WILLIAMS AND GREENWOOD TO DEPART SALFORD RED DEVILS

We can confirm Rhys Williams and James Greenwood will depart Salford Red Devils upon expiry of their contracts.

Both have made significant contributions to the team – in some big moments – and will be remembered fondly by everyone associated with the club.

Williams in particular has been a classy operator since joining Salford from London Broncos ahead of the 2020 season.

The Welshmen helped the club reach their first Challenge Cup Final in 51 years and scored a fantastic, length of the field try in that very fixture against Leeds Rhinos.

An established international, Williams has gone on to score 22 tries and so often been a reliable, hard-working winger over his four seasons at the club.

Greenwood is another player who played a vital role in our run to the 2020 Challenge Cup final.

He started that game in the back-row and scored a try on 59-minutes that fired the Red Devils into a dream lead at Wembley Stadium.

Although his last few years at the club have been hampered by injuries, Greenwood has showed glimpses of the quality he posses and leaves with our absolute best wishes.

Head Coach, Paul Rowley has said: “On behalf of all of the lads, we thank them for their contributions to the group and their friendship during their time at Salford.

“We wish them the best of luck for the future!”

Director of Rugby & Operations, Ian Blease has added: “I would like to put on record and say a very much heartfelt thank you to both Rhys and James for their service, dedication and professionalism whilst they have both been with us at Salford Red Devils.

“Both players have served rugby league and Super League greatly; who can forget that they were both were try scorers in our 2020 Challenge Cup final appearance, with both giving everything on the pitch from the moment they joined the club.

“I send James & Rhys – and their respective families – our best wishes for the future; they will always be very welcome back to the Salford Stadium!”

The club remains in conversation with other players whose contracts are to expire this year. Further updates will be shared when appropriate.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: CASTLEFORD V SALFORD

Fresh from their somewhat unexpected victory over Leeds Rhinos, the Castleford Tigers must have felt quite confident at delivering a repeat performance and result, when they entertained our in-form Salford Red Devils in Friday night’s Round 15 fixture, especially after having run their visitors extremely close on their visit to the Salford Stadium back in mid-April.

Certainly, the opening stanza seemed to reflect that as the Tigers, having received the ball from the kick-off promptly acquired four back-to-back sets, from a penalty early in the first set, and then head and feed at a scrum following a Salford forward touch of the ball, and finally a second penalty, to take them the full length of the remarkably short Mend-a-Hose Jungle field to apply strong pressure on the Red Devils’ goal-line defence.

Indeed, when the Reds went in front, from Rhys Williams’s score under the posts, in the eleventh minute, having secured the ball from an end-of-set kick along his wing, it was very much against the run of play, underlined by Castleford’s cancelling out four of the points he had gained them in less than a minute of the restart.

From that point onwards, however, the Tigers were barely in the hunt, as the slick, fast, entertaining handling of the Salford players opened up the home side’s defence time and again, with comparative ease, to take as 4-24 points lead going up to the half-time mark.

Probably because of their dominance for, by far, the majority of the game, many might be surprised at their conceding as many as ten points, all of them in the first half, even though their defence, in general, was well in control for almost the whole match.

There were, however, some rather unusual circumstances around the tries which the Tigers did manage to score.  The first was the one mentioned above, which might well have levelled the points at 6-6, but for Widdop missing the conversion.

One moment Tim Lafai was in possession of the ball on a clearing run towards the forty-metre line, when he lost control of it, and the next it was in the hands of Castleford’s, Quarequare, who had a clear run to the Salford try-line. In fact, the Salford players scrambled extremely well to prevent him going round to the posts, thus limiting the damage by two points.

The second came as much because of the hooter than any great fault with the Red Devils’ goal-line defence, with their backs to the actual clock.  With two tackles still to go in the set, the sound of the hooter coincided with the ball being in the hands of Miller, whose quick thinking saw him put in an unexpected short, overhead kick for it to be collected by Edwards with yet another clear run to the line.

