TEAM NEWS | CUST IN AT NINE FOR INJURED MELLOR

Paul Rowley has been forced to make changes to his team who beat Huddersfield Giants last Friday.

Versatile hooker, Joe Mellor has broke his hand, so Cade Cust is at nine, with a more natural replacement in Amir Bourouh returning to take a place on the interchange bench.

The rest of the starting 13 remains the same, so that means Brad Singleton will continue to gain match fitness from the off, following a spell on the sidelines.

A major reshuffle comes with our interchanges, as King Vuniyayawa, Chris Hankinson and Ben Hellewell – who have all returned from injuries themselves – replaced the wounded Shane Wright, Joe Shorrocks and Gil Dudson.

Check out the line-up below and head to social media to give your reaction:

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.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V LEIGH

A final fifteen-minute fightback by the visiting Leigh Leopards, in last Saturday’s aptly titled Rivals’ Round, at the Salford Stadium, proved insufficient in overturning what had seemed a comfortable twenty-point margin, following a game which, apart from the occasional blip, the Red Devils had dominated from quite early in the proceedings.

With the added impetus, had it been needed, of its being Ryan Brierley’s three hundredth professional appearance, after a somewhat tame opening stanza, the home side took control upon the sinbinning of Leigh’s Lachlan Lam, on six minutes.

Indeed, it was Brierley, who, determined to make his mark on the match continually throughout the first half, was obstructed by the Leopard’s stand-off, whilst chasing Mark Sneyd’s end-of-set kick-in-goal, and the Reds made good use of the benefit of the extra man, over the following ten minutes.

Sneyd gratefully accepted the opportunity to kick his side into the lead with the first of his, once again, hundred percent success goal kicking rate, from the resultant penalty, and then six minutes later Brierley again came to the fore with the first of his brace of tries.

Three back-to-back sets – so indicative of the Red Devils’ domination – set up the position, and continued pressure, on the Leigh line, which he eventually broke, much to the delight of the two hospitality-box full of his friends and family, with the combination of a dummy and clever step inside as the ball was being moved towards the right wing.

Although he might have had some success in gaining the video referee’s judgement in his earlier collision with Lam, Joe Mellor, on his Salford debut, possibly felt rather hard done to, on eighteen minutes, when, not for the first time for Salford this season, his collision with Gareth O’Brien was not passed on for further scrutiny.

As a consequence, Leigh were inspired to more determined effort which paid off, on twenty-six minutes, with Hanley’s try, virtually out of nothing, in the corner, eroding the Salford lead to four points.

Not for long, though, for within minutes of the restart, the Red Devils had stretched it even further, as a result of a great passing move involving both half backs.  Starting with Sneyd’s pass to him, Cade Cust showed how far their partnership has developed by pirouetting round and slipping the ball to the oncoming, man of the moment, Brierley, to zig-zag his way to the line, for his second try of the evening.

Even then there was still time for another score, this time from Ethan Ryan to mark his first try in a Salford jersey, on 35 mins, which Sneyd improved to notch up a 20-4 lead further underlining Salford’s dominance.

Oh, that that had been the end of events for the half, but unfortunately that was not the case, as things turned rather more sour for Brierley as he was sinbinned twenty seconds from time for a late tackle on Hanley which prevented the winger scoring, but with Lam kicking the resultant penalty.

A man down for the first nine minutes of the second half made for a rather fraught opening spell for the Red Devils, especially in the first couple of back-to-back sets, when the visitors threw the ball around with much greater sense of purpose and forced gaps in the Salford defence which they exploited, though, thankfully, without a score.

In fact, credit to them, the Salford players grew in stature throughout the remainder of the sinbinning, controlling possession and territory with fine game management, which continued throughout most of the remaining time, and they gained the rewards for this on 55 mins.

A long Leopards’ pass to the right wing went clearly forward, and from the resultant possession Sneyd crossed close to the posts thanks to Oli Partington’s incredible slipped pass backwards, whilst in the act of being tackled.

The restoration of their twenty-point lead seems possibly to have produced a sense of comfort to the Reds performance, which Leigh were quick to exploit five minutes later, and though Ryan’s second, 71st minute try in the corner extended their score to 32 points, it was sandwiched between two further scores by Hanley to complete his hat-trick on the back of a first from Lam on 60 mins, as the Leopards threw caution to the wind with slick, fast, entertaining handling to cross on 67 and 76 minutes.

Although making no difference to the actual outcome, the visitors’ ascendency, over the final quarter, did make for a scoreline which bore little resemblance to the greatest portion of the game, but hopefully this will sound as a warning to the Salford players of the importance of finishing teams off completely, whilst still in a position to do so.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: LEEDS V SALFORD

It must have seemed the ideal opening fixture to the Leeds Rhinos, when first announced – a home game against a Salford side which had had to overcome a somewhat more turbulent close-season than most, whilst the fact that two of its former stars, Andy Ackers and Brodie Croft, were now resplendent in the ranks of the new-look Rhinos side, added even more spice to the occasion.

Fast forward to the seventieth minutes of the game itself, however, and that assumed, initial exuberance must have soured considerably, with the Red Devils having put all of the above behind them, taken the game by the scruff of the neck, and enforced their domination onto it to the extent that they were, by this point, in the lead at 14-16, having held pole position on the scoreboard for around three-quarters of the encounter.

