SALFORD RED DEVILS SET NEW CLUB RECORD FOR WORLD CUP REPRESENTATIVES

Salford Red Devils have set a new club record for World Cup representatives, with TEN players set to compete in the showpiece home tournament this autumn.

Andy Ackers, Marc Sneyd and Kallum Watkins will be donning the England shirt. Sneyd and Ackers will have the honour of making their Three Lions debuts, while Watkins continues to be a consistent figure in the team after his long-term injury.

Ryan Brierley – who has already made seven appearances for the Scottish National Team – has been rewarded for an excellent club season with a call-up to the Scotland squad. As has Sam Luckley, who recently joined Hull KR, but was an important part of Paul Rowley’s side last season.

Record appearance-maker Rhys Williams will continue to set the pace at international level with Wales, as the Dragon continues his regular spot in the Welsh squad.

Morgan Escaré made his France debut in 2013 and has since gone on to make 12 further appearances – scoring seven tries. He will get the opportunity to add to that this November, after making the 24-man squad ahead of their World Cup endeavours.

King Vuniyayawa has been a regular in Rowley’s forward pack this season and his excellent form has earned him a spot in Fiji’s squad.

Finally, Ken Sio and Tim Lafai – two members of the 2022 Dream Team – joined up with the Samoan squad ahead of their second Group Stage game against Greece.

After seeing the club record increase to ten, director of rugby and operations, Ian Blease said: “Seeing Ken and Tim join-up with the Samoan squad is a proud moment for the whole club. Both players were instrumental to our success in 2022 and totally deserve this recognition.

“I’m sure playing on the World Cup stage is something they’ve always dreamt about, so to see them have that opportunity will be a special occasion.

“Taking the Club record up even further to nine has just emphasised how much progress has been made on and off the field last season. It’s an incredible achievement for everyone involved and we wish everyone good luck in the rest of the tournament!”

Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com – 15/10/2022 – Rugby League – Rugby League World Cup – England v Samoa – St. James’ Park, Newcastle, England – Kallum Watkins of England breaks through to score against Samoa

The previous record – back in 2000 – saw Salford have seven representatives at the World Cup, with Paul Highton, Chris Morley, Kris Tassell, Mark Johnson, Martin Crompton, Paul Southern and Mike Wainwright all earning call-ups to their respective nations.

Salford did have eight players play in the 1975 World Championship Series – which is considered the Rugby League World Cup – however, the format of this tournament differed from the usual format. The matches were played over an eight-month period in five countries, no squads were announced and players were selected on a match-by-match basis.

Earlier this month, reacting to such an outstanding achievement, Head Coach Paul Rowley said: “To have a record number of internationals from our 2022 squad is a fantastic achievement and recognition for the tremendous efforts from the players this year.

“It’s a privilege and honour to be a part of the Salford 2022 team and to see the players rewarded with international recognition. To create a little piece of Salford history is something that the whole working group can be very proud of.”

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V CASTLEFORD

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V CASTLEFORD

Three months on, from the opening game of the season, in which Salford surprised many by coming away with a convincing 16-26 win, at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle, the Castleford Tigers arrived at the A J Bell, seeking to reverse the outcome of that initial encounter.  The strides which the Tigers had made in the intervening period, had moved them into the top six of Super League.

Salford, in comparison, had left it somewhat later, until the last three fixtures, in fact, before making inroads into their rather unflattering league status at that time, but those three markedly improved performances had been more eye-catching, coming against the three biggest names in rugby league, Wigan, St Helens, and Leeds, the last of which brought them their first win in their last seven matches.

The 30-16 result of last Friday’s return fixture with Cas was of very little difference from that of Round 1, showing that the Red Devils appear to have maintained their lead in the standard of their performances from the first to this latest encounter.

Not that that was evident, on field, during the opening period of either half, with the visitors being the first to settle and open their account, in both.  The first half saw them going four points ahead, after a mere three minutes, while post interval, it took them only five minutes longer than that to register a try.

As any good coach will espouse, however, it does not matter how you start, it is how you finish that matters most, and that certainly proved to be the case, on Friday, as the Reds gradually took control of the game in the first forty, while then turning the second half into a quite enthralling, and most entertaining, contest

The visitors’ opening four pointer was eventually answered by the Red Devils in the seventeenth minute.  Taking advantage of a penalty which put them on the attack, Marc Sneyd  kicked into the in-goal area on the fourth tackle, and  Tim Lafae was the first to get there to ground the ball, which with Sneyd’s conversion put Salford into a lead they never surrendered, thereafter.