Far more representative of the Salford defence, however, was the fact that it stood unbreeched by any planned move Cas’s attack could muster.  On the only other time they managed to cross the line, in the later stages of the second half, they were held up by a swarm of willing defenders.

The Salford attack, as far as entertainment was concerned, was probably, alongside the sixty pointer at Hull, and the similar forty-two against Huddersfield in the Cup, among their best of the season, which is unsurprising given the ideal, dry conditions.

The tries when they came were all thrilling to watch as the Reds clinically ripped open the home defence, and their variations made for all the more enjoyment.  The one which possibly caught most people’s eye was their third, when Brodie Croft took the ball to the line before feeding Deon Cross, whose combination of speed, clever swerved running, and dummy was good enough to take him the forty-five metres to the line.

Two rather surprising absentees in their armoury, though, was the lack of any set moves from the scrums, from which they preferred to rely on Lafai’s strong runs into the Tiger’s defence.

Other than those, there seemed a little less physicality than usual which was more than likely because it was not needed.  The one which really stood out was Jack Ormondroyd’s thirty metre charge downfield, direct from a Cas goal-line drop-out, midway through the second half.

With a massively important Challenge Cup quarter-final at Hull KR, next week, on their minds, though, it may be that they had decided that discretion was the most appropriate strategy for then, and if they were to come back from there still in the draw for the semi-final, any shortfalls from this particular game would be long forgotten.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V HUDDERSFIELD CHALLENGE CUP TIE

The one thing about cup ties, as far as we supporters are concerned, is not to be distracted by such aspects of the game as performances and winning or losing margins.  In a cup tie the only thing that matters is winning, because winning determines your whole future as far as that competition is concerned.

So, as far as last Saturday evening’s sixth round Challenge Cup tie, against the Huddersfield Giants, is concerned, the important thing is that Salford’s name went forward into the bag for the draw for the quarter-final.  That they might, possibly even should, have won by a bigger score, in the greater scheme of things matters not at all.  Huddersfield would have given anything to have had that very two-point winning scoreline be in their favour.

As a form of entertainment, however, you would have had to travel a considerable distance to witness anything as admirable and riveting, with both sides committed to wide, expansive, fast-flowing, open rugby, and each of them having their quite lengthy periods of dominance, in which to put their skills on display, with the most favourable of playing conditions assisting with this.

The switches in momentum, however, seemed, at times, to come completely out of the blue.  How many Salford supporters, for example, when the Giants, after twenty-five minutes, for the fourth time, kicked off after, on this occasion, Rhys Williams’s converted try, sat back expecting to enjoy an avalanche of Reds’ tries for the remainder of the half, and probably beyond?

And the next change after that did not even come, as we had all hoped, upon the second-half resumption, with the visitors, in fact, continuing where they had left off, by crossing for their fourth try, in the 45th minute.  Indeed, it was twelve minutes into the half before the Red Devils restored their dominance, for what we had all then expected to be the remainder of the match.

Those two spells, when things appeared to be going so well for the Red Devils were most reminiscent of last season, when one try just led, almost immediately in some cases, to another.  It is the hallmark of summer rugby – what was intended when the game changed season, back in 1995.  With the dry conditions, handling becomes easier and errors fewer, which is fine for the team in possession.  Back-to-back tries become far more commonplace.

It is, however, for the opposing side a quite thankless task, endeavouring to defend against the continuous onslaught of attacking plays, and sooner or later energy, to stem this, disappears.  Things then can only change when eventually possession becomes the prerogative of the other side, and they are in the position of calling all the shots.

It was two poor end-of-set kicks immediately after Williams’s try, the first of which went directly over the dead-ball line thus instigating a seven-tackle set bringing the Giants good field position.  The second came at the end of Salford’s subsequent set, which was collected on the half way line giving Huddersfield the opportunity to set up their first really threatening attack and gain the first of their tries which proved to be a tonic to the visitors.

Suddenly, the Red Devils found themselves defending against a team throwing the ball around, under the direction of Fages, in a similar manner to their own.  Defence against recent opponents has been on wet surfaces, which slows down the attack, meaning that the defence has that little more time to make its decisions.  The faster the game, the harder it is for defenders.

