BRIERLEY: “OUR CLUB CAPTAIN IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF WHO KIDS CAN LOOK UP TO…”

Ryan Brierley believes players like Kallum Watkins can be an inspiration to up and coming young talent in our newly-awarded Elite Academy.

Today’s announcement is a massive step in the right direction for the entire club, with plans to build on the already strong infrastructure in place and nurture young, local talent into players who could one day represent Salford Red Devils.

One of our Own, Ryan Brierley didn’t come through the ranks at the club, but knows just what it means to represent his boyhood team – and wants others to have the same experience.

Speaking exclusively to our YouTube channel, the fullback was asked how he feels to see a new generation of players now given the opportunity to progress through their grassroots clubs’, into the Red Devils’ Elite Academy.

“I think that’s the exciting thing when you’re looking behind your shoulder, there’s people trying to take your shirt – and there’s a pathway there to take that,” he said.

“We’ve probably felt guilt over recent years that we’ve not created many youngsters, but I think if you look at our captain, Kallum Watkins, it shouldn’t have taken him that long to end up back at Salford, he should’ve been here a lot sooner.

“People can aspire to be people like Kallum, who is an England international and is now the club captain.

“I know as a young kid that you always focus on your idols; not so much teams, but you focus on certain players.

“I think our club captain is a perfect example of someone who kids can look up to, idolise – and I suppose it’s an exciting opportunity from top looking down to see the young kids coming through, and want to play for Salford.

“I think that’ll be the big difference in having a pathway. Not many kids idolise or want to play for Salford, but I’d love to change that narrative and now we’ve got our own academy, that can start to happen.”

To see our full chat with Ryan, click below.

BRIERLEY: “A BIT OF A RUGBY NERD ACTUALLY!”

Ryan Brierley has heaped praise on the in form Nene Macdonald after another stellar display last Friday night.

The PNG international was at his thrilling best at the John Smith’s Stadium, scoring two tries in a 16-18 win against Huddersfield Giants.

His first was a stunning full length break after intercepting Jake Connor’s attempted cut-out pass, whilst his second was a powerful run from dummy-half to crash through the line.

Speaking to our YouTube channel after Captain’s run, teammate, Ryan Brierley was asked if he was surprised at the impact Macdonald has made since joining the club.

“No. I watched him play for Leigh a few years back and I realised then what a talent he was. Playing at Leeds, I saw how much of a talent he was then and how hard he is to handle,” he said.

“But regardless of the rugby, I just think we’ve brought another great character to the group. He’s that chilled – a bit of rugby nerd actually!

“You wouldn’t think it, but he loves his rugby, talking about different plays and ways he can express himself – which is what we want.

“I think this environment suits him down to the ground. It’s a very relaxed environment where you can just focus on playing rugby and enjoying yourself.

“He’s certainly doing that and I think that’s evident in his performances.”

Last weekend’s win was our seventh from ten Betfred Super League games so far this season – a run which sees us tied with five other clubs on 14 points.

In our last two outings, the Red Devils have beaten the team picked as favourites prior to kick-off.

“I suppose it’s just factual, isn’t it?” Brierley replied when asked if being the underdogs favoured his team.

“When you look at the squad spend of other teams and the resource of other teams, I think it’s fair to put us as underdogs.

“We’re not expected to do anything. Obviously it adds as a motivation that people write us off all the time, but it’s been the case ever since I came here three years ago, so nothing has really changed.”

He continued: “I think we’ve added a tough mentality with Ollie P and Singo, people like that, who have won things at big clubs, which certainly helps.

“But we’re okay with it. It’s not a tag that we kind of shout about. Especially Rowls, I think he’d rather have more resource and more money to spend, but that’s the case.

“We do well with what we’ve got and hopefully we can keep the good run of form going. Obviously we have a few injuries, so we need to manage them the best we can and come through a tough period.”

