BILLY WALKLEY AND CHARLIE GLOVER SELECTED FOR WELSH INTERNATIONAL DUTY

Billy Walkley and Charlie Glover have both been selected in Wales’ 20-player squad for the Chairman’s XIII fixture against Cumbria.

This fixture is part of Kyle Amor’s testimonial and will also provide WRL with the chance to recognise the contribution of former Chair, Brian Juliff, who has stood down after 11 years in the role.

Earlier this year, Walkley was added to Paul Rowley’s first-team squad alongside teammate, Joe Coope-Franklin and has developed his game even further across 2023.

The fullback came through our partnership with Coleg y Cymoedd and the Welsh Rugby League Academy.

Glover originally progressed through the Reds Elite Development Pathway – via Chris Irwin – and has came through the ranks to impress in the Reserves set-up under Head Coach, Stuart Wilkinson.

He will no doubt now garner some valuable experience in the international set-up.

We’d like to say a huge congratulations to the lads and wish them the best of luck in their upcoming game.

RESRVES QUELL THUNDER IN FINAL HOME GAME

Salford 32  Newcastle 10                               Match Report

A frantic opening onslaught by the Salford Red Devils, in which they outpaced the clock for points per minute by registering fourteen in the opening ten, laid the foundation for last Saturday’s convincing home victory over Newcastle Thunder.

It was at the end of the very first set of good approach work with strong carries and accurate passes, which had taken them to within ten metres of the visitors’ try line, that the ball was moved from right to left along the line, until scrum half, Jack Stevens, sent a fabulous long pass straight into the arms of winger, Billy Walkley who, with that little bit of extra space, went in at the corner.

After only a few tackles of the return set, again, telling passes put centre, Owen Blackwood through on a most impressive run, before further slick handling, this time to the right edge saw winger, Scott Egan, score the first of what was to end up as a hat-trick of tries.

Stevens, who had found the conversions from the two touchlines a little too far out to add on the extras, then took matters into his own hands, cutting through to score under the posts, on ten minutes.  There was no mistake this time with his straight-forward conversion sailing between the posts.  It was, however, to be pretty much his last contribution to the match, as a few minutes later he sustained an injury to his hamstring and had to retire to the dugout for the remainder of the time.

So torrid had the Newcastle side found the opening stanza that one feared that the afternoon might prove to be a no contest, but remarkably, there was to be no further score, for the remainder of the half.  Two contributory factors were responsible for this, with firstly the visitors’ introduction of rather more experienced players from the bench.

The Red Devils, in the meantime, did lose a little concentration and errors started to creep in and mar what had, hitherto, been a near perfect performance.   Two further clear-cut chances on the right edge were lost by inaccurate final passes, whilst penalties for a variety of reasons invited the Thunder into their half to test their defence.

The one aspect of their play on which they did not relax, however, was their end-of-set kick-chases, with hooker Kellan Wood producing some excellent punts down-field, eagerly raced after, and the clearing runs from the receivers halted in their tracks within moments.  This ability to turn defence into attack was probably one of the highlights of their play, and saved so much time, energy, and stress in goal-line defence.

When, eventually, the scoreline did change, seven minutes into the second half, somewhat surprisingly, it was Newcastle who took advantage of two repeat sets in the Reds’ half, to go over, close enough to the posts for a successful conversion, narrowing the score to 14-6.

Having been suddenly nudged out of the comfort of a three-score lead, the Red Devils roused themselves to regain field dominance, and Wood capped his most praiseworthy all-round performance, when he skipped over from a play-the-ball close to the line for a try converted by Matty Rudd, on 51 mins

 A tremendous crash tackle on a relieving Thunder defender, three minutes later, forced the ball free to give Scott Egan his second try, this time under the posts to take the score to 26-6, but there was still another try left in the visitors, who, on 62 mins, in circumstances not dissimilar to their first score, took themselves into double figures.

There was still time left, though, for Scott Egan to round off his, and the team’s tally, nine minutes from the end, after excellent handling by Nathan Connell and Billy Walkley, both of whom had impressed despite being significantly involved in the reshuffle surrounding Stevens’s departure.  Despite his having to take the goal kick from the touchline, Matty Rudd added the extras, whilst Scott Egan was unfortunately denied a fourth try, in the final minute, owing to a forward pass.

Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, was most pleased by what he considered his team’s most impressive and aggressive performance so far, with prop, Bardyel Wells, involved in an eyebrow-raising fifty two tackles during the game, and still having the energy to put in a significant number of bone crunching hit ups, whilst it was a welcome back from injury for fellow prop, Charlie Glover.

So, after this latest success, a trip to Huddersfield in a fortnight’s time will bring their regular season to its conclusion.

SALFORD

Nathan Connell, Scott Egan Owen Blackwood, Mikey Gilligan, Billy Walkley, Matty Rudd, Jack Stevens, Bardyel Wells, Kellen Wood, Charlie Glover, Jacob Lee, John Hutchings, Matty Unsworth

Substitutes

Lucas Iles, Finley Yates, Mason Phillips, Jorge Cabral

SALFORD RESERVES MOUNT GRAND SECOND HALF FIGHT BACK

Salford 22  Leeds 36     Match Report

It is hardly surprising, when you take into consideration all that Leeds Rhinos have available to them in terms of recruitment to their Reserves side, compared with Salford, that encounters between the two sides can sometimes be most one sided – not that that proved to be the case in their latest contest, last Saturday – for whilst Salford have to vie with the likes of Wigan, St Helens, and Warrington for their recruits, the Rhinos have the whole of West Yorkshire, even over onto this side of the Pennines from which they have first choice as to whom they sign.

When, therefore, on Saturday, the Rhinos swept into a 30-6 lead, in the 42nd minute, it looked for all the world as though the remaining 38 would continue along the same lines.  True, the Reds had managed to get on the scoreboard on 23 mins, to erode into what, at that point, had been Leeds’s sixteen-point lead, but as the visitors then went on to increase their tally through two further converted tries to bring up a 26-6 half-time lead, it looked as though that solitary try might turn out to be mere consolation.

What, however, that scoreline did not show was the way that, after the shock of conceding the opening try on four minutes, the Red Devils had gradually started to work their way back into the game, marshalling their defence for over ten minutes to withstand lengthy periods of attack before succumbing once more to a four-pointer in the corner.

When their try eventually came it was well worth having waited for.  A penalty kick gave them good position in the Leeds twenty, and some fine handling culminated in fullback Billy Walkley putting winger, Scott Egan, over near the corner, from which Jack Stevens did extremely well to land the goal from out wide.

Despite this, and many other smaller positives, Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, says that the whole side was disappointed with the first half in general, and had been yearning for the half time interval to take stock and regroup.

“They are quite a young group, and when they were struggling to get a foothold in the game, they were also individually wrestling with themselves mentally as to how to deal with the situation.  The half time talk gave them the focus they needed.”

Not that any reward came immediately, with Leeds adding a further four points two minutes into the half, but gradually the momentum of the game began to shift in the Reds’ favour.  They retained possession for longer and built up their own spells of attack which eventually paid dividends.

It was as a consequence of extended pressure over several minutes, that their first score of the second half came, on 52 mins, when a quick play-the-ball, close to Leeds’s try line by Bardyel Wells enabled Finlay Yates to surge over from dummy half, giving Stevens a straightforward successful conversion attempt.

Fifteen minutes later, Salford’s patience, perseverance, and persistence, all of which are necessary in games which had suddenly become as tightly fought as this one had, saw the Rhinos becoming the architects of their own downfall when a defender ripped the ball in a tackle, backwards over his own line, to which Kellen Wood was first to react, and rewarded with the try.  Stevens, once again added the goal points.

Had anyone been in doubt, after this, that the visitors were starting to get somewhat rattled, that doubt was surely removed when John Hutchings finished off a fine handling move with another Stevens converted try to bring the Reds to within eight points, on 70 mins.

If only they could have kept their line intact for the final ten minutes, it would have made a quite impressive final score against one of the top clubs in the league.  Sadly, that was not to be as the Rhinos capitalised on a penalty, on 74 mins, to add a comforting, further six points to round off the scoring.

