CHRIS HANKINSON’S LAST MINUTE WINNER WINS JUNE TRY OF THE MONTH

Chris Hankinson’s winning try against St Helens in Round 15 has been voted June’s Try of the Month.

With pressure building in the final moments of the game, a neat team try, which involved Marc Sneyd, Chris Atkin, Kallum Watkins, Nene Macdonald, and Ethan Ryan, all set the platform for Hankinson to go over.

Each player ran the correct lines and drew their defender perfectly, opening up the opportunity for our stand-in fullback to score his second in a Salford shirt.

Hankinson’s try will go down in history as it confirmed a first league double over St Helens in over 44 years.

Across the month, Hankinson has stepped-up and proved his talent with Ryan Brierley missing two games, and has produced some stellar performances.

Relive the try in all its glory below:

JUNE TRY OF THE MONTH NOMINEES REVEALED

It’s time to vote for your June Try of the Month.

The Red Devils won all three of their Betfred Super League fixtures across the month; including two memorable victories against Warrington Wolves and St Helens.

Sitting in fifth, just four points off league leaders, Wigan Warriors, Paul Rowley’s side will be looking to maintain their spot in the top six come September.

Here our your June Try of the Month contenders:

NENE MACDONALD vs Warrington Wolves (Round 14)

MARC SNEYD vs Warrington Wolves (Round 14)

DEON CROSS vs Warrington Wolves (Round 14)

CHRIS HANKINSON vs St Helens (Round 15)

Remind yourselves of the efforts below and place you vote on the poll!

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2024 JUNE TRY OF THE MONTH!

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RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V ST HELENS

A truly magnificent performance, saw the Salford Red Devils follow up their away win at the Totally Wicked Stadium, in early March, with yesterday’s home victory to complete their first double over St Helens since the 1979/80 season, forty-four years ago.

Not only that, they also made it two doubles in a row, and against teams higher in the league than they, themselves, following up the previous week’s away defeat of Warrington.  We had said this one would be tough, and it most certainly was with the Red Devils thrice having to come back from 6-0, 12-10, and 18-14 deficits.

We also said that a repeat of their performance in the victory over the Wolves, if they could manage it, might be sufficient to bring them the rewards, and, wow, did they manage to do just that, with the match-winning, try-of-the-game coming seven minutes from the final whistle, and their managing the remaining time superbly, keeping the Saints pinned down in their own half, for the majority of it.

Falling behind to Bell’s fifth minute converted try seemed to cause them little concern as they continued thereafter to repel the visitors’ early pressure, but it was not until twelfth minutes that they got within sight of the Saints’ line, forcing a goal-line drop-out as some reward.

They had to wait until a penalty, on 17mins, for a high tackle, gave them their best starting field-position, with Shane Wright reversing the initial direction of play and finding Deon Cross, unmarked, to go in at the corner.

Marc Sneyd’s failed attempt at obtaining a try by kicking the ball to his unmarked half-back colleague, Chris Atkin, did at least show the extent to which their partnership has developed, and indeed that was shown to greater effect in the way the pair linked to help set up the final try, with Sneyd’s pass enabling Atkin then to send out, what was assessed by some, as the most crucial pass in the line of the seven pairs of hands, involved in the move.

For Sneyd, though, the over-ruling of his ploy seemed to affect his next couple of attempts at goal, with his most unusually missing both, and then everything relying on his final conversion attempt to secure the win.  His overall performance though was as effective as ever, as he organised and directed play around the field.

Salford’s wingers continued to impress with the next score seeing Deon Cross repeat not only his brace from the previous week but also the winning try itself from Sneyd’s pinpoint kick to the corner.  Indeed, Cross was later voted our sponsor’s Man of the Match, for his stirring all-round performance on both attack and defence, alongside skipper, Kallum Watkins who received the same acknowledgement from Sky TV.

For his part Ethan Ryan was also impressive with his most significant contribution coming with his thirty metre run down his right flank, before passing inside to Chris Hankinson to complete the move with his touchdown for the day’s final score.

Once again, Hankinson’s contribution was well in excess of what might reasonably be expected of someone with limited experience in the role, and it was most fitting that he should be rewarded for it with the final try.