To see our full pre-match chat with Ryan, click below.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V WARRINGTON

The Red Devils celebrated their return to the Salford Community Stadium for a home fixture, on Saturday, with a most impressive and much deserved victory over near neighbours, Warrington Wolves.

Almost as if to underline the unity which Paul Rowley has created within his group of players, he had provided them, in the form of a game plan, with a blueprint to put the Wolves to the sword, which they carried out, if not for the full eighty minutes, at the most crucial points of the game.

For the second week in succession, this was based on the domination of his pack over their opponents, and in this respect he must have been extremely pleased, and indeed proud, of the way they undertook this, from the very first carry, right through to the final whistle, with prop, Jack Ormondroyd leading the way, in what might be argued to have been his best performance in a Salford jersey.

His hit-ups were tremendous, and the last two of the first half were significant in themselves, with the first setting-up the position for Marc Sneyd’s drop-goal, and then after the restart, a strong carry forward in which, Warrington’s second rower, Joe Philbin received some collateral damage, which necessitated his brief withdrawal for attention.

Alongside him, mention must also be given to the rejuvenated Andrew Dixon, who appears to have made the move from second-row to prop in great style, but uses the running skills of his former position to great effect in the middle, whilst winger Ethan Ryan was positively involved throughout the game in both attack and defence.

What more can one say about Tim Lafai?  Every time he takes the field he pulls out something out of the ordinary, and Saturday was no exception, with his twice handing-off of opposite centre, Stefan Ratchford on his thirty metre race to the line, on nine minutes, for the opening try.

A second one, giving them back-to-back scores, might well have followed, when a change of tactics saw slick passing open up a gap for Ryan Brierley to go through from Kallum Watkins’s off-load, only for the fullback to be stopped ten metres from the line.

Not for the only time, however, the game was to swing away from them, a few minutes later, when Warrington had three back-to-back sets from a penalty and a touch-in-flight, leading to the son of former Salford Head Coach, Karl Harrison, James Harrison’s simple try by the posts, which put them ahead with their successful goal kick.

It was George Williams’s in-goal end-of-set kicks, however, on which the Wolves relied most, though with a somewhat checkered overall outcome.  There were four of them throughout the first half, with both first and last rolling dead, and giving Salford two seven-tackle sets from the twenty-metre restart.  The second, whilst being better in itself, brought no result as fullback, Matt Dufty, was unable to take advantage of the opportunity, giving the Reds another seven-tackle restart.

The third, however, was absolutely on target, giving the impression of rolling dead but holding up long enough for the kicker to get around Brierley to register their second try for a 4-10 lead. 

Something as simple as a penalty from the subsequent kick-off, though, brought another swing in momentum, with the Red Devils gaining chance to attack the visitors’ line, thereby giving Joe Mellor his first try for Salford, under the posts direct from a play-the-ball, with Sneyd’s kick thus bringing the scores level, for a brief ten minutes.

Despite early Salford pressure, it was the visitors who opened the second half scoring with a penalty goal, which swung the single-point lead in their favour.  Credit to the Salford players, they promptly refocused themselves upon putting matters to rights.

Probably the most overworked official for the match was the video referee, who was brought into action on no less than five occasions, each time confirming the on-field decision of the referee.  Consequently, the game’s final and decisive try, which came on 71 mins, did just that.

Three times Brierley came close to scoring throughout the game, and three times he was thwarted – the third time by an off-the-ball tackle as it rolled around in the in-goal area.  The video ref has only two buttons as options to press – TRY & NO TRY, which relate as to whether a try has been scored or not.  Because there had been no try actually scored on the field, the big screen indicated that, but verbally it was confirmed to the referee that Brierley should be awarded a penalty try.

