers to ensure a successful outcome in this respect.

It was not only the attendance, however, which marked the occasion, as a whole-day event had been planned to celebrate both the first home fixture under the new ownership and also Armed Forces Day, which culminated with a triple shot from a cannon at the northwest corner of the ground, thereby rousing the assembled multitude to greater excitement than ever.

And so, even before a ball had been kicked, the day had proved to be a considerable success and significant occasion for all those present, for which every single person involved in its inception and organisation deserves the utmost praise and gratitude.

For a game against such a side as the mighty Warriors and on such a special occasion, however, the side would really have preferred not to have had two members of its spine missing through injury, as was the case with both Andy Ackers and Brodie Croft.  Not that that reflects in any way upon their replacements, Amir Bourouh and the versatile Chris Atkin, who both slotted in smoothly at hooker and half back, respectively.

To then lose a third member of that crucial spine, in Ryan Brierley from the fullback role, on 35 mins, however, was a blow which really took its toll alongside the others, and it was probably as a result of the reorganization necessitated by this that led to the visitors snatching a half time lead from the grasp of the reshuffled Salford side, three minutes from the interval.

Every minute of that first half, though, had been keenly contested, set-for-set, throughout the full forty-minutes, with the Red Devils standing up magnificently to the Wiganers throughout the first quarter of the game, with solid defence and strong carries forward.

It was, therefore, as late as the 21st minute, before the Warriors opened the scoring with an unconverted try, after a sustained period of pressure brought about by repeat sets on the back of goal-line drop-outs and occasional Salford touches of the ball.  It is testament to the Salford players that they were able to repel the attack for as long as they had done.

Despite having had some early pressure of their own, though, the Red Devils had not really had sufficient field position to ask many questions of the Wigan defence, but then produced their best attack of the half when fine interplay down the left between Joe Burgess, Brierley, and Tim Lafai, took them into their opponents twenty metre area. 

An obliging penalty helped them remain a little bit longer down there, and after Ken Sio had gone close to scoring, the ever-improving Ben Helliwell put himself in a great position to receive Marc Sneyd’s slick pass and go over for their one try of the game, which, with Sneyd’s conversion, put them in front.

Having had the half-time break in which to restructure and regalvanise the side after the loss of Brierley, the Reds went straight into the attack, and good handling forced a most promising-looking overlap, on 43 mins, only for a rather wild pass into touch to scupper the opportunity, when simple one-to-on passing might well have turned the game in their favour.

As it was, a Salford handling error, three minutes later saw Wigan draw further ahead with a try direct from the ensuing scrum, with two more scores coming at ten to twelve minute intervals, to stretch the score beyond the hopes of the Red Devils.

They nevertheless still continued to take the game to Wigan in the last ten minutes but so well-drilled is the Warriors’ defence that they were prepared to concede set-restarts, which would once have brought a penalty, right throughout the game, thus nullifying the Salford attack, until six minutes from the end, when another missed opportunity, this time on the left, was lost with a poor final pass to Burgess, who would have had a walk in.

Looking back on the second half, unlike the visitors who were clinical in their finishing, it was the Reds’ failure to capitalise on those two scoring opportunities which gave the final score such a significant difference.  Even had only one of them brought a try it would have put them into double figures, whilst scoring both and with conversions would have put them within a somewhat more creditable eight points.

Disappointing a result as it was, though, it could in no way detract from the impressive event the club had turned the day into being.  It is an occasion when everyone could feel proud to have been involved with the club and to have been in attendance to savour and enjoy it.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: ST HELENS V SALFORD (PLAY OFF SEMI-FINAL)

Salford Red Devils’ hopes and aspirations for a place in this year’s Grand Final, together with their 2022 season, came to an end on Saturday last, with their 19-12 semi-final defeat at the hands of the League Leaders Shield holders, St Helens, at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Disappointing as the result has been, for everyone connected with the club, it has to be viewed in the context of the whole season.  There can have been very few, who, at the start of the year would have given Salford much chance of reaching the play-offs, let alone the semi-final, after vanquishing the much-vaunted Huddersfield side on their own meadow, and keeping them pointless in the process.