The rain, which had fallen steadily for four hours prior to kick-off, had made both the ball and the playing surface most slippery, so conditions were challenging for both sides, both of which were pleased to turn their opponents’ errors to their own advantage.

Playing the game in your opponents’ half was highly desirable and advantageous, something at which Salford proved to be rather the better, during the run up to the interval.  The pressure this put the Tigers under began to take its toll on them, and they began to look quite tired, in that last ten minutes.

Although rugby is predominantly a team game, there are occasions when the individual contribution of one player can have a quite profound effect on the game, and their team.  Joe Burgess was the individual, on this occasion who, as the first half moved closer to its end, completely stamped his authority on the match.

Not only did he latch onto the end of a right to left passing move, on thirty minutes, then wrong footing the defenders for Salford’s second try, six minutes later amid a posse of attacking Tigers, he climbed high to take the ball above his head from and end-of-set kick, and then, outnumbered by four to one he resisted their combined efforts to force  him into touch, thereby both acquiring, and retaining possession for his side.

As if to celebrate all of this, he closed the half with the second try of his eventual hat-trick, by exploiting space on his flank to round the opposition with his pace coupled with a swerve, which kept him completely in the clear, on his way to the line.

It took a full fifteen minutes of an arm-wrestle, at the onset of the second half, during which Castleford appeared to be gaining the ascendency and had narrowed the Reds’ lead to six points, before Sneyd turned the game in Salford’s favour.  Against Leeds it had been a drop-goal which had been so decisive; this time it was a 20-40, the repeat set from which he was to slot over a penalty goal, to restore a two-scores advantage.

That two-scores very quickly became three, after a tremendous break by Andy Ackers was continued by Morgan Escare, and although he was tackled in flight, his quick play-the-ball led to excellent passing along the line via Ackers again, Brodie Croft, and Kallum Watkins, to Deon Croft, who grounded for another Sneyd-converted try.

If the balance of the game had changed with surprising speed, it was about to change again, even more quickly, as the visitors caught their hosts out with a most unusual restart.  The kick went with some force along the ground before bouncing up over the Salford players’ heads , into touch.  Just as the Red Devils had used their unexpected possession from the 20-40 to good effect, so too, now did Castleford, by putting Quareqare in at the corner for his second try of the half.

Salford’s ten-point lead was still sufficient cushioning, however, to keep them comfortable enough to continue playing their fine expansive rugby, and they extended it further with Burgess completing his hat-trick from Lafae’s wonderful final pass.

It is really looking now as though Salford have turned the corner, and rediscovered their early season form, which had, it appeared, deserted them over the intervening month and a half.  Now a free weekend gives them some well-earned respite before an important away trip to take on Hull KR.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V CASTLEFORD

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V CASTLEFORD

Three months on, from the opening game of the season, in which Salford surprised many by coming away with a convincing 16-26 win, at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle, the Castleford Tigers arrived at the A J Bell, seeking to reverse the outcome of that initial encounter.  The strides which the Tigers had made in the intervening period, had moved them into the top six of Super League.

Salford, in comparison, had left it somewhat later, until the last three fixtures, in fact, before making inroads into their rather unflattering league status at that time, but those three markedly improved performances had been more eye-catching, coming against the three biggest names in rugby league, Wigan, St Helens, and Leeds, the last of which brought them their first win in their last seven matches.

The 30-16 result of last Friday’s return fixture with Cas was of very little difference from that of Round 1, showing that the Red Devils appear to have maintained their lead in the standard of their performances from the first to this latest encounter.

Not that that was evident, on field, during the opening period of either half, with the visitors being the first to settle and open their account, in both.  The first half saw them going four points ahead, after a mere three minutes, while post interval, it took them only five minutes longer than that to register a try.

As any good coach will espouse, however, it does not matter how you start, it is how you finish that matters most, and that certainly proved to be the case, on Friday, as the Reds gradually took control of the game in the first forty, while then turning the second half into a quite enthralling, and most entertaining, contest

The visitors’ opening four pointer was eventually answered by the Red Devils in the seventeenth minute.  Taking advantage of a penalty which put them on the attack, Marc Sneyd  kicked into the in-goal area on the fourth tackle, and  Tim Lafae was the first to get there to ground the ball, which with Sneyd’s conversion put Salford into a lead they never surrendered, thereafter.