As far as this second half turnaround was concerned, Stuart Wilkinson was pleased with the way his charges had responded, though regretful of the fact that it had taken too long for them to do so.  He was however well satisfied with the contributions and progress his three Welsh players, Joe Coop-Franklin, Billy Walkley, and Jacob Lee had made, both in this game and on a match-by-match basis.

They, and the rest of the team will be able to take all that a stage further, in three weeks’ time when they entertain Newcastle in their next league fixture.

SALFORD

Billy Walkley, Scott Egan, George Charnock, Joe Coope-Franklin, Owen Blackwood, Nathan Connell, Jack Stevens, Lucas Iles, Kellen Wood, Bardyel Wells, Joen Hutchings, James Greenwood, Matty Unsworth

Substitute, Jacob Lee, Finley Yates, Euan Haynes, Lucas Coan

RED DEVILS SHAKE WARRIORS WITH OPENING BLITZ

Salford Reserves 12  Wigan Reserves 42 Match Report

First team rugby apart, Salford’s results of matches with the Wigan Warriors at virtually every other level, over decades, have been littered with defeats by considerable amounts, and on some occasions without the Reds even managing to get on the scoreboard.

Not on the occasion last Monday evening, when the two sides met once again, however, with the Red Devils stunning their visitors with a whirlwind of an opening which saw them cross twice in the first ten minutes, to open up an eight-point lead, which could have been even more but for Jack Stevens’s attempted conversion to the first, hitting the upright.

What was all the more remarkable was that the Salford team was the most inexperienced Reserve side to have taken the field, this season.  Most encouraging of all was the fact that eight of them had come through the Salford Pathway, having played in the age-related youth sides such as the Salford Red Devils College Academy U19s.

One name, which will possibly be remembered by those familiar with that particular group of players, is that of Nathan Connell, who, along with others, over recent seasons has caught the eye on a regular basis with some significant contributions to the side’s performances.  For him, though, this match turned out to be a personal triumph, with his being absolutely pivotal to that opening onslaught.

On the fourth tackle of the very first set, he slipped a cleverly timed pass to another of the Pathways group, George Charnock, which put the centre into the clear, and then backed him up all the way to take the return pass and score to the right of the posts giving the Red Devils one of their fastest opening tries of the season.

It was then on ten minutes that a Salford end-of-set kick to the left corner was fumbled backwards by Wigan, and again it was he, who was first to pounce and double their lead.

Unfortunately, we had to wait until midway through the second half for the Reds to increase their score further, but it was well worth the wait with its coming from some most impressive handling along the line from left to right, and each pass most telling.  The final, long pass, which we tend to associate solely with Super League rugby, was yet again from Connell with his floating the ball straight into the hands of right winger, Billy Walkley, who did well to cross in the corner, to wrap up the Salford account.

Yes, it was Wigan, who they were playing, and once they had got over their opening shock, they took control in the way that Wigan feeder teams always do, against almost anyone.  The final thirty points difference, though, was far lower than has often been the case in the past, and that is testament just as much to the Salford defence, as to their attack.

Sadly, one early, most valiant try-saving tackles, on five minutes, by left winger, Calum Hughes, led to a lengthy stoppage in play as, in so doing, he received a nasty-looking injury, which required hospital attention.

Most coincidentally, the second half was similarly disrupted on the fifth minute of that half, when the doctor was called to the Wigan dressing room to deal with one of their players, who had suffered an injury, late in the first half, and again a lengthy period had to elapse before the doctor was able to return pitch-side, and the game could resume.

Other players who can feel well-satisfied with their performances were prop, Lucas Iles, who stood up magnificently to the strength of the Wigan pack which included Ri’chards Nsemba, whose first team experience was quite evident, and Jack Stevens, whose lack of success with his kicks at goal was made up for with his more general kicking-game, which included a superb forty-twenty, towards the end of the game.

Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, was justifiably not only well pleased with his side’s performance throughout the whole game, but also highly impressed with the club’s handling of the two medical incidents, which caused such intrusion into the game’s continuity.