Thankfully, the half time interval kept eight of the Red Devils’ original twenty-four points intact to provide some cushioning for the second forty.  Having outscored the visitors by one try in the first half, it turned out to be Huddersfield who were to cross for the extra try in the second period.

Once they did regain control again, on fifty-two minutes, the Red Devils carried on from where they had left off in the second quarter, and once again built up a seemingly impregnable twenty-point lead with only fifteen minutes left.  It is generally accepted that eighteen points is insufficient a margin, at half time, to securely win the match, but anyone would have thought that twenty would have been more than sufficient, fifteen minutes from the end.

That thought seems to have been there in the Salford players’ minds, but most clearly was not in the minds of the Giants.  The Salford players must surely have believed that they could comfortably outscore their opponents, which they both did, and did not.

They did not because their seven-try feast was matched by their opponents.  It eventually came down to the one hundred percent goal-kicking fete of Marc Sneyd, whilst Huddersfield’s Connor fell short of that target, albeit by one, but that one attempt mattered greatly.

REDS DEVILS IN DEPTH: LEEDS V SALFORD

In what was only the club’s fifth victory over Leeds at Headingley in seventy-eight years, the Salford Red Devils last Friday night, put that spectre to bed with an outstanding, winning performance, to take the spoils in an increasingly tightly fought battle to cement places in the Super League top six.

There had been an air of confidence and enthusiasm for the encounter, throughout the camp during the week, and on the night the players executed a game plan which drew on every strength within the side, leaving nothing to chance, and exposing any deficiency within their hosts’ ranks.

Whilst their attacking flair, as we knew it from last season, still lies awaiting the dry grounds, they have replaced it with an efficiency in defence of which Salford fans have not had experience for many a long year, and thereby rests a significant factor in the reasons for the paucity in post-war wins over there.

Looking back over the game without the anxieties which must have occasionally surfaced in some, whilst watching on the night, we can all appreciate just how good a game it was throughout, with both sides having their periods of ascendency.

Salford’s were probably the more prolonged, and certainly the more effective, because it was in these spells of dominance, with more than adequate possession in the Rhinos’ red zone, that their match winning twenty-two points were scored.  The effect on the home side of all this pressure was to force errors, particularly errors of discipline, leading to penalties and, consequently, even more pressure. 

The first of these came in the twelfth minute, when after an opening ten-minute arm wrestle, in which flaws in the home side’s handling started to become evident, Salford won, forcing a goal-line drop-out and a subsequent repeat set.

It was, however, the sin-binning in the 18th minute, of Leeds’s stand-off, Austin, for an obstruction on Kallum Watkins, which brought things to a head, with the Red Devils then tearing their opponents defence to shreds to notch two converted tries, through first, Rhys Williams, after they had got their attacking line in full flow, and then, five minutes later, the ball being moved to the left and Sam Stone showing great skill to avoid attempted tackles before going over to the left of the posts.

Their second period of dominance came in the third quarter, when they increased a six-point, half-time lead to what was to be a match-determining sixteen, courtesy of a converted try and two penalty goals.

The Rhinos, nevertheless, had their moments, though for somewhat shorter spells.  Their first came in the final ten minutes of the first half when they changed tactics by reverting to some daring, and some risky, offloads, which on the night stuck, none more than in the run up to their 38th minute try, under the posts.

Similarly, the Yorkshiremen gained the ascendency for the concluding fifteen minutes, when they were rejuvenated by a further six-pointer in the corner by getting on the end of a cross-field kick to set up, though as it turned out to be, an unnecessary nail-biting conclusion to the encounter – unnecessary, of course, because the Salford defence was equal to anything the Rhinos could thereafter muster to throw at it.

And that defence is now becoming a weapon in their armoury that no-one, outside the group, had probably expected.  It has, though,  been increasingly evident over a number of matches, culminating in that home victory over Catalans, which will have stood them in great stead in readiness for this encounter, for yet again the pack had to contend with, and actually subdue, a much larger and powerful opposing set.