Following that, St Helens, with a place in the Bet Fred Super League Grand Final at stake, had clearly done their homework on the Red Devils and there can be no mistaking that they had identified their own strengths and played to them, with considerable gusto.

These lay, most significantly, around their superior physicality and intensity.  Not by chance are they the team to have conceded the least number of points in the season, for their tackling, particularly in the opening period, was ruthless, and at times, verging on the brutal, while the pressure they put on the Salford players with their line-speed restricted Salford to a mere few metres on the occasions they had the ball.

By comparison, the Red Devils took some while to utilise their own strengths in order to gain much in the way of ascendency.  Their initial problem had its roots from the previous week, with the loss of Brodie Croft, but no-one could possibly have imagined that this would be compounded, two minutes into this game, by the complete withdrawal of Andy Ackers, with yet another head injury.

Not that anyone should detract from the contributions of their two replacements.  Amir Bourouh put in an incredibly sterling performance in defence with an extremely high number of tackles, while Chris Atkin was the subject of some extremely hard hits, including a chicken-wing tackle which saw the sin-binning of Knowles shortly after an accidental head-high knock from Welsby, yet he continued to perform to his best, being involved in setting up Kallum Watkins for his try, two minutes later.

Salford’s surge up the league table, in the last three months has been built around the ability of their strike players, out-wide, to tear through opposition defences as a result of the team’s setting them up with exciting flamboyant rugby, which has been so marvellous to watch.  Croft and Ackers have been so pivotal to this: Ackers with his speedy ball distribution from dummy-half and his darting scoots through retreating lines, while Croft has been central to the decimation of so many opposing teams with his clever footwork, allied to his shrewd timing and accurate passing.

Losing both of these for such a finely balanced encounter was much greater than simply losing two-fifths of the spine of the team, which was bad enough in itself.  Other players found themselves having to execute their own plays with much less time than they normally have had.  Marc Sneyd, for example, was pressured on almost every kick, as evidenced by his forty-twenty attempt just failing to make the line, and Saints regaining possession for the restart.

Nevertheless, the Red Devils can take great satisfaction with the way they coped with all of this.  Initially, it was their valiant defence in the face of that early pressure, which impressed, with their limiting the Saints to two scores only and then keeping them try-less for the following fifty-three minutes.  By comparison, Salford’s first try came from Watkins on their first attack, in the thirtieth minute.

As has come to be expected of them, the Reds’ handling was the more adventurous and entertaining, as indeed were their tries.  St Helens were reliant upon short kicks into the in-goal area for two of theirs, whereas both of Salford’s came from clever, slick handling, with Ryan Brierley’s 60th minute score being easily the best of the afternoon, starting with swift hands to the left putting Joe Burgess in the clear down the left wing.

At 13-12, then, it really had become either side’s game, but sadly fortune favoured the Saints, with both Elijah Taylor and Tim Lafai being denied opportunities to score, the first for an obstruction in the build up, and Lafai’s being obstructed by Makinson, who was sin-binned for doing so.

It would be too easy for short-term disappointment to over-shadow the team’s achievement in being out on the field, that afternoon.  Far more important is for them to use the experience upon which to build next year.  Their 2017 Challenge Cup Semi-Final defeat by Wigan became a platform from which they became Grand Finalists, eighteen months later.  Next season could well be the time they go one-better-still.  2023 season tickets are available already, so take advantage of our Early Bird offer, which runs until 15th December.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH:  HULL KR V SALFORD

Not for the first time, a team in a rich vein of form paid the price for a fixture-free weekend, with a loss of momentum and subsequently, a loss of quality in their performance.  That certainly appeared to be the case with Salford, in their outing to East Hull to take on the Robins, following two fine home victories over Leeds and Castleford.

The lapse of seventeen days between the last of those, and yesterday, was enough to take a little of the shine off their performances, as was exemplified by their failure to capitalise on the most clear-cut of try-scoring opportunities, six minutes into the game.