“I was most impressed with the way the club handled both incidents.  Our physios, doctor, and club officers all responded brilliantly, remaining calm, supportive and professional throughout, in a way that one would always hope for.  They all deserve the utmost praise for their handling of both situations,” was his judgement.

SALFORD

Nathan Connell, Billy Walkley, George Charnock, Calum Hughes, Matthew Rudd, Jack Stevens, Alex Davidson, Kellen Wood, Lucas Iles, Joseph Cooper-Franklin, Jacob Lee, Matthew Unsworth

Substitutes

Harry Files, Mason Phillips, Jorge Cabral, Finlay Yates, Euan Haynes

WIGAN

Noah Hodkinson, Ethan Fitzgerald, Nathan Lowe, Jeffrey Maddox, Charlie Yeomans, Jack Farrimond, Trent Kelly-Duffy, Thomas Forber, Kian McDermott, Finlay Irwin, Ri’chards Nsemba, Taylor Kerr

Substitutes

Dylan Kelly-Duffy, Ryan Brown, Harvey Wilson, Reece Bushell, Kalum Rathbone

JOE COOPE-FRANKLIN AND BILLY WALKLEY ADDED TO FIRST-TEAM SQUAD

We’re delighted to announce Joe Coope-Franklin and Billy Walkley have been added to Paul Rowley’s first-team squad and will wear numbers 29 and 30 respectively.

The pair have both progressed through our partnership with Coleg y Cymoedd and the Welsh Rugby League Academy. After spending time in our reserves set-up, Paul Rowley and his staff have decided it’s the right time for them to join the first-team squad.

Coope-Franklin is a natural centre and has already made his Salford Red Devils debut in our final Betfred Super League game of 2022 against Warrington Wolves. Walkley is a full-back and will provide fierce competition for Ryan Brierley and Dan Sarginson.

In reaction to making the step-up, Coope-Franklin said: “Being selected to train with the Salford Red Devils first-team full-time is a great achievement and something I have been aiming towards since I started training for the reserves.

“The reserves set-up has benefitted my rugby league understanding and skills. With the help of Stuart Wilkinson and the rest of the reserves coaches, my ambitions to be a professional rugby league player has come around sooner than I thought.

“The move up north was made easier by the support of UCLAN, where I have developed as a rugby league player too. Thank you to Paul Rowley for giving me this opportunity and I hope to take full advantage of it.”

Billy Walkley also said: “I am thankful for the opportunity given to me to join the first-team.

“The help from Stuart Wilkinson in the reserves and UCLAN, have made this move up north much easier for me, which allowed me to just be myself and perform throughout pre-season with confidence.”

Stuart Wilkinson, reserve team Head Coach, has said: “There are a number of Welsh kids within our pathway now. We have a really good partnership with UCLAN and the some of the local businesses, where these boys have been relocated.

“And within less than 12 months, Joe and Billy have caught the eye of the first-team staff. It gives a lot of credit to the people who are part of this pathway and make it possible for players to come from a different part of the country and start to develop their skills for life, alongside their rugby skills.

“Joe and Billy are the first to emerge from that pathway, and I’m speaking on behalf of everyone when I say I’m really proud. People like Chris Irwin, John Fieldhouse and Paul Trainor have worked really hard to find them positions locally with businesses and UCLAN.”

He continued: “They’ve thrived and flourished, and now caught the eye of the first-team staff, so we’re really excited to see them get a first-team contract and get ready for the challenge.

“They’re still teenagers, but as they get to work with World Cup stars like Tim Lafai and Man of Steel, Brodie Croft, I can really see these two young athletes kicking on.

“They could easily play for Salford for the next ten years if they show the same dedication and commitment that they’ve shown so far.”

Director of Rugby and Operations, Ian Blease added: “I’m absolutely delighted that our partnership with Coleg y Cymoedd and the Welsh Rugby League Academy has produced two players ready to step-up to the first-team.

“When myself and Paul Rowley went down to Wales in 2021, it was evident straight away that these two lads had talent and I’m thrilled that their hard work and dedication has earned them this incredible opportunity.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how these two lads progress and hopefully they are just two of many to progress through the same pathway.”

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