Led by their opening middles, King Vuniyayawa, who must have relished every moment of facing up to his former club, Ollie Partington, who so noticeably showed the knack of putting himself in the right position to dictate plays, and Tyler Dupree, fresh from international duty.  They were ably replicated by the trustworthy Jack Ormondroyd, and Shane Wright, whose form this season has been absolute revelation.

Kallun Watkins made a captain’s contribution showing such strength and determination in his running, but mention also has to be made of the contribution of Ellis Longstaff, who had to be drafted into the unfamiliar role of centre, and acquitted himself well throughout, even going over the third of the visitors’ three tries.

Finally, it would be remiss not to mention the significant role of Marc Sneyd, whose kicking, especially goal-kicking, week after week, can so significantly make the difference between winning and losing.  It seems now to be even falling into the dim and distant past, at Leigh actually, since he last missed a goalkick, and his two penalty successes against the Rhinos, were, points-wise, the equivalent of an additional try.

So, it is onwards, next week, to the Totally Wicked Stadium, where against the World Club Champions it will require everything on view from the Reds at Leeds, and who knows what more besides, to overcome the Saints.  After this latest victory, their fourth in a row, however, they certainly will not be short on confidence.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V WAKEFIELD

There is nothing more surprising than outcomes and results in any sport, and the only thing which we should be surprised by is our own surprise at unexpected results, because they happen so often, all of which is what makes it so fascinating to watch.  That was certainly the case, this weekend, for Salford Red Ded Devils when they took on the visiting Wakefield Trinity, with their visitors languishing without a victory at the foot of the table, whilst the Reds themselves were on the back of a sixty-point scoreline from the previous week.

Expectations for this encounter, therefore, had the sky as the limit in the minds of many, and when Matty Costello crossed for a converted try, in the fourth minute, thanks to a considerable overlap that their signature, slick handling had forged, a few more, rathermore guarded individuals will have joined their ranks.

It has been said, on previous occasions in these pages. that scoring too early and too easily can become something of a double-edged sword, by encouraging over-confidence in a team’s ranks, which leads to a small but important drop in their intensity, which in turn feeds into a growth in self-confidence among their opponents.

Factor in the desperation at Wakefield’s current plight, which must be eminent throughout their ranks, coupled with the fact that they had obviously done a very thorough job in their preparation for the game so that every strike player for Salford had been identified and was carefully marshalled.  Kallum Watkins, for example, found, in opposite number Matty Ashurst, an almost ever-present obstacle to his breaking clear.

So the longer the Red Devils went without scoring again, the more the visitors grew in self-belief, and they found themselves getting to those try-saving tackles which kept their deficit to manageable proportions.  For their part the home side started to show signs of frustration with themselves at their further lack of success, and a wild pass on their own line caused a goal-line drop-out, from which Wakefield opened their account, after ten minutes, to draw level.

A thwarted opportunity to score through Deon Cross, in the 23rd minute, as often happens in these circumstances led to the opposition going to the other end and taking a 6-10 lead with an unconverted try in their right corner.  Fortunately, Salford still had one more try left in them before the interval, from a simple, basic scoot by Chris Atkins which was sufficient to get him over to restore a two-point half-time lead.

It would appear that discussions over half-time had shifted the Reds’ focus for the second half to establishing midfield dominance by the forwards, and for the first twenty minutes this went well with the pack gaining good field position and keeping the visitors penned in their own half.   Tyler Dupree might not have made any eye-catching clean breaks, but he certainly made the Wakefield six struggle to contain him.

It was similarly great to see the now-returned, Adam Sidlow, rolling back the years by a decade since his last spell here, and wearing the opposition down using his power and size to grand effect, as he has done against us so many times during the interim period.

The nearest the home side were to come to scoring though was on 59 mins, when Rhys Williams got over the line, only to lose the ball in a last-ditch tackle, and, when Wakefield did eventually get to the other end, they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts which tied the score at twelve all, ten minutes from time.