The rain, which had fallen steadily for four hours prior to kick-off, had made both the ball and the playing surface most slippery, so conditions were challenging for both sides, both of which were pleased to turn their opponents’ errors to their own advantage.

Playing the game in your opponents’ half was highly desirable and advantageous, something at which Salford proved to be rather the better, during the run up to the interval.  The pressure this put the Tigers under began to take its toll on them, and they began to look quite tired, in that last ten minutes.

Although rugby is predominantly a team game, there are occasions when the individual contribution of one player can have a quite profound effect on the game, and their team.  Joe Burgess was the individual, on this occasion who, as the first half moved closer to its end, completely stamped his authority on the match.

Not only did he latch onto the end of a right to left passing move, on thirty minutes, then wrong footing the defenders for Salford’s second try, six minutes later amid a posse of attacking Tigers, he climbed high to take the ball above his head from and end-of-set kick, and then, outnumbered by four to one he resisted their combined efforts to force  him into touch, thereby both acquiring, and retaining possession for his side.

As if to celebrate all of this, he closed the half with the second try of his eventual hat-trick, by exploiting space on his flank to round the opposition with his pace coupled with a swerve, which kept him completely in the clear, on his way to the line.

It took a full fifteen minutes of an arm-wrestle, at the onset of the second half, during which Castleford appeared to be gaining the ascendency and had narrowed the Reds’ lead to six points, before Sneyd turned the game in Salford’s favour.  Against Leeds it had been a drop-goal which had been so decisive; this time it was a 20-40, the repeat set from which he was to slot over a penalty goal, to restore a two-scores advantage.

That two-scores very quickly became three, after a tremendous break by Andy Ackers was continued by Morgan Escare, and although he was tackled in flight, his quick play-the-ball led to excellent passing along the line via Ackers again, Brodie Croft, and Kallum Watkins, to Deon Croft, who grounded for another Sneyd-converted try.

If the balance of the game had changed with surprising speed, it was about to change again, even more quickly, as the visitors caught their hosts out with a most unusual restart.  The kick went with some force along the ground before bouncing up over the Salford players’ heads , into touch.  Just as the Red Devils had used their unexpected possession from the 20-40 to good effect, so too, now did Castleford, by putting Quareqare in at the corner for his second try of the half.

Salford’s ten-point lead was still sufficient cushioning, however, to keep them comfortable enough to continue playing their fine expansive rugby, and they extended it further with Burgess completing his hat-trick from Lafae’s wonderful final pass.

It is really looking now as though Salford have turned the corner, and rediscovered their early season form, which had, it appeared, deserted them over the intervening month and a half.  Now a free weekend gives them some well-earned respite before an important away trip to take on Hull KR.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH:  ST HELENS V SALFORD

Anyone who had felt that the Red Devils would not be able to follow up their vastly improved performance at Wigan with anything similar, only five days later, against the current Super League Champions, again on their own ground, must have had one almighty shock.  Not only did the Reds repeat their dominant performance of the previous week at the Totally Wicked Stadium, they improved on it even further.

Whereas at the DW, everyone had left feeling disappointed at our not managing to take the Warriors into Golden Point Extra Time, last night we were all disappointed that we had not won, for indeed, over the eighty minutes, Salford were the better team.

In fact, St Helens can consider themselves rather lucky to have come away with the points, and indeed there were many of their fair-minded supporters who readily acknowledged this.  They are renowned throughout the league for their uncompromising, physical, style of play, but, on this occasion, they came up against a team which was every bit as physical as they always are, if not the more so.

The first evidence Saints had that we were up against such a well-drilled, enterprising, and committed side, came as early as Josh Johnson’s first bone-crunching hit-up straight from the kick-off, followed in the third minute, when prop, Jack Ormondroyd, made a magnificent thirty metre break through the middle of the field.  Although that came to nothing in itself, with Brodie Croft eventually being held short of the line, the fact that Ormondroyd had torn through the defence with seeming ease, served to inspire the whole side even further.

It was, consequently, of no surprise, when, on a second foray into their hosts’ ten metre area, their slick handling carved out sufficient room for Morgan Escare’s cleverly angled running to get him over the line, and with Chris Atkin’s conversion from his only reasonably positioned goal-scoring opportunity, giving them a six-point lead.