With a five point lead then to protect, Salford most effectively managed the game for the remaining seven minutes, just as they had done for twenty-five, at London, the week before, to become only the second team to have inflicted defeat on this high-flying Warrington side.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: LONDON V SALFORD

It might not have been an all-singing all-dancing performance from the Salford Red Devils, on their visit to London, last Saturday, but in terms of efficiency in getting the job done and securing the important two league points, there can be no complaints at all.

Following the disappointment in their last outing, at Castleford, the players were all too well-aware that teams at the foot of the table can present as great a danger, particularly when they are at home, as teams at or near the top, and had clearly determined to ensure that that did not happen again.

To this end, therefore, priority had clearly been given to defence, and keeping their try line intact, in which they not only proved to be sufficiently able, but also had made a most accurate pre-match assessment.

Fixtureless weekends, although helpful in the medium and long term, bringing respite from the weekly hurly-burly of Super League and an opportunity for recovery from minor injuries, can, however, in the short term bring its own problems, with a certain small degree of ring-rustiness creeping in.

This, to a certain extent, seemed to be the case for Salford on attack, particularly in the first half, with timings of supporting runs and passes slightly below their norm, so that a number of scoring chances went begging. 

Two breaks down the left flank, both came to nothing when a score seemed imminent.  The first by Deon Cross was well supported by Marc Sneyd, but, unfortunately, he overran his winger, whose pass would have had to have gone forward in order to have been taken, while Shane Wright’s break ended with his having to take the fullback’s tackle as he had no-one close enough to pass to.

In order to break down the eager, hard-working defence of London they needed especially to build prolonged pressure, but errors prevented this, with dropped passes and end-of-set kicks going over the dead-ball line, the latter of which had the double whammy of presenting the Broncos with seven-tackle sets from the twenty-metre restarts.

What was needed above all was a consecutive number of back-to-back sets to wear down the opposition, but in fact it was London who were first to benefit from this with the opening try of the game coming from four such sets as a result of a Salford touch-in-flight, a penalty, and a forward pass on the Reds’ one extremely brief possession of the ball.  The resultant scrum from that last, gave them numerical advantage on their left edge to go in at the corner, in the 19th minute.

Realising that trying to go wide around the Broncos defence was not paying dividends Salford turned to what had shown to be a simpler and more effective process – that of strong forward drives up-field.  One, in the 25th minute started with Ryan Brierley taking the ball five metres out from his posts.  His forward carry was then followed by five drives up-field, aided by a set-restart on the third, and finished by Brierley’s half break to the line with his offload to Kallum Watkins for his first try of the season.  The first of Sneyd’s two successful conversions gave Salford the small but extremely important two-point half-time lead.

Signs that the half-time interval had been well spent came as early as three minutes after the restart, when a second set of possession was gained from a forced goal-line drop-out and an excellent cut-out pass from Sneyd to Cross put him in at the corner, similar in some respects to the Broncos’ opener.

The crucial incident of the second half, however, was the dismissal of King Vuniyayawa for what was deemed by the video referee to have been a dangerous tackle.  One can only praise, thereafter, the tactics and game management of the Salford players.  Slender as an eight-point lead might be, it was all they had, and they were totally committed to retaining it.

From that point onwards, the Broncos had barely a sniff at the Salford line.  They were almost totally contained in their own half, often starting their sets in the tightest of corners and barely being able to get past the twenty-metre line before having to take their end-of-set kicks.

Adding further to their score, whilst highly desirable was not absolutely essential, and retaining possession for each full set took priority with any chance of a repeat set being taken.  Sneyd’s, now impeccable, high kicks to the exceptional Nene Macdonald, caused panic within the home ranks on numerous occasions, and the centre’s pats backwards invariably found a Salford player.