It is at times like these that someone has to emerge to set their seal on the game, and, on this occasion, it was man-of-the-match, Marc Sneyd.  He had been one of the Salford players, throughout the game, to have been able to trouble the Trinity defence, but drop-goals, after all, are one of his specialities. How reassuring it was, therefore, to watch him take complete control of the situation in the final five minutes, and through extra time.

His first, with five minutes remaining, was promptly wiped out by Wakefield, who were gifted possession from the restart, by Salford’s failing to take the ball before it went into touch, his second attempt was a rushed affair which went wide and his third was successful in itself but with it being disallowed for an incorrect play-the-ball immediately before. There was no such doubt over his final kick which won the match, much to everyone’s relief.

Disappointing as the performance might have been, however, the benefit of going through a dour, tough encounter, not to mention experiencing golden-point extra time, will undoubtedly stand them in good stead for the future, for it is not just having players who have gone through these experiences elsewhere themselves, but the whole group going through it together and learning from one another how to do so, successfully.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: LEIGH V SALFORD

For the many travelling Salford fans who made the short journey to Leigh Sports Village, last Friday, the memory of a truly splendid evening will last well into the near future, with pre-match entertainment, to celebrate the relaunch of the home club as Leigh Leopards whilst coinciding with their return to Super League, being of the highest calibre anyone could expect.  That Salford Red Devils were the team to share in the tremendous atmosphere which consequently ensued was something which the players will relish for some little time to come.

And the game itself did not disappoint.  True, there was little in the way of slick expansive rugby, but this is February, and the going underfoot is quite soft and inhibiting in this respect. The tight, finely balanced encounter which unfolded in its place, was most enthralling, keeping everyone’s attention rivetted on the spectacle unfolding, with the result in the balance right to the closing couple of minutes.

This was thanks to the high quality of skills on view from both teams, which led to high completion rates for both, though with Salford’s being the greater, and with unforced errors relatively few and far between, thus enabling continuity of play for good spells.

The Red Devils’ superiority in this area was probably down to their prior Super League experience and to the bulk of the team having played together last season, unlike the Leigh side which was assembled for the first time during the close season  In addition, the individual player’s commitment to, knowledge of, and efficacy in undertaking their own particular role was top level, as most easily exemplified by three or four who really caught the eye.

Man of the Match, Ryan Brierley’s contribution to the victory came just as much from two try-saving, second-half tackles on Charnley and Lam together with his unwavering courage and ability to defuse four extremely testing, high bombs, in the final fifteen minutes – thereby securing pressure-relieving possession for the Reds, at such a crucial time – as it came from his attacking involvement and fiftieth minute try.

Pound for pound, Rhys Williams’s involvement will have matched pretty well anyone’s, with his sideways runs in which he evaded tackle after tackle, so often ensuring that the team would not get hemmed into corners, at the start of their sets, whilst debutant, Ollie Partington had class written all over everything he did.

As he often does with this goal-kicking, Marc Sneyd had a hundred percent success rate, which was double that of his opposite kicker.  Yes, three of the were from in front of the posts, but the first of them was from out wide, and still needed kicking in order to provide that important, comfortable two-scores lead the Reds enjoyed for most of the second half, particularly when they were down to twelve men for ten minutes, and also during that  nervy final quarter, in which Leigh threw everything they had, at them.

If there were an area in which they were outdone by their hosts, it was in their discipline, which let them down in the first half which ended with a 4:1 penalty count against them.  A baptism of fire with which they had plagued the home side for the first eight minutes was eventually brought to an end by a penalty early in a tackle count, and with that the momentum of the game swung right over to the Leopards. 

Their first attack fizzled out owing to a handling error, but their second penalty was compounded by a set-restart which culminated with their winning the first of two goal-line drop-outs, which both provided them further sets, and, consequently, further waves of attack..

In the end though it is tries which count, and the Red Devils got through the twenty-minute spell by conceding only one in the twenty-first minute from Lam’s wide pass out to Charnley.  Their dogged, hard-working defence throughout this period played a significant part in procuring the eventual outcome.  Once they restored momentum to themselves, by means of possession and field position, they were able to deliver the counter-punch by means of three well-taken tries around half time.