It had all been down to the sheer determination, commitment, self-belief both as a team and individually, and clear understanding, adherence to, and confidence in the game plan, which for much of the time appears to have worked like a dream. It started with an immaculate kicking game from scrum half, Marc Sneyd, which had the home side’s defence in all sorts of trouble, turning them around, scrambling to defuse them, and even causing handling errors in recovery.

He, it was, who put in the neatest of angled kicks, behind the defence, for fellow halfback, Cade Cust, out of all the debutants on view that evening, to be the one to open the scoring by grounding between the posts, with Sneyd converting for a six point lead.

Oli Partington, surprisingly, was Salford’s other try scorer; ‘surprisingly’ because in his role he gets little opportunity of doing so. On this occasion, however, Leeds’s defensive line opened up for him, seemingly convinced he was going to send out a pass to the left. His speedy reaction of exploiting same opening brought him his first score in Salford colours.

Not that there were not adversities to overcome. Two sinbinnings meant that the Reds were down to twelve men for ten minutes in each half, and indeed Leeds scored two of their three tries during those two spells. The first saw the Rhinos utilise the extra man in getting Handley in the clear close to his own line, whilst the other came from powerhouse, Lisone, who supported a half break close to the line and, from there, there was no chance of stopping him putting the Rhinos ahead at this crucial point of the game.

What none of this does, however, is reflect the incredible defensive effort the Salford players put in right throughout the game. Two periods, one in each half, had the home side camped on the Red Devils line for seemingly interminable lengths of time, without any possession to give them some little respite, as Leeds got repeat set after repeat set, yet ending it all with absolutely nothing to show for either.

In the end, it was down to an extremely high penalty count in favour of the Rhinos. Not only did this give Martin chance to add to his hundred percent goal kicking performance, on other occasions it added to the energy-sapping defending the Reds had to do. Undoubtedly, the coaching staff will have this in hand a will work to eliminate this particular snag. All the other signs are that the team could cause some real upsets as the season progresses.

CUST: “IT’S BEEN AN EASY TRANSITION!”

Cade Cust says he has enjoyed his first full week as a Salford Red Devils player.

The Aussie signed for the club after a two-year stint at Wigan Warriors, signing a one-year deal, with the option to extend his stay by a further season.

A powerful halfback, Cust will be hoping to kick-on his career with some regular game time, under the tutelage of Paul Rowley.

Speaking to our YouTube channel, Cust was asked what abilities he will be bringing to the squad during 2024.

“Definitely a running game,” he began.

“I think I’m a powerful six, so hopefully I can play plenty of games, stay on the pitch and get plenty of wins for the club – I’m really looking forward to it.

“One of the main things for me is playing consistent, week in, week out and putting points on the board.”

On his first week as a whole, the 25-year-old said: “It’s been very enjoyable.

“First week is obviously the hardest, so I feel like I’ve fit in really well with the players and the coaching staff.”

Cust has joined a very close-nit group; a bond that’s powered the team to some famous victories over the last 24 months.

“It’s been perfect,” he continued when discussing the group dynamic.

“Everyone has welcomed me and it’s been an easy transition. I knew a few boys from Wigan and a couple of the Aussie’s I get along really well with!”

To hear our full, first interview with Cade, click HERE to head to our YouTube channel – make sure to subscribe.

CADE CUST SIGNS FOR SALFORD RED DEVILS

We are delighted to reveal the signing of Cade Cust on a one-year deal, with an option to extend by a further season.

The Aussie becomes our fifth addition of the off-season, joining Papua New Guinea international, Nene Macdonald, Ireland international, Ethan Ryan, as well as Matty Foster and Kai Morgan, through the door.

Born in Scone, New South Wales, Cust began his rugby league career at the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, making his NRL debut in 2019.

After making 10 appearances, the halfback signed a two-year deal at Wigan Warriors, where he made 40 appearances, scoring six tries.

During his time at the DW, Cust has won the Betfred Super League, the League Leaders Shield and the Betfred Challenge Cup – playing a vital role in their final success against Huddersfield Giants in 2022.

He now makes the switch to Salford, looking to continue his development under the guidance of Paul Rowley and his coaching staff.

Upon confirmation of his move, Cust said: “I am really looking forward to meeting everyone involved at the club.

“To the fans, I am a competitor who loves the game and can’t wait to represent you all!”

Head Coach, Paul Rowley added: “We are really pleased to add Cade to our group.

“I have watched enough of him to confidently say there is a very talented rugby player who will thrive amongst this outstanding group of lads at Salford.

“After some good conversations with Cade, it is clear to me that his enthusiasm, determination, belief and good character are a great fit and addition to our group.

“Myself, Kurt and Krissy are delighted to commit to Cade and supporting him to be his absolute best!”

Director of Rugby and Operations, Ian Blease also said: “It is great news to bring a player of Cade’s calibre to Salford Red Devils.

“He is a player full of potential and we believe this is the perfect environment for him to progress and show our supporters what he is capable of.

“I want to welcome Cade and his family to the club – I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together!”

Everyone at Salford Red Devils would like to welcome Cade to the club and look forward to seeing him in action.

Join our latest addition and the rest of the squad in 2024 by purchasing your season ticket HERE!

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