The overturning of the on-field decision by the video referee, on Tim Lafai’s try, five minutes from the end, came as a complete surprise to everyone on the field, all of whom had taken up positions for its subsequent conversion attempt .Had it been allowed, it would have been some reward for the Red Devils’ valiant efforts in retaining their lead in such a convincing manner, in such adversity as they had found themselves.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: CASTLEFORD V SALFORD

It is the unpredictability in sport, especially the result, which makes it so enthralling for so many of us.  The fact that the underdog might just win is what sparks our interest, while to be there for the odd occasion when that actually happens is absolutely thrilling, as all our fans, who travelled to the Totally Wicked Stadium for our recent victory over St Helens, will testify.

Not so, however, when you happen to be the side which had been expected to win, as was the case for Salford’s fixture at the Mend-A- Hose Jungle, against Castleford, last Friday evening, which proved to be a disappointment not only for those who made the trip over, but also those who watched it on tv.

In fairness to all connected with the team, the very fact that they were actually expected to win the encounter is a great testament to the progress they have made in recent seasons.  It was not that long ago that the thought of winning any match in Yorkshire, let alone at Castleford, proved to be somewhat fruitless, but the more successful a team is the more that this sort of disappointment is likely to happen.  If it can happen to St Helens, it can happen to anyone.

There had been some little warning in the games in which the two sides were involved the previous round, but it can also be argued that the seeds for this outcome were sown back in Round 2, when an extremely similar encounter, which also saw the game swing back and forth between the two sides ended with the Red Devils running out 26-22 victors.

The Tigers had been really disappointed at this, feeling that they had done enough to have won it themselves, and probably consoled themselves by briefly earmarking the return fixture as one to look forward to.  Certainly, once they got in control in the last quarter, on Friday, they were always going to find enough energy and endeavour to try and hold on, which they managed to do.

Not that there was any sign of this through the opening fifteen minutes, when Salford swept to an eight-point lead, from Deon Cross’s try and two goals from Marc Sneyd, and they looked as though they were capable of scoring with regularity.  The sinbinning of Amir Bourouh was an impediment but could not be said to have been a turning point, as the Tigers had already given clear warning of their capability and determination, through the first of Ines Senior’s tries down the left wing.

By the time Bourouh returned, the home side, with numerical advantage, had taken charge, but there was still time for the Red Devils to hit back then and to narrow the half-time score to 14-18, with Tim Lafae’s converted try.

With the slope in their favour and a half-time discussion to spur them on, Salford really stepped up a gear with two excellent tries from Nene Macdonald and Ryan Brierley to take the score to 18-24.

Probably the really big turning point of the game was the over-ruling by both referee and video ref of Cade Cust’s attempted score on 53 mins, owing to a knock-forward in the contest for possession, prior to the grounding.  So often, we have seen in televised matches, teams, which regain possession in such circumstances, launch a counter-attack ending with a try at the other end of the pitch, and it was with Senior’s second score that Castleford started their come-back.

It was the confidence this rekindled in the home side, which was the most telling factor, allied to their sheer desperation for the win.  The difference from then on between the two sides was that Salford really wanted to win, but Castleford so badly needed it, and were determined not to let this one slip in the way that they felt they had done at Salford, back in February.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V LEIGH

A final fifteen-minute fightback by the visiting Leigh Leopards, in last Saturday’s aptly titled Rivals’ Round, at the Salford Stadium, proved insufficient in overturning what had seemed a comfortable twenty-point margin, following a game which, apart from the occasional blip, the Red Devils had dominated from quite early in the proceedings.

With the added impetus, had it been needed, of its being Ryan Brierley’s three hundredth professional appearance, after a somewhat tame opening stanza, the home side took control upon the sinbinning of Leigh’s Lachlan Lam, on six minutes.

Indeed, it was Brierley, who, determined to make his mark on the match continually throughout the first half, was obstructed by the Leopard’s stand-off, whilst chasing Mark Sneyd’s end-of-set kick-in-goal, and the Reds made good use of the benefit of the extra man, over the following ten minutes.

Sneyd gratefully accepted the opportunity to kick his side into the lead with the first of his, once again, hundred percent success goal kicking rate, from the resultant penalty, and then six minutes later Brierley again came to the fore with the first of his brace of tries.