Indeed, if you were looking for an aspect of the game in which Salford were particularly unfortunate, it was that their subsequent two attempts at goal, which included a penalty on half time and a second half conversion, were both considerable distances out.

The game changed, unfortunately, at the mid-point of the half, when carelessness in the timing of their defensive line speed, which throughout most of the game so troubled the home side, on this occasion brought Saints a penalty, at a time when they were being penned back on their line.   In one of their best sets of the match, they gained sufficiently good field position, and possession, to cross for an unconverted try.

Sadly, this proved to be not just one but two, back-to-back, scores, the second of which came most fortuitously for the Saints, from the ball ricocheting at the end-of-set kick, off Escare and into the arms of Welsby, barely a metre from the try line.

The only try of the second half came from Salford, as a result of their continued adherence to their game-plan, in which they had gone head-to-head with St Helens, set by set, giving every bit as good as they were given, in a trial of physicality.

On a couple of occasions Saints were even forced to end their sets with kicks still within their own thirty metre area, while time and again, back would come Salford, to pin them down in their own twenty.  It was from one such set that with the assistance of a set-restart, former Saint, Matt Costello, had the great pleasure of going over in the corner for an equalising try, against his former club

Even after going behind to the two penalty goals, the Red Devils were not finished.  An interception by Chris Atkin saw him race clear over seventy metres, only to be caught from behind less than ten metres from the try line.

The final minute of the half, following the sin-binning of Welsby for the professional foul of preventing a quick play-the-ball, saw St Helens having to resort to using the set-restart rule to their own defensive advantage, by which they limited the number of tackles they had to complete, in the final fifty seconds, to only three, simply by holding tackled players down for several seconds at a time, thereby preventing any properly organised assault on their line, and finally forcing one of very few Salford handling errors, to overcome the threat.

Without succeeding in winning, however, Salford players must have gained considerable confidence from their performance against such illustrious opponents.  The fact that the Saints were able to scrape home, thanks only to two kickable penalty goals in the last ten minutes, tells its own story.  All that is needed now is for this form to be taken into the next few fixtures, starting with our home game with Leeds in a fortnight’s time.

Marshall – “He’s a shining star for us”

Head coach Richard Marshall was delighted with a number of individual performances from his Red Devils side in last Saturday’s comfortable victory over Widnes Vikings in the Betfred Challenge Cup.

 The dominant 68-4 victory over Widnes booked the Red Devils a place in the Quarter-Finals of the Betfred Challenge Cup, in what was Marshall’s first runout in the competition as the Salford head coach. 

 The victory was highlighted by a Man of the Match performance from Jack Ormondroyd, and Morgan Escare and Matt Costello both picking up two tries each on their debuts for Salford.

 It was a particularly great afternoon for Ormondroyd, who repeatedly broke the Widnes line and looked a constant threat, capping his Man of the Match performance with a try of his own. 

https://twitter.com/SalfordDevils/status/1380922009379602434

 Speaking on Salford’s number 25, Marshall said: “He’s one of those unsung heroes within our team. He had a really good, solid game for us, he looked strong in contact, but his challenge would be to do that every week.

 “Hes probably on the periphery of the first team at our club. He’s not a young man anymore, if he wants to be Super League player, hes going to have to play week in, week out against the best team and packs in the country. 

“He’s been good over the past couple of weeks so he’s a shining star for us.”  

 Marshall was also full of praise for Escare and Costello.

 “They’ve obviously been knocking on the door the last couple of weeks,” Marshall added.

“Both new players to our club and both took their opportunities really, really well. I thought defensively, Matt had some reads when challenged and I thought Morgan was everywhere… he’s electric. They’ll gain a lot of confidence.” 

https://twitter.com/SalfordDevils/status/1381181479703568385

 Despite the blowout win, Marshall still acknowledged the effort put in from Widnes, in a contest that began quite evenly matched.

Marshall said: They had some quality in their troops. I thought their half backs had a good go and challenged us at times. But for our guys we scored some wonderful points.

“Albeit it was against a Championship side, but you’ve still got to score, make breaks, offload and from that point of view it was really encouraging.”  

Salford travel to Castleford Tigers in the Betfred Challenge Cup Quarter-Final, which will be contested over the first weekend of May.

