CHRIS BATES LEAVES SALFORD RED DEVILS WOMEN

Salford Red Devils Women’s Head Coach, Chris Bates has left his position following the conclusion of our 2023 Betfred Women’s Super League 2 campaign.

Bates has been in charge of the team since 2022 and has overseen a huge period of growth in just two years.

In our inaugural season, the women’s side captured the Championship League Leaders’ Shield alongside the League Cup and earned promotion to Super League.

During 2023, the team beat Castleford Tigers and Bradford Bulls twice on their way to securing a fourth place finish – meaning playoff rugby league.

Despite losing out to Leigh Leopards in the semi-final, the performance of the girls in just their second season was hugely encouraging and leaves something to build-on going forward.

Reflecting on his time at the club, Bates has said: “It has been a really hard decision to step back from my role with the women’s team at Salford.

“I am really proud of the group and the work we’ve done to get to where we are now, but it’s clear that to push and reach the heights that the group are capable of, they need more time than I can give them currently with work commitments and a young family.

“I’d like to thank Matt, Dawn, Marce, Harry and Paul for all the help and support, I’ve absolutely loved my time at the club, and I can’t wait to see how they go next season!”

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Managing Director, Paul King has added: “Chris has been a fantastic servant to Salford Red Devils and leaves our club with the absolute best wishes.

“He has achieved so much in his time here; leading the women’s team to our first piece of silverware, topping the Championship, and earning promotion to Super League.

“It gave me great pride to see our girls compete at such a high level this season and I know they will continue to do the same going forward.

“With the current restructure of women’s rugby league, this gives a new Head Coach a clean slate to implement their own ideas and earn promotion back to Super League – which is ultimately our main goal.”

With 2024 just around the corner, the club are still actively looking for a new Head Coach and updates will be shared when appropriate.

RED DEVILS CAN TAKE EXPERIENCE FROM FRIENDLIES INTO SUPER LEAGUE

Having gained the coveted promotion they so much desired to Super League 2, the Red Devils will get their much deserved opportunity to open their season at this new elevated level, with a trip across the Pennines to Castleford, this coming Sunday.

Not that this will be the first time that they will be facing Super League opponents, having already had a taster of this in two pre-season friendlies, against Wigan Warriors and Leigh Leopards.  The more relevant of these, probably, was the more recent, against the Leopards, since Wigan, as might be expected, occupy a place in Super League 1, while Leigh will be one of the teams our players will be facing during the course of the season.

For a variety of reasons, one should never read too much into the outcomes of friendly games, as the context to these are, by definition, completely different to league encounters, with coaches keen to suss out new combinations and introduce new additions to the squad, while the players have the opportunity to try executing new moves.

It was, however, a totally different context altogether for the Red Devils when they took on the Leopards, with the playing squad considerably reduced to the basic seventeen, by a combination of work, personal, and family commitments to several players alongside a number of injuries, unlike their opponents who had reserves in abundance.

This, therefore, gave head coach, Chris Bates, the opportunity to blood many of his new signings, alongside the remainder of his squad from 2022.  Ideally, this would have taken place with just one or two at a time, taking the field just to get the feel of things, with the experienced players providing the stiffening needed to overcome the opposition.

On this occasion, the majority of them were playing alongside one another, throughout, which set them a much greater challenge than would normally be the case.  The situation was further compounded by the fact that each of the newcomers was also new to rugby league, with their playing either their first or second, only, game of rugby league.

 They did, nevertheless, individually, acquit themselves very well, and every one of them showed considerable promise with talent and skills that will undoubtedly become invaluable to the squad, as they integrate themselves into the side over the coming weeks.

Sam Evans, coming in at such a pivotal position as half back on her rugby league debut, grew confidently throughout the game into the role.  Sage Bannister, at fullback, had already shown her considerable defensive abilities in the match with Wigan, and she, once again, showed these, when, on 25 mins, she combined with loose forward, Brogan Evans, to pull off yet another try saving tackle when the visitors were only six points ahead.

For sheer commitment to the Salford cause, however, prop, Summer Harris  deserves accolades for having been prepared to occupy a berth on the wing, of all places, while substitute Emerald Hickey was called into action as early as the second minute, as a result of the temporary loss of Sarina Tamou injured in one of the first tackles of the game.

