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.

TEAM NEWS | LOGHAN LEWIS AND HARVEY WILSON SET FOR FIRST-TEAM DEBUTS

Head Coach, Paul Rowley has named his starting thirteen for this evening’s game.

Salford Red Devils have travelled to face Warrington Wolves, who have enjoyed a fantastic first half of 2024, despite losing the Challenge Cup final last Saturday.

The only change to the starting team is at hooker, where Joe Mellor replaces Joe Shorrocks, who drops to the interchange bench.

There’s debuts on the cards for two new signings, Loghan Lewis and Harvey Wilson.

The former arrived in England last Wednesday and has enjoyed his first week of training, whilst Wilson impressed with his try-scoring performance in the Reserves set-up last Friday.

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

RESERVES GET RED DEVILS OFF TO A WINNING START

Salford 24  London 18                              Match Report

Salford Reserves got the club’s weekend of rugby off to a winning start, twice having to overturn leads of 12 and 6 points, against the visiting London Broncos, whilst also registering the first of a trio of victories, which were to mark what, for their Super League counterparts, was Round 13 of their season.

The intensity of the opening exchanges might very well have brought significant doubts to all those watching from the sidelines, with the size, might, and power of the Broncos’ pack gaining territory comprehensively, whilst the valiant efforts of their hosts were rather more restricted.

It was, therefore, no surprise when, in the eleventh minute, good progress down their right wing, followed by some extremely optimistic and daring offloads and passes, everyone of which stuck with its target recipient, brought the visitors their opening, converted try.

Things were beginning to look quite ominous for the Red Devils, eight minutes later, when a period of London pressure wore down the defence and enabled them to double their score.

With a number of absentees through injury, the Reds had been forced to look further afield to complete their squad for the match, and consequently former Red Devils, Joe Coop-Franklin and Jack Stevens, had been brought in on loan from Rochdale and Swinton, respectively.

This proved to be extremely fortuitous because both revelled in their return to their first home, and their contributions were most influential to the team and the outcome of the game, with left winger Coop-Franklin taking advantage of the visitors’ error from the restart after their second try and the subsequent possession gained, to zig-zag his way through their defence and score under the posts.  Kai Morgan’s easy conversion then halved the deficit to 6-12.

Not to be outdone, scrum half, Stevens, on 33 mins, set off on a similarly weaving run midfield, and, on straightening up, found fellow halfback, Morgan, alongside him to finish off the try.  His kick from in front of the posts drew the home side level for a 12-12 halftime scoreline.

Upon the restart the visitors immediately stepped up their intensity, once more, forcing a goal-line drop-out, from which they were able to restore their lead via a converted try, on 43 mins.

It was a mere four minutes, however, before Salford had eradicated this with possession in the visitors’ twenty-metre area providing Stevens with the opportunity to pick out second rower, Henry Davies, who promptly charged over, and Morgan slotting over the equalising goal.

Morgan’s kicking game reached its pinnacle, on 58 mins, when he put in a pinpoint end-of-set kick to right winger, Dan Harrison, who climbed above all contenders to put the Reds ahead for the first time, by four points.

What had become the tightest of arm-wrestles was eventually broken, three minutes from time, with a penalty goal from Morgan, but the game was far from over with the short restart being taken by the Broncos to set up a determined all-out attack on the Salford line.  The Red Devils stood firm, however, with debutant half-back, Sean Murray pulling off a Goliath act by not only stopping a rampaging London forward in full flight but hitting him so hard that the ball was spilled, and their last opportunity lost.

Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, was understandably most delighted with his charges and the way in which they overcame all the odds to claim the victory.

“The most pleasing thing about the game was the attitude of the players in twice overcoming deficits to earn the win.  Not only that, they also were astute enough to realise that they needed to change their own game, which clearly had not been working, and find another way to get the win.  They also had to find considerable resilience in their defence, throughout, to keep London from scoring, on many occasions.”

The performances, on their debut, of two academy players, Murray and James Shields, also brought him some great satisfaction, as did the debut of recent signing, Harvey Wilson.