For fans of both sides, the second half was something akin to a ride on the big dipper, with hopes soaring and sinking in equal amounts over the forty, none so quickly changing as when Nene Macdonald’s try was overturned by the referee, as a result of two infringements – one from each side – and Salford being awarded the put-in at the ensuing scrum for St Helens’s initial knock-on.

For three matches now, Macdonald has been used as the ‘go to’ target for some of Sneyd’s high end-of-set, attacking kicks, and for the first time this brought success, with his palm backwards of the ball, where Watkins, having vied with Hankinson to collect it, claimed the score.

While Saints probably had slightly the better of the exchanges, in the second forty, with their scoring three tries to two, it was the four point advantage at half-time, as a result of Salford’s two tries to one in the first half, which stood them in such good stead to be able to go on and collect the two league points.

As for the rest of the side, they all covered themselves with glory for their sterling efforts throughout.  Joe Mellor’s scoots at the play-the-ball, for example, have now begun to cause so many problems in opposition defences that they have become a significant nuisance value to the side.

And when they were not engaged in wave after wave of attack, such as the ten-minute period at the start of the second half, they were all a part of the tremendous defensive wall they put up, which so successfully limited the Saints’ scoring machine to less points than they needed even to draw.

So, with an international giving the rest of Super League a blank weekend this week, the lads will have a most deserved rest, but when they return, it will be to a significantly different challenge of getting themselves fully motivate for seeing off one of the lower sides in the league, Hull, who, themselves, have made noticeable strides in recent weeks.  A large vociferous crowd would be a welcome addition to their motivation.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: WARRINGTON V SALFORD

With a first half performance that must have been their best forty minutes of the season so far, the Salford Red Devils put the Warrington Wolves to the sword, to complete their second double of the season, at the Halliwell-Jones, last Friday evening.

Yet, it had been expected by many that it would be Warrington who would have had so much to prove, following their Wembley defeat, that the Red Devils might well have had to contend with a considerable backlash, and indeed there was sufficient evidence, in periods, to show that the Wolves’ determination to do this had been there from the outset.  It just happened to be stymied by the visitors’ ability to conjure up the most thrilling of tries, out of nothing.

The first five sets saw the home side exerting their physical prowess having started the game on their own line, but then ending each set further and further into Salford territory, so much so that the fifth – Warrington’s third – ended with fullback, Chris Hankinson, catching the kick, virtually on his own line, and having to contend with the charging maraud of players intent on forcing a goal-line drop-out.

Secure in the knowledge that there was support at his side, he, most daringly, released the ball backwards over his own line, which was to change the course of the whole game, from thereon.  In fact, Hankinson himself, went on to have a most impressive game throughout, returning kicks into the very faces of the opposition, linking up with play, and making two outstanding try-saving tackles.

Salford, with the possession he had provided, in three tackles then went the length of the field to take the lead.  Sam Stone ran at a gap between two players, thereby drawing them both in and then slipping the ball in the tackle to Nene Macdonald, who successfully turned fullback, Matt Dufty, inside out, before crossing between the posts.

The inspiration this brought was more than evident seven minutes later when their line speed, at one play-the-ball, pushed the Wolves further and further back with each pass so that a rushed final one found the unintended mark of Tim Lafai, who came close to doubling the scoreline.  Instead, it was the reliable boot of Marc Sneyd, who increased Warrington’s woes, with a penalty.

If the Wolves’ confidence were beginning to creak a little by this time, it was surely cracked wide open, in the very next set, when slick hands combined to put Deon Cross down the left wing, and he also added to the Wolves’ fullback’s woes by selling a most outrageous of dummies to leave him flat on the ground, for Salford’s second try.

Kallum Watkins’s recovery of possession from a Warrington touch-in-flight saw him show the utmost composure to slip the ball out from a tackle to Ethan Ryan, whose own performance was as eye-catching as any, with his constant carries to the opposition, runs along the wing, and later in the game, his reliability in sweeping up the ball from kicks into his corner which he returned with interest.