Brodie Croft, as always, was the springboard for the first on 34 mins, when he put Kallum Watkins through on the charge to the line, and similarly Brierley on 49 mins.  In between, the irrepressible Andy Ackers caught out Leigh’s loss of concentration around the ruck, two minutes before half-time, to scoot over and ground between the posts, despite the Leopards’ attempts to deny him.  They, for their part, were able to take advantage of Marc Sneyd’s sinbinning, with Hardaker’s penalty try on 59 mins, setting up a nail-biting final quarter.

A most satisfying result, therefore, to get the team a winning start to 2023, and one which hopefully they can build upon in the coming weeks, starting with this coming Thursday’s eagerly awaited, first home fixture with Hull KR – one of the very few teams to take all four points against the Red Devils, in 2022.  It is time, and opportunity, to redress the balance.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V SWINTON PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY

Salford Red Devils opened their 2023 season, on Sunday afternoon, with what in the end turned out to be a remarkably close 26-22 winning scoreline in the first of their pre-season friendlies, against traditional local rivals, Swinton, winners last week in a friendly over St Helens reserves, to retain Peter Smethurst Trophy for another season.

The well-known phrase ‘a game of two halves’ was taken to a new level, for, in truth, it was almost a case of two separate games of forty minutes, either side of half time.  The only elements common to both were the opposition, the progressing scoreline, and three first team players, whose game-time straddled the interval.

With the first choice Red Devils taking complete control during the first half, it was always going to be a case as to whether the 26-0 half time lead, which the players from the Reserves inherited to defend for the second stanza, would be sufficient for them to hold out against their well-organised and enthusiastic opponents from the Championship.  That they were successful in doing so was ultimately down to their dogged defensive efforts, which kept the Lions pointless, until the fiftieth minute.

Indeed, it has to be said that they came closer to scoring, a few minutes later, than their opponents had done in the first half, only for the final pass to be ruled as forward.  A try at that moment would have been a real boost for them, and could have led to a less nervy, final few minutes.  In the end it was a single player being in the right place at the right time, which prevented Swinton scoring on the death, by causing Scott Mikalauskas to blow for obstruction.

All of which was in stark contrast with the expected domination of the Salford first team, who opened their account as early as the third minute, with Rhys Williams crossing for a try in the left corner goaled by Mark Sneyd from the touch line.  They then went on to score at almost regular intervals, aided by a good supply of possession, which was assisted, at times, by the Lions’ ill-timed attempts at stealing the ball, none of which went unnoticed by the referee.

Swinton’s best spell of that half was in the second quarter, when they gained rather more possession and were able to test out the home side’s defence.  That this stood firm mid-field consequently prevented the Lions getting too close to become any real threat, and this is a facet of the Reds’ game which will be have to stand much greater tests in the coming weeks and months.

When in possession, the Red Devils showed that they still have the same flair to entertain as they had had in the latter stages of last season, producing some thrilling skilful handling and running, from which the tries flowed.  True there were errors, and that was only to be expected with a small number of debutants in the side, on a cold afternoon, and a slippery ball, but these will diminish as the whole squad gels together and the weather improves.

Their final score, in the 37th minute, was a fine example of how the whole team was keen and capable of keeping the ball alive and supporting one another, with no less than six players inter-passing for Ryan Brierley to finish off with a sixpointer.

The vital half back pairing, which, by the end of last season was probably the best in Super League, was seen to be at the heart of much of the Salford attacking ploys, not least in the run-up to their second try, on 9 mins.  Sneyd’s probing, cross-field run, across the visitors’ line, sucked in the defence and his quick play-the-ball gave Brodie Croft the opportunity to send out a wonderful, long pass which found Ken Sio on the touch line to go in at the corner.

So, an overall enjoyable and successful afternoon for everyone, with Swinton gaining satisfaction from their endeavours throughout, though most evidently in the later stages of the match.  Salford’s first team players gained some invaluable game-time together, while the Reserves had the experience of performing in front of a much larger crowd than they will usually encounter, and against professional opposition.

