CONNELL JOINS WHITEHAVEN ON LOAN

We can confirm Nathan Connell has joined Whitehaven Rugby League on a two-week loan.

The versatile full-back has impressed during his time in the Reserves and recently made the step-up to Paul Rowley’s first-grade squad.

He was handed squad number 25 and has spent a large period of time around the professional environment during training, and on a match day.

He will now link-up with Whitehaven for the next fortnight and gain some valuable minutes in the Betfred Championship.

Haven have started the season with an impressive 18-16 victory over Swinton Lions and will be looking to build on that when they face Barrow Raiders on Friday night.

Everyone at the club wishes Nathan the best of luck on his loan move.

RESERVES FAIL TO BUILD ON DREAM START

Salford Red Devils 8  Leigh Leopards 18                      Match Report

They could not have made a better start to their home local derby encounter with the Leigh Leopards, just one week after the visitors’ outstanding home victory over the Leeds Rhinos, and for half an hour it looked as though the Red Devils Reserve side was going to take the spoils having been by far the better side to that point.

These, however, are early days in their development as a team, following its hefty restructuring over the close season, with a total of twenty new players, hastily but most shrewdly selected, having had to be brought in to replace that same number from last season, who had left for first team rugby at other clubs.

The quality of the recruits, however, was more than evident in their incredible opening fifteen minutes, in which they scored two fine tries and looked set to rattle up a few more.  Built on some tremendous carries through the Leopards’ defence by forwards of quite notable size, almost the whole of this opening period was spent in the visitors’ thirty metre area.

Following a fine first set, in which progress up field was substantial, the end-of-set kick and chase pinned Leigh down in their twenty, and the intensity and robustness of the Reds’ defence forced a handling error, from which hooker, Reece Bushell, opened the home account with an unconverted try towards the left edge.

The Salford forwards, with additional help from centre, Josh Wagstaffe, continued to put the Leopards’ defence to the sword, skittling would-be tacklers out of the way and putting their defensive line at sixes and sevens. 

One tremendous hit-up by captain, Jordan Brown – easily the best player on the field throughout the game – on twelve minutes, put the Red Devils within metres of the try line, and courtesy of a repeat set from a penalty the ball was moved from left to right and the sweetest of cut-out passes from fullback, Nathan Connell, to Dan Harrison, put the right winger in at the corner.

It just needed them to continue in similar vein and add to their eight-point tally, but, whether feeling that points were going to continue presenting themselves or just that they had not yet learned, as a team, how to manage such a situation, they found themselves being first thwarted, and then repulsed, by a Leigh defence gradually gaining some composure after their torrid start.

On the back of that, the confidence in the visitors’ ranks started to build, and their handling became much more assured, bringing them their first visit to the Salford line on 17 mins.  The Red Devils’ defence was, however, equal to the task, over two back-to-back sets, which, for the time being, kept their line intact.

Twelve minutes later, and benefitting this time from three set-restarts, a Leigh kick into their righthand corner brought them their first try, eroding their deficit to four points, before taking the lead on 32 mins with a try much nearer to the posts, giving them am 8-10 half time lead.

In almost similar fashion to the first half the Red Devils took the game to Leigh putting them under the same degree of pressure, which saw them benefit from set-restarts, three Leigh touches, and four penalties, but this time without the benefit of a score.

As so often happens, when a team has survived a lengthy period of time holding out in defence, they seize on their first opportunity to go to the other end and score, which is what happened on Salford’s loss of possession in front of the Leopard’s posts, to stretch their lead to 8-14.

Six minutes later, the game was put out of reach, with a further, concluding try, which in the wet conditions made a ten-point scoreline a far more comfortable one than would normally be the case.

Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, was quite philosophical about the outcome, however, realising that it was simply the point to which the players have come, as a team.

“We really could have done with a couple more pre-season friendlies to help us gel as a team, but there just wasn’t time to do so.  Consequently, we took our foot off the gas, when we were on top, and although we had lots of further opportunities to score throughout the game, we just were not ruthless enough.

“The power of our forwards was evident at the outset, but they did not retain it for long enough.  Having got that opening period of domination in this match, our task now is to extend it first from ten to twenty minutes, and then on to forty, sixty and the full eighty.”