Fine handling from Amir Bourouh, Tim Lafae, Alex Gerrard, and Brodie Croft, virtually on their own try-line, successfully sent Deon Croft, supported by Ken Sio on his inside, sprinting down the right wing.  With only the covering Ethan Ryan to beat, a simple two on one was all that was required, but the pair, who normally have such a great understanding with each other on attack, had too much time to think about it and consequently over-complicated it with two, almost unnecessary, passes.

In fairness, Ryan did extremely well in the situation by not committing himself, totally to any tackle, and the chance petered out as the attacking pair ran out of room along the touch line.  The contrasting effects on the two sides, however, was the most significant outcome, with the home-side growing in confidence, and, soon after, taking a ten-point lead, with back-to-back tries.

Their tally continued to grow throughout the half to nineteen, through two goals, a try, and a drop-goal, but the Red Devils did manage to pull back six points with a converted try of their own, on 27 mins.  Hull had great difficulty in dealing with Harvey Livett’s kick into the in-goal area, with two players fumbling it for Tim Lafae to pounce upon.  Marc Sneyd added the goal-kick.

Singular as that score was, it was sufficient to put the visitors back in contention, and with only thirteen points separating the two sides at half time, confidence still remained that Salford could come back in the second half, just as they had done against much greater odds, at Wakefield.

Unfortunately, that was not to be.  A no-look flip-pass, close to the Robins’ try line, which might have initiated a try for Salford, was intercepted, and quickly led to their hosts extending their lead by a further six points, and, from that point, events turned significantly in their favour.

Most crucial of all were the two, virtually back-to-back, sin-binnings of Tyler Dupree and Livett, which meant that the rest of the team were left facing the buoyant KR with only twelve men for twenty minutes, during which time the home side exploited their numerical advantage, and continued to build up a quite commanding lead.

The Red Devils did however round off the match with a further couple of tries, sandwiching a final six-pointer for Hull, which gave the Salford fans something to cheer about, before their long journey home, Deon Cross latching onto the end of another kick into the in-goal area, and then Joe Burgess benefitting from Lafae’s interception to put him away,

Six weeks ago, the Red Devils most impressively improved their performances in the league game at Wigan.  This Friday will be the ideal opportunity for them to repeat that feat when the Cup holders visit the A J Bell for the return encounter.

SALFORD SIGN YOUNG HOOKER AMIR BOUROUH

Salford Red Devils are delighted to announce the signing of Wigan Warriors hooker Amir Bourouh on a two-year deal, with the option of a further year.

The 20-year-old made his Betfred Super League debut against Salford in 2019 for Wigan, going on to make 7 appearances for the Warriors before being loaned out to Betfred Championship side Halifax Panthers this year.

Bourouh, who will arrive at Salford at the end of the year, has impressed during his 11 appearances for Halifax, scoring two tries and picking up a Man of the Match award in the Panthers’ 17-16 victory over Widnes Vikings in July.

Speaking on signing for the club, Bourouh said: “I’m really excited to play for the club and in front of the Salford fans.

“After speaking with Richard (Marshall) and Ian (Blease) and seeing their ambition for the future, my decision was easily made.

“I want to challenge myself in the Super League and hopefully contribute to success in years to come.”

Salford Red Devils head coach Richard Marshall, who was head coach at Halifax from 2015 to 2019, said: “Amir is a promising young hooker who I’ve been monitoring for a while. He’s shone during his loan spell at Halifax and after speaking with my connections there, they were very impressed with him and couldn’t speak highly enough of his qualities.

“There was quite a bit of interest in Amir and we are certainly pleased he has chosen us to continue his development. He will work really well with Andy Ackers and I am looking forward to working with him over preseason and beyond.”

Director of rugby and operations Ian Blease added: “I was so excited when I watched Amir live this season, more so in a player that I’ve not seen for some time.

“He’s a young gun looking to progress at Super League level but we will look after him the ‘Salford Way’ and let him develop his true potential with us in the long term deal we have agreed.

I can’t wait to start to develop something special at the club with Amir, he’s got it all. We will give him the platform to get to the top.”

Bourouh is the latest addition to Marshall’s squad ahead of the 2022 season, with halfbacks Ata Hingano and Brodie Croft also recently signing for Salford.

Red Devils recruitment is brought to you by Morson.

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