On this occasion, he proved to be the link which put Sneyd away, to ground their third try, under the posts.  With the conversion and a last minute drop-goal, the Red Devils were in quite a commanding lead, as much due to their overall performance as to the 0-19 scoreline, at half time.

It would have been quite incredible had they managed to carry this on into the second half, but with Warrington gaining and maintaining much greater possession, it was the Reds’ defence which was to be their greatest asset.

 As many as five Warrington sets-of-six over a four-minute period at the start of the half, were soaked up and eventually brought to an end by Lafai’s interception, and even when the Wolves went over for their first try, thanks to Cross’s valiant effort to prevent it, it then took the video referee eight minutes to come to a decision, which was based solely on the call of the referee.

It was a handling error and not their defence, three minutes later, that gave Ashton a clear run to the line to put the Wolves, temporarily back into the game, but it was a moment of pure magic, from Man of the Match, Sneyd, to send a guided missile from his boot into the hands of Cross.

Much has been said, with considerable justification, about the strike power of Salford’s centres, but there is now a growing respect for the accomplishments of their two wingers.  Cross’s skill in taking that ball so cleanly as he was diving over the line was quite incredible.

Not to be forgotten, however, great praise should be heaped on the Salford forwards who shirked absolutely nothing against a much bigger and stronger pack, undertaking all the ‘in-between’ hard work that forwards have to do.  It was also good to welcome Loghan Lewis and Harvey Wilson on their debuts.  Lewis certainly added some considerable go-forward to the team, on his introduction, while Wilson can only be admired for his willingness to mix-it with individuals of far greater size than he.

If next weekend’s fixture is to produce another double, it will have to be over St Helens, our next opponents, and that is going to be a considerable ask of them, when you consider how few and far between victories over the Saints have been, even at home, over the decades.  Another performance along these lines, however, would certainly put the possibility of such very much into the frame.

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. 

GALLERY: HANKINSON BACK WHERE IT STARTED!

View the best images as Chris Hankinson completed a transfer to Salford Red Devils.

As 2024 ticks closer and closer, Paul Rowley has made a new addition to his squad – and it’s a face he knows very well.

Hankinson is a classy centre, who has a lot of power to storm past the line, but also possesses plenty of skill with ball in hand to create an opportunity out of nothing.

He made 18 appearances and scored eight tries last season with Championship League Leaders shield-winning Featherstone Rovers, but will now be making the step back up to the Betfred Super League after a year away.

As ever, club photographer, Steve McCormick was in attendance to capture what he got up to on signing day:


A FAMILIAR FACE

First on Chris’ media duties was a signing interview – check it out on YouTube here.


SAYING HELLO!

Chris filmed his first message to supporters after his move to Salford Red Devils was confirmed.


S-A-L-F-O-R-D

All smiles for our new man, who is excited to make a difference in Paul Rowley’s side.


ON FAMILIAR TERRITORY

Chris played in the first-ever fixture at the Salford Stadium.


IMPRESSED!

Taking on a new TikTok filter, Chris was quietly impressed with his skills!


ALL OF THE LIGHTS

A back-rower in previous years, it was our Head Coach who transitioned Hankinson into a centre.


HANKINSON: “I’M PLAYING MY BEST RUGBY!”

Chris Hankinson thinks he is playing the ‘best rugby’ of his career at this moment in time.

Signing a two-year deal, the 30-year-old has already joined his new teammates for pre-season training, becoming our seventh addition of the off-season.

Hankinson is now a natural centre after his transition from the back-row, making 18 appearances for Featherstone Rovers during 2023, scoring eight tries.

“I like to be known as a bit off-the-cuff,” Hankinson told our YouTube channel during his first interview.

“I take pride in my defence. I think over the last few years, I have really matured as a player and now I’m playing my best rugby, so I like to be putting points in, assisting where I can – but more or less just helping the team.”

After spending time in our youth set-up in the early 2010’s, Hankinson has gone-on to enjoy a long career in professional rugby league, including a spell at his hometown club, Wigan Warriors.

He says it was a time that matured him as player.

“That’s it for me. Moving to a club like Wigan when I did was huge for me, for developing into the player I am now,” he continued.