Three back-to-back sets – so indicative of the Red Devils’ domination – set up the position, and continued pressure, on the Leigh line, which he eventually broke, much to the delight of the two hospitality-box full of his friends and family, with the combination of a dummy and clever step inside as the ball was being moved towards the right wing.

Although he might have had some success in gaining the video referee’s judgement in his earlier collision with Lam, Joe Mellor, on his Salford debut, possibly felt rather hard done to, on eighteen minutes, when, not for the first time for Salford this season, his collision with Gareth O’Brien was not passed on for further scrutiny.

As a consequence, Leigh were inspired to more determined effort which paid off, on twenty-six minutes, with Hanley’s try, virtually out of nothing, in the corner, eroding the Salford lead to four points.

Not for long, though, for within minutes of the restart, the Red Devils had stretched it even further, as a result of a great passing move involving both half backs.  Starting with Sneyd’s pass to him, Cade Cust showed how far their partnership has developed by pirouetting round and slipping the ball to the oncoming, man of the moment, Brierley, to zig-zag his way to the line, for his second try of the evening.

Even then there was still time for another score, this time from Ethan Ryan to mark his first try in a Salford jersey, on 35 mins, which Sneyd improved to notch up a 20-4 lead further underlining Salford’s dominance.

Oh, that that had been the end of events for the half, but unfortunately that was not the case, as things turned rather more sour for Brierley as he was sinbinned twenty seconds from time for a late tackle on Hanley which prevented the winger scoring, but with Lam kicking the resultant penalty.

A man down for the first nine minutes of the second half made for a rather fraught opening spell for the Red Devils, especially in the first couple of back-to-back sets, when the visitors threw the ball around with much greater sense of purpose and forced gaps in the Salford defence which they exploited, though, thankfully, without a score.

In fact, credit to them, the Salford players grew in stature throughout the remainder of the sinbinning, controlling possession and territory with fine game management, which continued throughout most of the remaining time, and they gained the rewards for this on 55 mins.

A long Leopards’ pass to the right wing went clearly forward, and from the resultant possession Sneyd crossed close to the posts thanks to Oli Partington’s incredible slipped pass backwards, whilst in the act of being tackled.

The restoration of their twenty-point lead seems possibly to have produced a sense of comfort to the Reds performance, which Leigh were quick to exploit five minutes later, and though Ryan’s second, 71st minute try in the corner extended their score to 32 points, it was sandwiched between two further scores by Hanley to complete his hat-trick on the back of a first from Lam on 60 mins, as the Leopards threw caution to the wind with slick, fast, entertaining handling to cross on 67 and 76 minutes.

Although making no difference to the actual outcome, the visitors’ ascendency, over the final quarter, did make for a scoreline which bore little resemblance to the greatest portion of the game, but hopefully this will sound as a warning to the Salford players of the importance of finishing teams off completely, whilst still in a position to do so.

BRIERLEY: “WE’RE GROWING IN OUR PHILOSOPHY AND OURSELVES”

Ryan Brierley says getting the good weather back will be a massive boost to his team as the season progresses.

Our star fullback scored twice against Leigh Leopards on his 300th appearance, as Salford Red Devils took the spoils on Rivals Round.

The second of his brace was a beautifully crafted move which involved three key members of the spine.

Marc Sneyd took command and skipped across the field, digging into the line before firing a pass to fellow half, Cade Cust.

Just as it looked like we were going to shift the play to our right edge, Cust smoothly played a reverse pass for Brierley to charge through, step Gaz O’Brien, and score.

It was a try with such quality, but looked so effortless in its execution.

Speaking to our YouTube channel post-match, Brierley believes the dry weather is helping his team clicking into gear, but also admits there are other parts of the game they need to improve going forward.

“I think the weather helps. We’re a team that relies on good weather, aren’t we. So it’s nice to get that back,” he began.