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 WARRINGTON

After two back-to-back games in one weekend, Red Devils’ Head Coach, Paul Rowley, rewarded the team, which had, most remarkably, won both, and doing so straight after an energy-sapping trip to Catalans, by giving them what one would suspect they desired most of all, a well-earned rest.  The consequence of this was that the team given the task of facing the Wolves, at the weekend, was a rather makeshift group.

With six players from the Reserves making their debuts, and other more experienced players selected in most unfamiliar positions, expectations, among fans, of a victory were not high, and those expectations proved correct.  What, however, was not correct was the fear that the side might get swept aside by an opposition keen to make the most of what they regarded as a winnable match.

Far from that, although struggling in the early stages to adapt to new positions, the speed of the game, and one another, they grew into it extremely well, and the longer it went on the more they forced the visitors into handling errors, which aided their own cause and increased their confidence considerably.

Indeed, it was the home side which produced the first of a number of scoring opportunities, in the second minute when right winger, Myles-Dalton Harrop, was unable to take advantage of an extremely awkwardly bouncing ball from an end-of-set kick to his corner.

With nothing to show for this Warrington took the opportunity to open the scoring, two minutes later, when they forced an overlap on their left flank to score in the corner.  They then succeeded in doubling their score to eight points, on twelve minutes, with another try wide out to the touchline.

Harvey Livett’s superb kick-off found open ground and bounced into touch, thereby securing the Red Devils unexpected possession in ideal territory, and from the ensuing attack James Greenwood forced his way over and twisted round to ground the ball to the referee’s satisfaction.  Stand-in goal kicker, Livett, proved to be a more than adequate replacement, landing all three of his attempts, some from the most difficult positions.

The next fifteen minutes saw the Wolves mount a succession of attacks which had their hosts at full stretch and pinned down in their own twenty metre area, staving off each attempt to increase the winning margin.  In fact, it was the 32nd minute before the Wolves eventually managed to cross the line between the posts and take the score to 6-14.

Three minutes later, an impromptu football match, started by Warrington hacking on a loose ball and then less successfully continuing to try to control it with further kicks, was won by Rhys Williams who secured possession and returned play back to the Wolves end of the field.  A goal-line drop-out was forced, and Salford raced through for what looked like a simple try.  Too clean and simple for referee, Ben Thaler, however, who had spotted an obstruction in the build-up.

It was, nevertheless, the Reds who finished the stronger, adding to their points tally with a Livett penalty-goal in the 39th minute, to bring the half-time score to a most respectable, 8-14.

The second half started with yet another spell, this time of eight minutes, of the Salford players thwarting periods of Warrington attack, until the visitors got onto the end of a low kick into the in-goal area for a converted try.

The highlight for Salford of this second forty came on 59 mins, when Myles-Dalton Harrop was put in the clear, on his wing, and he romped over to gain some compensation for his earlier unrewarded attempt, and, despite the difficult angle, Livett had no problem in slotting over the extras.

Although they failed to trouble the scoreboard operator thereafter, they certainly did cause problems for the Wolves’ attack, limiting them to only two further converted tries, during the period in which more experienced sides usually rachet up a quite overwhelming score, in such seemingly uneven contests.

Even the final score went contrary to the context surrounding it.  Having denied the visitors a score yet again, on the 79th minute, this time by preventing the prospective scorer from grounding the ball over the line, the Reds suffered the cruel twist of fate of having a well-intended pass to the right flank intercepted, leading to a winning margin, which failed to reflect the true balance of the game.

It was, nevertheless, a great experience for all of the players making their debuts, and credit must also go to the more experienced members of the side, who similarly rose to the occasion to provide direction and support for the newcomers, thus making it a truly, all-round team effort.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH:  SALFORD V HULL

It was not quite the game we had been expecting.  Looking over the fixture list a few weeks ago, games against St Helens, Catalans, and Huddersfield loomed large on the horizon, but with Hull FC seemingly in free fall, at the time, this appeared to be one game we could possibly look forward to winning with rather more ease, particularly with it being a home fixture, and the rampant form that the Red Devils had shown in their most recent outings

In the event, however, this all proved to be a far cry from the game which ensued, with the visitors arriving with a rather more representative side than had been on view over recent outing and the benefit of this to their performance became increasingly evident.