SALFORD:

Nathan Connell, Dan Harrison, Ethan Fitzgerald, Josh Wagstaffe, Scott Egan, Kai Morgan, Jack Gatcliffe, Jordan Brown, Reece Bushell, Charlie Glover, Matty Foster, Andrew Dixon, Henry Davies

Substitutes:

Charlie, McCurrie, John Hutchings, Cole Appleby, Ben Tyrer

RESRVES QUELL THUNDER IN FINAL HOME GAME

Salford 32  Newcastle 10                               Match Report

A frantic opening onslaught by the Salford Red Devils, in which they outpaced the clock for points per minute by registering fourteen in the opening ten, laid the foundation for last Saturday’s convincing home victory over Newcastle Thunder.

It was at the end of the very first set of good approach work with strong carries and accurate passes, which had taken them to within ten metres of the visitors’ try line, that the ball was moved from right to left along the line, until scrum half, Jack Stevens, sent a fabulous long pass straight into the arms of winger, Billy Walkley who, with that little bit of extra space, went in at the corner.

After only a few tackles of the return set, again, telling passes put centre, Owen Blackwood through on a most impressive run, before further slick handling, this time to the right edge saw winger, Scott Egan, score the first of what was to end up as a hat-trick of tries.

Stevens, who had found the conversions from the two touchlines a little too far out to add on the extras, then took matters into his own hands, cutting through to score under the posts, on ten minutes.  There was no mistake this time with his straight-forward conversion sailing between the posts.  It was, however, to be pretty much his last contribution to the match, as a few minutes later he sustained an injury to his hamstring and had to retire to the dugout for the remainder of the time.

So torrid had the Newcastle side found the opening stanza that one feared that the afternoon might prove to be a no contest, but remarkably, there was to be no further score, for the remainder of the half.  Two contributory factors were responsible for this, with firstly the visitors’ introduction of rather more experienced players from the bench.

The Red Devils, in the meantime, did lose a little concentration and errors started to creep in and mar what had, hitherto, been a near perfect performance.   Two further clear-cut chances on the right edge were lost by inaccurate final passes, whilst penalties for a variety of reasons invited the Thunder into their half to test their defence.

The one aspect of their play on which they did not relax, however, was their end-of-set kick-chases, with hooker Kellan Wood producing some excellent punts down-field, eagerly raced after, and the clearing runs from the receivers halted in their tracks within moments.  This ability to turn defence into attack was probably one of the highlights of their play, and saved so much time, energy, and stress in goal-line defence.

When, eventually, the scoreline did change, seven minutes into the second half, somewhat surprisingly, it was Newcastle who took advantage of two repeat sets in the Reds’ half, to go over, close enough to the posts for a successful conversion, narrowing the score to 14-6.

Having been suddenly nudged out of the comfort of a three-score lead, the Red Devils roused themselves to regain field dominance, and Wood capped his most praiseworthy all-round performance, when he skipped over from a play-the-ball close to the line for a try converted by Matty Rudd, on 51 mins

 A tremendous crash tackle on a relieving Thunder defender, three minutes later, forced the ball free to give Scott Egan his second try, this time under the posts to take the score to 26-6, but there was still another try left in the visitors, who, on 62 mins, in circumstances not dissimilar to their first score, took themselves into double figures.

There was still time left, though, for Scott Egan to round off his, and the team’s tally, nine minutes from the end, after excellent handling by Nathan Connell and Billy Walkley, both of whom had impressed despite being significantly involved in the reshuffle surrounding Stevens’s departure.  Despite his having to take the goal kick from the touchline, Matty Rudd added the extras, whilst Scott Egan was unfortunately denied a fourth try, in the final minute, owing to a forward pass.

Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, was most pleased by what he considered his team’s most impressive and aggressive performance so far, with prop, Bardyel Wells, involved in an eyebrow-raising fifty two tackles during the game, and still having the energy to put in a significant number of bone crunching hit ups, whilst it was a welcome back from injury for fellow prop, Charlie Glover.

So, after this latest success, a trip to Huddersfield in a fortnight’s time will bring their regular season to its conclusion.