“We’re growing in our philosophy and ourselves throughout the season, we’ve changed the way we play a little bit – different personnel wanting different things and liking different things – but the willingness to defend at the moment is pretty special.

“We’re getting done on some system-type things, which is unusual for us. So we’ll certainly see where we’re at with it Monday morning because we probably conceded a fair few points there which are solvable.”

A trip to Castleford Tigers is next up for Brierley and co; a team they have already beaten once this season in Round 2.

With a trip to the capital also around the corner, Brierley knows there’s an important period coming up as we get stuck in to Spring’s schedule.

“For sure. It’s a weird one because I don’t think there’s a real trend in Super League yet,” he continued.

“It’s hard to figure out which are the top teams, which are the bottom teams. Looking at the games against Wigan and Saints, who are at the top of the table, we competed really well.

“Then we’ve struggled a bit against teams who have struggled. So that’s our own consistency we build on, but we’re not long into the season so I’m sure we’ll get better, as will every other team.”

To hear our full chat with Ryan, click here to head over to YouTube.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V WIGAN

It was always going to be a considerable challenge backing up that historic victory over St Helens, last week, after a forty-four year wait, against the current league leaders and World Club Champions, Wigan Warriors, because playing against teams of that calibre, with their extra size, power, speed and flair, really takes it out of opposing players.  It is not unusual for other sides to suffer a drop in their own performance, the week following an encounter with one or other of these two teams.

Salford, though, have been a real eye-opener so far this season, and it would be fair to say that Thursday evening’s fixture was between the two most in-form sides in Super League, and any doubters to that view must surely have had their opinions corrected by the Red Devils’ contribution to what proved to be a most high-class contest between the two sides.

One might say that this was almost unexpected because the Red Devils had suffered considerably from injuries and illnesses, prior to kick off.  Despite this it was Salford who settled the more quickly, taking advantage of a Wigan error in their first set.

From there, the first half ebbed and flowed, with first one side well-placed with both possession and field position, and then the other.  Two aspects of their attacks which both shared were their ability to transition smoothly from defence into attack, and then to follow this up with back-to-back sets from opposition’s touches, set-restarts, penalties and enforced goal-line drop-outs.

Consequently, the Warriors’ first set error, was followed by Chris Atkin making great progress upfield, followed by an excellent, Marc Sneyd end-of-set kick-in-goal, which brought them not only a goal-line drop-out, but a set-restart, too.

Little wonder, therefore, that after twelve minutes play it was Salford who had had by far the greater ascendency with Wigan being limited to occasional sets of possession, which gained them only temporary relief. 

That all changed, a minute later, when the Warriors were awarded a couple of penalties and then had two seven-tackle sets which, starting on their 20m line, enabled them to get much closer to the Red Devils’ line, and they, too, forced a goal-line drop-out for good measure.

The Reds’ defence, however, just as Wigan’s had been earlier, was equal to the task, but it was mid-half before the game settled into a cut and thrust arm wrestle, and the half hour before Salford were able to regain the ascendency and challenge sustainedly the Warriors’ goal-line defence, once again. 

It was, however, the lack of scoring opportunities, for both side, which, was the significant aspect of the half, with Salford’s most hopeful opportunity resulting, for the second game in succession, with Ryan Brierley in collision with Smith, whilst attempting to get to the ball to ground it between the post.

Just as it looked as though the teams would be leaving the field at half-time with a 0-0 draw on the cards, Wigan conjured up a well-placed grubber kick into the corner for left winger Marshall to ground the ball, which stood up beautifully into his arms for him, in the last minute, and put them four points ahead.

The second half, in total contrast to the first, whilst still retaining those protracted periods of ascendency, saw a total of four end in tries, all of which were converted.  First, it was the Warriors, who built upon two back-to-back sets near the Salford line, by sending out a wide pass to Miski on the right wing and put them in double figures.