Salford, themselves, might have been a shade off their lethal best, on the night, which to a certain extent is most understandable when taking into account the energy sapping travels to and from the south of France last weekend, coupled with the extremely short recovery period in the run-up to last night’s encounter.

Consequently, the scintillating attacks, to which have now become accustomed, were in somewhat short supply, and as the game wore on, the players had to adapt to a rather less flamboyant style in order to get the job done and bring home the two vital league points.

The opening exchanges had not, though, signalled anything different as they tore the Hull defence asunder with a blind-side move, which put Brodie Croft in the clear, but, with support available on either side of him, he attempted to dummy his way past Jake Connor, at fullback.  If he were to have that moment again, Brodie would probably take a different option, but with so many players alongside him, he possibly had too many from which to choose, on the spur of the moment.

Having seemingly been able to snuff out such a clear scoring opportunity did wonders for the motivation of the Humbersiders, and they seemed visibly to grow in confidence, from that point on.  It was, consequently, not until the eleventh minute that Salford notched their first points, which came on the back of sustained pressure, courtesy of a Hull goal-line drop-out.

Kallum Watkins, it was, who followed up his brace of surging runs at Catalans, the week before, when he was put through for another great run, to score close in, with Marc Sneyd converting.  Back-to-back tries have not been uncommon for Salford over recent weeks, but any thoughts of that happening in this game, soon evaporated, when it surprisingly turned out to be the visitors who were next to cross the line, after Salford had conceded a penalty to set them up to attack.

The Reds had a great deal to be thankful for goal-line drop-outs, as one having already led to one try, another such restart saw the ball moved along the line to Tim Lafai, who, in the absence of Joe Burgess, fed Rhys Williams, who made just as much of the opportunity as Burgess, himself, would have done to take the score to 10-6.

Finding that their normal routes to the try-line were being well policed by Hull defenders, the Salford players were required to draw upon every individual skill they had at their disposal, and a superb 40-20, on 26 mins, from Sneyd, laid a platform for the Reds, but sadly without anything coming of it.

Not so Sneyd’s opposite number Gale, who had been causing endless trouble for the Reds, with his end-of-set kicks.  Indeed, Hull’s opening try had come from a kick, and so too did their second, though only with the assistance of an extremely awkward bounce – directly into the hands of Fash – which gave the visitors an eyebrow-raising, 10-12, half time lead.

It was a much more determined home side which emerged for the second half, and the patience they needed to accompany this was certainly tested to the full, at vital times.  Six minutes from the resumption they got their reward, in the form of a try straight from a scrum 25m out, which concluded with Ken Sio crossing in the corner to restore their lead, at 16-12, with Sneyd’s conversion.

Deon Cross’s 57th minute try between the posts went some considerable way to settling nerves, especially when Sneyd added on the extras, and there was an air of expectation that this might be  the portender of several more.  Far from that, however, it was Hull, who next got on the score sheet.

A most unexpected Hull downtown kick into touch – usually used by teams in the lead to wind down the clock – worked magically in their favour, when Salford lost the ball inside their own half, and the Yorkshire side opened up the defence on their left wing to bring them back to within four points, and those nerves began to jangle again.

Not for the players, though.  They remained totally calm, and used their experience from previous matches to soak up the sets, and the remaining seven minutes, with a steadiness which must have disheartened their opponents, until a final Hull error from a kick gave possession back to the Red Devils who celebrated with Ryan Brierley’s try, to wrap up the game.

A tough game it most certainly was, but possibly just the right thing to prepare the players for the challenge which awaits them, on Monday, at Castleford.

Find us on twitter

Find us on Instagram

Sign up to the official newsletter