An unsurprising 4-26 reversal was therefore the final result, with Salford’s try coming from left winger, Lauren Ellison, after 52 minutes to narrow Leigh’s 0-10, half time, lead.  Indeed, having had time to take stock of the situation during the interval, the first fifteen-minute spell of the second half proved to be the Red Devils’ strongest period during which they dominated possession and were able to keep play in the visitors’ thirty metre area and launch several attacks on their line, leading up to their try.

Sheer fatigue, owing to the shortage of bodies on the bench to enable further interchanges, however, eventually caught up with the Salford players, and the comparatively fresh-legged Leopards were able to take control in the later stages to run in three further tries.

SALFORD

Sage Bannister, Lauren Ellison, Alex Simpson, Victoria Kini, Summer Harris, Louise Fellingham, Sam Evans, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Sarina Tamou, Helena Walker, Abi Collins, Brogan Evans

REPLACEMENTS

Darcey Price, Laura Bent, Hannah Wicks, Emerald Hickey, Katie Garry

RED DEVILS LIFT SILVERWARE IN INAUGURAL SEASON

RED DEVILS LIFT SILVERWARE IN INAUGURAL SEASON

Orrell St James’s 8  Salford Red Devils 20                                Match Report

Salford Red Devils ladies team defied all the odds that must have been stacked against their doing so, at the start of the season, by winning the League Cup, in this, their very first year, a mere eight months after their inception.

What an absolute triumph this is for a group who were still getting to know one another when the season kicked off, a mere five months ago, but in that time they have gelled together perfectly and developed into an almost unstoppable attacking force, seemingly against all opponents within their league.

How fitting it was, therefore, that their incredible accomplishment should have been achieved on the very day that the much-celebrated Lionesses put the whole concept of women’s sport into a far greater spotlight than it has ever been before.  They just happened to have been beaten to the punch by the Red Devils.

It was in a quite different manner, however, from virtually all their previous victories, to which the players had to adapt, in order to ensure they secured their just desserts.  Not on this occasion, then, was there to be any high-scoring, lavish, breath-taking attacking play; it was far too close for that, and closer even than the scoreline would suggest.  No, this was, foremost, a victory of character over adversity.

No-one can ever predict how a game will unfold, but just one look at the pitch was enough to portend that this would undoubtedly be a game of two halves, with an incline from end to end comparable with that at the infamous Mount Pleasant, Batley.

Having the advantage of the slope for the first half, the Salford players had the clear task of setting as high a score as possible in the hope of putting themselves out of sight by the turnaround – something which they had had plenty of practice of doing, over the course of the season.  To that end, the fact that it was they who kicked off down the slope, was extremely helpful, with the Orrell defenders losing the ball early in the first set, and consequently setting up the Reds with possession in great field position.

Indeed, the game was less than two minutes old when fullback, Luci McKeown, performed a timely pirouette, close to the line, to foil a couple of defenders to go over on the right-hand side, and that was even after Brogan Evans had been held up, under the posts.  As far as the goal kick was concerned, though, it mattered not that the kick was further out than it might have been, as Demi Jones was on target to turn the four into six.

Four minutes later, and with the Orrell team still having hardly touched the ball, a superb, wide pass by Taz Corcoran found the unmarked Alex Simpson, and the centre went through for the second score, this time too far out on the left for a successful conversion attempt.

Whether it was carelessness, or over-confidence, at this point, the ball was lost quite quickly after the resumption, and the opposition’s dearth of possession started to be balanced out, so it was not until the 23rd minute that the Red Devils were able to extend their lead.  Kayleigh Bradshaw was tackled virtually on the Orrell try-line, and her quick play the ball caught the defence out by the ball being moved to the blindside, where right centre, Sade Rihari, used her power and pace to get over for what was to be the final score of the half, extending their lead to sixteen points by Jones’s second conversion.

We have often said that a half time lead of eighteen points is quite overturnable, and there will have been many who had been hoping for rather more cushioning by further points, as the teams resumed for the second forty.  This, however, had been recognised by coach, Chris Bates, who had instilled upon is charges, that the fate of the trophy would now rest with the quality of their defence.