Image credit: Steve McCormick

Written by: Callum Williams

Salford Red Devils 12-40 Wigan Warriors

Salford Red Devils were unable to open their Super League campaign with a victory as Wigan Warriors ran out deserved 40-12 winners at the The Salford Stadium on Friday evening.
Kris Welham and Niall Evalds crossed for The Red Devils, but the visitors were far superior in what was a clinical seven try display.
Oliver Gildart and Liam Marshall claimed a brace apiece while Tom Davies, Morgan Escare and Tony Clubb also crossed for the visitors.
However, it was The Red Devils who made the brighter start to the contest, it took just three minutes to open scoring as Gareth O’Brien’s grubber kick appeared to outwit the Warriors line, before Kris Welham picked up the loose ball and touched down under the posts, O’Brien successfully scored the resulting goal.
Wigan responded well and were rewarded for their efforts just eight minutes later as a superbly timed pass from Dan Sarginson resulted in Tom Davies going over in the corner, although Sam Tomkins’ conversion was unsuccessful.
The Warriors looked intent on making a real statement and they took the lead in the 16th minute when former Red Devils Oliver Gildart latched onto a low kick before sliding across the whitewash, Tomkins kicked his first goal of the contest.
Despite the margin, Salford responded well and were unfortunate not to have scored themselves when Gareth O’Brien broke clear, the move resulted in Greg Johnson eventually being found, however the winger was unable to capitalise on the opening and was subsequently pushed into touch by the Warriors’ defence.
This move appeared to rejuvenate The Devils, moments later they forced Wigan into their in-goal area after showing sheer resilience in defence throughout the set.
Unfortunately for the hosts, their good work was undone six minutes prior to the interval, Salford were temporarily reduced to 12 men as George Griffin’s tackle was adjudged to have been dangerous by referee Robert Hicks.
Wigan quickly picked up where they left off in the second period, three minutes into the half Liam Marshall broke down the wing before superbly executing a lofted kick over the back of the Salford backs, Morgan Escare scooped up the loose ball before crossing the whitewash relatively unchallenged.
Reds boss Ian Watson will be disappointed the start his side made to the half, a combination of lapses of concentration and individual errors prevented the hosts from building any real momentum when in attack as well as allowing Wigan to create numerous try-scoring opportunities.
The visitors continued to overhaul the Salford defence as they scored a remarkable four tries over an 11 minute period.
First, Sam Tomkins delivered a low kick, to which Liam Marshall latched onto before diving over, Tomkins added the extras to take the scoring up to 22-6.
Wigan demonstrated an excellent kicking game throughout and they extended their lead moments later when George Williams’ lofted kick deceived the entire Salford back-line and Marshall sprinted 30m to claim his second score of the contest.
Soon after, Marshall was heavily involved again, this time he turned provider as he timed his pass to his perfection and found the onrushing Gildart, who ran clear for the second occasion of the evening.
Remarkably, The Warriors weren’t finished there, Tony Clubb powered over in the 67th minute to inflict further misery on The Red Devils, Tomkins added the conversion to take the Warriors up to 40 points.
Salford’s determination was rewarded six minutes from time as Niall Evalds pulled off a fantastic finish in the corner to earn a much needed consolation try for, O’Brien again converted the extras to reduce the deficit to 28 points.
Salford Lineup: Evalds, Bibby, Welham, Sa’u, Johnson, Lui, O’Brien, Mossop, Wood, Tasi, Jones, Hauraki, McCarthy  Interchanges: Burgess, Griffin, Littlejohn, Kopczak
Wigan Lineup: S. Tomkins, Davies, Sarginson, Gildart, Marshall, Williams, Powell, Flower, Leuluai, Clubb, J. Tomkins, Farrell, Sutton  Interchanges: Escare, Isa, Tautai, Nuuausala
Salford Scorers: Tries- Welham (3’),  Evalds (74’)
Goals- O’Brien (4’, 75’)
Wigan Scorers:  Tries-  Davies (11’), Gildart (16’, 63’), Escare (43’), Marshall (56’, 61’), Clubb (67’)
Goals- Tomkins (17’, 44’, 57’, 62’, 64’, 67’)
Man of the Match: Gareth O’Brien
Referee: R. Hicks
Touch Judges: J. McMullen, G. Jones
Attendance: 5,568
By Ryan Booth

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