SALFORD

Nathan Connell, Scott Egan Owen Blackwood, Mikey Gilligan, Billy Walkley, Matty Rudd, Jack Stevens, Bardyel Wells, Kellen Wood, Charlie Glover, Jacob Lee, John Hutchings, Matty Unsworth

Substitutes

Lucas Iles, Finley Yates, Mason Phillips, Jorge Cabral

RED DEVILS SHAKE WARRIORS WITH OPENING BLITZ

Salford Reserves 12  Wigan Reserves 42 Match Report

First team rugby apart, Salford’s results of matches with the Wigan Warriors at virtually every other level, over decades, have been littered with defeats by considerable amounts, and on some occasions without the Reds even managing to get on the scoreboard.

Not on the occasion last Monday evening, when the two sides met once again, however, with the Red Devils stunning their visitors with a whirlwind of an opening which saw them cross twice in the first ten minutes, to open up an eight-point lead, which could have been even more but for Jack Stevens’s attempted conversion to the first, hitting the upright.

What was all the more remarkable was that the Salford team was the most inexperienced Reserve side to have taken the field, this season.  Most encouraging of all was the fact that eight of them had come through the Salford Pathway, having played in the age-related youth sides such as the Salford Red Devils College Academy U19s.

One name, which will possibly be remembered by those familiar with that particular group of players, is that of Nathan Connell, who, along with others, over recent seasons has caught the eye on a regular basis with some significant contributions to the side’s performances.  For him, though, this match turned out to be a personal triumph, with his being absolutely pivotal to that opening onslaught.

On the fourth tackle of the very first set, he slipped a cleverly timed pass to another of the Pathways group, George Charnock, which put the centre into the clear, and then backed him up all the way to take the return pass and score to the right of the posts giving the Red Devils one of their fastest opening tries of the season.

It was then on ten minutes that a Salford end-of-set kick to the left corner was fumbled backwards by Wigan, and again it was he, who was first to pounce and double their lead.

Unfortunately, we had to wait until midway through the second half for the Reds to increase their score further, but it was well worth the wait with its coming from some most impressive handling along the line from left to right, and each pass most telling.  The final, long pass, which we tend to associate solely with Super League rugby, was yet again from Connell with his floating the ball straight into the hands of right winger, Billy Walkley, who did well to cross in the corner, to wrap up the Salford account.

Yes, it was Wigan, who they were playing, and once they had got over their opening shock, they took control in the way that Wigan feeder teams always do, against almost anyone.  The final thirty points difference, though, was far lower than has often been the case in the past, and that is testament just as much to the Salford defence, as to their attack.

Sadly, one early, most valiant try-saving tackles, on five minutes, by left winger, Calum Hughes, led to a lengthy stoppage in play as, in so doing, he received a nasty-looking injury, which required hospital attention.

Most coincidentally, the second half was similarly disrupted on the fifth minute of that half, when the doctor was called to the Wigan dressing room to deal with one of their players, who had suffered an injury, late in the first half, and again a lengthy period had to elapse before the doctor was able to return pitch-side, and the game could resume.

Other players who can feel well-satisfied with their performances were prop, Lucas Iles, who stood up magnificently to the strength of the Wigan pack which included Ri’chards Nsemba, whose first team experience was quite evident, and Jack Stevens, whose lack of success with his kicks at goal was made up for with his more general kicking-game, which included a superb forty-twenty, towards the end of the game.

Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, was justifiably not only well pleased with his side’s performance throughout the whole game, but also highly impressed with the club’s handling of the two medical incidents, which caused such intrusion into the game’s continuity.

“I was most impressed with the way the club handled both incidents.  Our physios, doctor, and club officers all responded brilliantly, remaining calm, supportive and professional throughout, in a way that one would always hope for.  They all deserve the utmost praise for their handling of both situations,” was his judgement.

SALFORD

Nathan Connell, Billy Walkley, George Charnock, Calum Hughes, Matthew Rudd, Jack Stevens, Alex Davidson, Kellen Wood, Lucas Iles, Joseph Cooper-Franklin, Jacob Lee, Matthew Unsworth

Substitutes

Harry Files, Mason Phillips, Jorge Cabral, Finlay Yates, Euan Haynes

WIGAN

Noah Hodkinson, Ethan Fitzgerald, Nathan Lowe, Jeffrey Maddox, Charlie Yeomans, Jack Farrimond, Trent Kelly-Duffy, Thomas Forber, Kian McDermott, Finlay Irwin, Ri’chards Nsemba, Taylor Kerr

Substitutes

Dylan Kelly-Duffy, Ryan Brown, Harvey Wilson, Reece Bushell, Kalum Rathbone

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