Tries like that, either side of half-time, can so often kill a game off, with that team following up with even more, but not on this occasion.  Salford, despite this seeming setback, took the game by the scruff of the neck, and no less than three back-to-back sets ended with Sneyd’s marvellous kick-in-goal bringing a try under the posts for Sam Stone, on 50 mins.

Twelve minutes later, Sneyd repeated this feat, with another in-goal kick this time to the left edge, which Tim Lafae latched onto, to put the Reds ahead for the first time after Sneyd had landed the goal from well out.

Heartbreakingly, there was to be one final twist.  We all know that a dismissal or sin-binning can change the balance of the game – usually in the favour of the non-offending team – but on this occasion Smith’s sinbinning on 72 mins turned out to favour the visitors, who galvanised themselves to even greater effort to see the game through.

The match winner came on 75 mins when a Salford goal-line drop-out was taken with a clear run to the line after the Red Devils’ right edge had been sucked into contesting for the ball, and the Warriors still had time to cross again with French using his explosive running talent cut through to give the scoreboard a somewhat unrepresentative look.

So, two points might have been lost, but what the Red Devils have gained in terms of respect, both locally and across the whole of rugby league, could well turn out to be far more important, for have they not shown to everyone that they can live with, and match, the elite of Super League, not just on one-off occasions but week-in week-out, even in the adverse context of last night? Bring on the rest!

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: ST HELENS V SALFORD

Whilst it might be true that ‘everything comes to those who wait’, it has to be said that forty-four years is a considerable length of time to have waited –  half a lifetime, in fact – for that it is how long it had been since a Salford team has won away, at St Helens. 

On a total of forty-one occasions (the numerical discrepancy attributable to the Reds’ seasons out of the top flight and the pandemic on the one hand, and loop fixtures, cup ties if any, and play off games on the other) their fans have turned up at, first, Knowsley Rd, and later the Totally Wicked Stadium, with at least some measure of hope that their favourites would come up with a win, all to no avail as, on each of those occasions, the Saints extended their winning run with another victory.

Until last Friday, that is, when, at long last, it all came to an end.  Certainly, the travelling fans will have, once again, had some cause for optimism, with the Saints having produced a less than stellar performance, the previous week against Leigh, whilst Salford seem to have gelled together as a team far more quickly than many other Super League sides.

 That latter undoubtedly needed to be the case as the home side set to, to gain the ascendency from the outset, and the Red Devils needed all their defensive expertise to keep their line intact as wave after wave of onslaught was thrown at them.  On 6 mins, great tackling on Sironen succeeded in holding him up over the line, and then three minutes later, forced a Saints’ mid-set error, close to the Salford line.

Defending the line from a scrum, however, is much more problematic, with so few players in so much space, and in the tenth minute the Saints exploited that to send Welsby over for a crucially-unconverted try, with Dodd adding a second, eight minutes later.

Their ascendency was broken, almost immediately, thereupon,  by Marc Sneyd’s using the wind to hang the ball in the air from the kick-off, thereby causing havoc in the St Helens ranks and the Red Devils’ gaining some much-needed possession in good field position.

It was Salford’s turn now to turn on the pressure, and if there were evidence that they might, at any stage, steal the win, it was the way they then put the home defence to the sword testing it throughout the following ten minutes.  Three times they went close, once in the left-hand corner, immediately followed likewise by Kallum Watkins towards the right, both on 22 mins, and then two minutes later, a collision, which would have stood further video-referee scrutiny, with Walmsley denying Ryan Brierley the chance to get to the ball from a kick into the in-goal area.

Nevertheless, they got their just rewards on 24 mins, when Deon Cross scored in the left-hand corner to open the visitors’ account.  Saints might have had difficulty with their goalkicking, but with yet another one hundred percent record – three from the touchline – on its way, Sneyd reduced the arears to a mere two points.