“It was really quite a sticky game for them to make their debuts in but they all took their chance really well.  Jimmy Shields showed some really good signs and will remain in the squad now for the rest of the season, whilst Sean Murray won the game for us with that outstanding tackle, at the end.

“Harvey Wilson was undoubtedly the best of our middles.  He made some excellent tackles and backed that up with really hard tackles in defence.”

SALFORD

Ethan Fitzgerald, Scott Egan, Joshua Wagstaffe, Joseph Coop-Franklin, Kai Morgan, Jack Stevens, Jordan Brown, Finley Yates, Liam Cooper, Henry Davies, Charlie McCurry, Harvey Wilson

Interchanges

Sean Murray, James Shields, Alex Davidson, Daniel Harrison

18th Player: Leunbou Bardyel Wells

WILSON: “I JUST WANT TO TEST MYSELF IN A FIRST-TEAM ENVIRONMENT”

New signing, Harvey Wilson is excited to test his abilities in a first-team environment.

The youngster has become the latest addition to Paul Rowley’s squad and will bolster our forward pack for the next two years.

After progressing through the ranks with Wigan Warriors’ Scholarship programme, the 20-year-old has enjoyed loan spells at various Championship clubs and will now make the step-up to a professional environment for the first time.

Speaking exclusively to our YouTube channel, Wilson said: “I’m excited to be here. I’ve been around a first-team environment before, but it’s a bit of a new thing for me.

“The players, coaches and everyone have been really welcoming – I’ve had a good first day, good session.”

Moving on to describe what skillset he can bring to the team, the forward continued: “I think I’m a bit of a smaller middle, so I’ve got a bit of pace, a bit of ball-handling.

“I like to think I’m a bit strong too, but I’d like to see about that at first-team level.”

“I think I’m just starting to come into my own a little bit. From Academy/Reserves, up to Championship, it’s a big step – bigger bodies.

“But I think I’ve done well in Champ and I just want to test myself in a first-team environment against some other first-team players.”

Wilson has already been hard at work in training, linking-up on Monday morning as the team prepare for the visit of world champions, Wigan Warriors this Sunday.

“All the time. I think it’s important, however old you are – even if I was a bit older – if there’s people that are more experienced or people that are younger that have a good skillset, ” he stated when asked whether he’ll be leaning on the advice of some of the senior figures in the team.

“But it’s just about asking questions, I’ll be asking questions all the time, getting as much as I can.

“They’ve already been great. Like today I’ve had a lot of people saying a lot of things; what they can tip me up with with.”

To see our full, first interview with Harvey, click below.

HARVEY WILSON SIGNS FOR SALFORD RED DEVILS

We are delighted to reveal the signing of Harvey Wilson from Wigan Warriors.

The 20-year-old has joined the club immediately for the remainder of 2024 and will also be part of Paul Rowley’s playing squad for 2025.

Wilson is a young forward who started his career at Clock Face Miners, Orrell St James and Siddal, before signing for Wigan in 2020.

Since his move into the Warriors Scholarship programme, Wilson has enjoyed loan spells at Oldham Roughyeds, Widnes Vikings and most recently, Bradford Bulls.

The youngster has already linked-up with his new teammates for training and will continue his exciting development under our coaching staff.

In reaction to joining Salford Red Devils, Wilson has said: “I am really looking forward to joining Salford.

“I can’t wait to get into it and take any opportunity I can to help the club. I am looking forward to playing with the lads and in front of the fans!”

Head Coach, Paul Rowley has added: “I am pleased to welcome Harvey to the club. He’s a very determined young player who will be a great addition to our group.”

Director of Rugby & Operations, Ian Blease has also said: “I would like to welcome Harvey and his family to Salford Red Devils.

“Harvey will now get the opportunity to position himself within our team and bolster our forward pack for the remainder of this season, and next.

“Harvey comes in off his growing reputation within the game, and I am really excited to see how he grabs this opportunity.

“Finally, I would like to say thank you Kris Radlinski and the Wigan club for allowing Harvey to take up this position at the Red Devils!”

Everyone at Salford would like to welcome Harvey to the club and look forward to seeing his progression over the next 18 months.

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