“It really raised the standards of what I uphold with training, with everything in life now.

“I know I’ve really matured into the person I want to be, but I know there’s still a lot I can give and a lot Rowls can get out of me as well.”

Ever since Paul Rowley became Head Coach, supporters have enjoyed an expansive, excited brand of rugby.

It’s a style of play Hankinson is very excited to be a part of, but also one he has kept a keen eye on at other clubs in recent years.

“To be fair, even at previous clubs, I’ve said: ‘I wish we’d do this’ – seeing how Salford do it,” the centre said.

“They way they play, they can be dangerous from anywhere on the park and I know that’s a big part of Rowls’ DNA, and it was the same a Leigh a number of years ago – it’s always been attractive to me.”

To see our full chat with Chris, click HERE to head to our YouTube channel.

HANKINSON: “A BIT OF UNFINISHED BUSINESS!”

Chris Hankinson believes there is a bit of ‘unfinished business’ between himself and Salford Red Devils.

The centre has joined the club where he progressed through the ranks at youth level, before enjoying nearly a decade at various sides across the north of England.

His most recent appearances in the Betfred Super League were for Toulouse Olympique in 2022 where, despite relegation, he was certainly a standout performer.

“It’s a great feeling,” Hankinson told our YouTube channel in his first interview back at the club.

“It has kind of been a full circle, for me. It’s been just short of ten years since I left and now I’m back, but it feels right, a bit of unfinished business.”

One major influence in his decision to join the Red Devils was our Head Coach, someone Hankinson shares a close relationship with.

He has revealed how Rowley was pivotal in his transition from a back-rower to a centre, and says a reuniting with him was on the cards for a while.

“I’ve had a good relationship with Rowls over the past few years and he was the guy who actually made me transition from the second-row, into a centre,” Hankinson continued.

“It has been coming for a few years now and it never really materialised into anything until probably the last 48/72 hours where it became a real possibility.”

It’s not just Rowley who our new addition shares a close bond with. He has shared a dressing room with a lot of our current sqaud; including Marc Sneyd during his spell in the youth set-up.

He said: “I’m still quite close friends with a couple of the boys here.

“I speak to them regularly and I asked – I don’t think they knew why – how’s the environment, how’s the atmosphere and how are they enjoying it – and they’ve only had good things to say.”

To hear our chat with Chris in full, click HERE to head to our YouTube channel.

CHRIS HANKINSON SIGNS FOR SALFORD RED DEVILS

We are delighted to reveal the singing of Chris Hankinson on a two-year deal.

The centre becomes the seventh addition of the off-season, following Nene Macdonald, Ethan Ryan, Cade Cust, Joe Shorrocks, Matty Foster, and Kai Morgan, through the door.

Hankinson actually began his rugby league journey at Salford, progressing through the junior ranks before kick-starting his professional career at the then-Leigh Centurions.

He has since enjoyed spells at Barrow Raiders, Swinton Lions, London Broncos, Toulouse Olympique, Featherstone Rovers and his hometown club, Wigan Warriors.

The 30-year-old has already joined up with his new teammates for pre-season training and will look to hit the ground running in 2024.

In reaction to signing for the club, Hankinson has said: “I am really happy to be joining Salford.

“It is a club that I hold close to me, as it’s where it all started. I can’t wait to get going and run out with the lads in front of the fans!”

Head Coach, Paul Rowley has also said: “The group and I are delighted to welcome Chris to Salford.

“He is a very accomplished player who, in my opinion, epitomises dedication and perseverance to being the best he can be.

“Chris is the type of player we want in our environment; versatile, a great character and the ultimate professional.”

Director of Rugby and Operations, Ian Blease, has added: “I am delighted to finally bring Chris into our club.

“He is a player our Head Coach has wanted to bring to the club for some time now, and someone Paul knows well.

“I believe Chris has made a great decision to join us and I cannot wait to see a very talented player challenging for the Red Devils shirt, and for Chris to perform to his best ability in our backline.”

Everyone at Salford Red Devils would like to welcome Chris to the club and look forward to seeing him run out in a red shirt.

Join our new man at the Salford Stadium by buying your 2024 season ticket HERE!

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