Even so, Saints were to have the final say of the half, capitalising on a couple of Salford errors, to send Percival in under the posts, for a try which he then converted to restore the home lead to eight points.

It has been said that the 43rd minute dismissal of Percival was the turning point of the game, but that might be rather too simplistic, because little in the way of outcomes on the field actually changed, for a while.

Players are so used to temporary, ten-minute sin-binnings of opponents, which require them to make that period really count in terms of points on the board, but total dismissal is quite different enabling patience, composure, and pressure building, over a protracted period of time.

For the following fifteen minutes, however, the Salford players threw caution to the wind in their endeavours to score at virtually every play, and consequently rather than scores it was errors only, which accrued.

The actual turning point came, when, against all expectations, Dodd scored his second try, which this time he converted to open up a 20-6 lead.  This seemed to act as a wake-up call to Salford, and from the restart there appeared to be the determination to be error-free from that point on, and a focus on the aforementioned patience and composure saw them building up the most concerted pressure of the game.

Although St Helens were able to deal with this in the short term, so relentless did it become that it was only a matter of time before their line was to be breached, and it was the strength of Nene Macdonald which enabled him, on 65 mins, to twist round in a tackle on the try line to ground the ball, and restore the long-standing, yet overturn-able, eight-point margin.

Next, a touch-in-flight by Saints winger Bennison, gave the Reds a set restart, and after Salford been endeavouring to outflank their opponents on the edges throughout the game, St Helens were caught completely unawares, by Chris Atkin’s step back inside from first receiver, to go over between the posts, on 67 mins, and all but eliminate the St Helens lead.

Not quite, though, and it required one piece of absolutely brilliant handling by Tim Lafai, followed by equally clinical finishing by Cross for his second of the evening, to put the Red Devils ahead, for the first time in the game, on 74 mins.

By the time the teams had lined for the short kick-off, which was taken by St Helens, there was still three minutes remaining.  Salford fans’ thoughts might well have then wandered back to other such occasions when their hosts had snatched the game, at the death – most recently from Matty Smith’s post-hooter drop-goal, Regan Grace’s last minute try in the corner, and a controversial video-refereeing call of a try, which many thought might have been overturned for a double movement.

Not this time, however.  Try as they did to force their way over St Helens were held short on each occasion – Walmsley losing the ball in the tackle which halted their closest call –  and for the first time since 12th January, 1980, the Red Devils held on to win a game, which will stand proudly alongside their 1996 second round Challenge Cup victory over Wigan, in the minds of all Salford fans.

RYAN BRIERLEY NAMED SALFORD RED DEVILS VICE-CAPTAIN

We are thrilled to reveal Ryan Brierley has been named as a new vice-captain.

He joins the already established club captain, Kallum Watkins and other vice-captain, Marc Sneyd as part of a three-man leadership group.

Signing for his boyhood club in 2022, Brierley has quickly become a high-quality, reliable performer for the Red Devils, making a name as one of the best support players across the competition.

He was named Coaches and Supporters’ Player of the Year during 2023, in recognition of what was described by many as the best of his career so far.

On becoming a vice-captain, Brierley has said: “It is a privilege and a huge honour.

“I have always said Salford people are my people and that responsibility brings great pressure, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

“To lead this team behind Kallum and Sneydy, two players I’ve idolised and respected throughout my career, is the best possible start of learning impeccable leadership qualities.

“Hopefully we can have a successful season.”

Head Coach, Paul Rowley has also said: “It was a pleasure to make Ryan vice-captain of this club. It was a real sign of his progression as a person and leader.

“His development over his career as seen him go from a young lad, always the consummate professional, eager to learn and aspiring to emulate his heroes, to a man leading by his actions and using his experience and knowledge to guide others around him for the greater good.

“He as absolutely earned the right to represent his boyhood club and follow in the footsteps of many of Salford’s great players.”

To watch our full, in-depth chat with Ryan, click below.

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