How right he was.  The Orrell St James players were completely familiar with the exigencies of their pitch, and how to use the slope to their advantage – only one of the adversities Salford were to face, and thankfully overcome, during the following forty, with the Reds pinned down in their own twenty metre area, for lengthy periods, desperately endeavouring to repulse the waves of attack hurled at them.

They had had a foretaste of this in the closing stages of the first half when they had been tirelessly, but unsuccessfully, tested by their opponents, who did, though, go close on a number of occasions.  Easy to do when your line speed is aided by a slope, but much more challenging to have to keep doing, up a hill.

Yet, with Bates’s instructions still ringing their ears, that is exactly what they did.  If it moved, it was tackled, and after an early foray with an attack of their own, they certainly had plenty of tackling to do.  Eight minutes of exceptional defence was eventually broken by Orrell’s first try, bringing the score to 16-4.

Fortunately, the Salford players still had enough energy left to launch a counter attack, and on 56 mins, Player of the Match, Riahari, cut through, drew the defence before sending out an excellently timed pass to her winger, Lauren Ellison, who crossed in the corner, restoring the 16 point advantage.

The remainder of the game was merely one set of Orrell attacks after another, as with so little ball, the Salford players appeared a little nervous on the few occasions it came their way, and consequently lost it, often, quite early in the tackle count.

So, ultimately, it was all down to the quality of the defence, thereafter, with Salford forwards as, always, having bearing the brunt of the work, as the Orrell forwards kept up constant drives at the Salford line.  Although they had their line breached on one further occasion, on 64 mins, and the final fifteen minutes  peppered with a few close shaves, time was gradually moving in favour of the Red Devils side, and indeed those sixteen points did prove to be unoverturnable.

So, the ladies got to bring back to Salford the first piece of silverware since they won the Championship Treble in 2008, and doing so in what was, for them, a most novel and unfamiliar manner.  Whole-hearted congratulations to them, and all those connected with the team, who have performed so marvellously, each in their own particular way.  Having won one trophy now, there is always the up-coming Championship Play Offs, in which to test themselves, later in the year.

SALFORD

Luci McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Sade Riahari, Alex Simpson, Katie Garry, Louise Fellingham, Demi Jones, Megan Condliffe, Tamzin Corcoran, Abi Collins, Helena Walker,  Kayleigh Bradshaw, Brogan Evans

Substitutes:

Hannah Wicks, Jena Monks, Darcey Price, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Laura Bent, Casey Naylor, Gabrielle Chaplin

ACKNOWLDGEMENT

Steve McCormick – Headline photograph showing quality of Salford’s defence from Helena Walker, Darcey Price, and Brogan Evans

Excitement builds in the Women’s camp ahead of first fixture

Tomorrow morning will see our Women’s team compete in their first ever game, facing off against Swinton Lionesses at the The Salford Stadium, and our girls are eager to get out on the field.

The Women’s team open up tomorrow’s double header at 11:45am and have been working hard in training to ensure they put in a solid performance.

Salford Red Devils Women’s head coach, Chris Bates said: “Pre-season has been really good, I’m amazed at how this team has turned out. The way the girls have come together and tackled challenges, developed as a team and really learnt to understand each other, is class really.

“The girls are really looking forward to Saturday. We don’t know much about Swinton as they didn’t play in a league last year, so we’ve mainly focused on our own game.

“This game’s a fantastic opportunity and all the girls are really excited.”

Salford Red Devils Women’s captain, Louise Fellingham, commented: “Training has been going really well, everyone has been working hard and improving week on week. Since we’ve come back in the new year, you can tell the intensity has ramped up a notch.

“The team are excited at the prospect of pulling on the Salford jersey for the first time and taking to the field in front of a home crowd. We can’t wait to play at the AJ Bell.

“Playing against the Lionesses will be a valuable challenge for us, but with the experience we have in the squad, we are confident that we can put on a good performance – which we can then build on going into the season.”

Join us at the The Salford Stadium tomorrow, to catch our Women’s team in action for the very first time! Grab your tickets HERE.

 

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