RYAN BRIERLEY WINS AUGUST PLAYER OF THE MONTH

Ryan Brierley has been voted August’s Player of the Month.

One of our own has picked up the accolade for the second time this season, after winning the award in June for his stellar performances across the month.

August has been exactly the same for Brierley, who has shown on a consistent basis all season why he is one of the most underrated players across the whole division.

This month he has fought off competition from teammates, Ken Sio, Oliver Partington and Brad Singleton, who have all contributed to the teams’ success in the past few weeks.

In reaction to winning the award, Brierley has said: “I’m pleased to win Player of the Month award voted for by the fans, it’s always nice to be recognised.

“The season is still alive so we need your support more than ever Friday night!”

Got a question for Ryan? Head to our social channels to ask it and you may be featured in one of our upcoming videos.

A huge congratulations to Ryan for picking up the award for the second time this season!

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V WARRINGTON

It might have taken up to eighty-three minutes to get a result, but when it came the celebrations throughout the Salford stadium were comparable with having won a major trophy, as the Red Devils gained the two league points at the expense of the visiting Warrington Wolves, to go level with them on points, with only two games remaining.

Such was the importance of this particular fixture that the tension and intensity, prevalent throughout the match, led to rather more errors than might be expected at Super League level, yet on this occasion so closely matched were the two sides that these merely added to the excitement as to how the game would continue to unfold.  Twists and turns really do keep your concentration, and nerves, keyed up to the final whistle.

And when it eventually did come, what a tremendous way to secure the win – not with the anticipated drop-goal, but through a near length of the field, try of the match, which capped everything that had gone before, in terms of quality.  Slick hands moved the ball swiftly to the left wing, to put Joe Burgess in the clear.  That he was backed up the whole of the way by Sam Stone, a second row forward, was quite remarkable taking into account both the energy and pace needed to be in position to take the inside pass to score.

That it was the home side which had eventually taken the game was, in some respects, justice, for they had, on the whole, been the better of the two teams throughout, showing more ideas and organisation on attack, whilst defending their line, in particular, to greater effect.

This was evidenced in the three tries each team scored during the regular eighty minutes.  Warrington’s first two came from individual errors from our wingers, usually so reliable under the high ball, each dropping a keenly contested bomb giving the Wolves a dream start to each half.

Williams’s score between the posts, on 68 mins, was the one time they did successfully breech Salford’s goal-line defence, though, in fairness, there had been three occasions in the first half when their efforts were chalked off, the most noticeable being on the stroke of half time, when the video referee overturned the on-field decision to Thewlis’s grounding, in Salford’s favour.

In contrast, however, Ben Hellewell’s 22nd minute try came as a result of his beating his marker, in one of the quite few, man-on-man, line breeches in the whole game.  Then there was Brodie Croft, now coming back into the form he had shown to such dazzling effect last season.  His first, on 29 mins, followed two tremendous tackles, the first from Ryan Brierley on his opposite number Dufty, and then from the magnificent King Vuniyayawa and Chris Atkin which forced the ball out of the grasp of Ratchford.  Andy Ackers was on hand to collect it with next Atkin then sending out a wide pass to Croft in acres of space to score unopposed.

There was much more to his second, on 62 mins, than just a lucky ricochet.  Twice he put in short, low, end-of-set kicks to the Wolves’ line, the first of which forced a goal-line drop-out for a repeat set.  The second hit an opponent’s leg with Croft being easily the most alert person on the field to react by turning back on himself collecting the loose ball, and going over by the right-hand upright.

Salford too, had had a couple of disappointments, the first coming as early as the seventh minute, when a good attacking move to the right enabled Deon Cross to straighten up and go for the line, only for a first attempted tackle to be adjudged by the video referee as effective, owing to the fact that there was still contact between the defender’s hand and Cross’s foot as his ball carrying arm touched the ground.

All of which combined to make this a most riveting contest, of which both sides seemed to make heavy weather, in their endeavours to secure the points.  In the considerable heat of the day, however, it was the Salford players who always showed the greater desire and determination throughout and the fact that they had already had successful experience of Golden Point extra time, in their first home fixture with Wakefield, stood them in good stead for the final culmination.

Having to play extra time in the run up before another do-or-die encounter the following week, away at Hull KR, who had already had an extra two days’ recovery from their visit to Huddersfield, does not seem at all helpful, but such was the euphoria from, and the manner of, this win, that the boost it will have given the players, both jointly and individually, might just be enough to carry them through despite the adversities they face in the run-up to the game.  The fabulous support of our travelling fans will undoubtedly be a vital factor in keeping their spirits up throughout the encounter, so please all do get yourselves over there and make yourselves known, throughout.

AUGUST PLAYER OF THE MONTH NOMINEES REVEALED

It’s time for you to vote for your August Player of the Month…

With the Betfred Super League season almost over, it’s crunch time for Salford Red Devils in their pursuit of playoff rugby.

We have some big games coming up in September, but last month saw the Red Devils return to form after a six-game losing streak.

Despite a narrow loss to St Helens, we picked-up two massive wins over Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity to close out August.

Across that time, four players stood out above the rest.

Starting with new signing, Brad Singleton – who has taken to life at Salford by storm.

Since joining the club in mid-July, he has been a mainstay in Paul Rowley’s starting line-up and produced some stellar performances in the forward pack.

Next up is Oliver Partington.

It’ll come as no great shock to anyone to see the prop forward amongst the four candidates, after some high-quality minutes across the month.

After hitting 100 Super League tries and reaching 100 Salford Red Devils appearances last month, Ken Sio is your next nominee.

And last, but certainly not least, is Ryan Brierley.

He’s one of our own and continues to set the standard with some outstanding performances at fullback.

So, who gets your vote this month? Cast yours below!



2023 AUGUST PLAYER OF THE MONTH!

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RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V WAKEFIELD

Although there may have been recent games in which the Salford Red Devils have put in better performances than the one last Friday evening against Wakefield Trinity, the outcome in those was far less satisfactory than that of this one.  We would however all have given a great deal, on those occasions, to have been coming away with two more league points, as we were able to do, this time.

The acquisition of these two, on Friday, to go alongside the pair achieved the previous weekend at Huddersfield, could prove vital in building future momentum, and ultimately gaining a position in the top six play-offs.

And there were certain aspects of this game, which were quite noteworthy in themselves, not least the Salford defence.  The greatest ignominy one can inflict upon a team is to keep them totally scoreless, and this, the Red Devils achieved with some distinction.

There will be some discussion within the Wakefield ranks about the number of handling errors in their approach work, which spoiled their chances, but these were predominantly in the second half, as a consequence of the pressure the Reds had exerted upon them earlier, thereby unsettling their attacking rhythm and their nerves, as the game wore on.

The opening exchanges were, in stark contrast, most intensely fought with both sides going set for set in a quite fierce arm-wrestle for the first ten minutes, with the only break in play coming with Salford’s opening try.  Indeed, this apart, it had been proving to be the visitors who were getting the upper hand, pushing the Red Devils further and further to their own line, thanks to the power of their forward drives and long raking end-of-set kicks.

If there were one moment which typified the strength and resilience of the Salford defence, however, it came in the twenty-first minute, with a four-man, gang-tackle, by Sam Stone, Kallum Watkins Andy Ackers, and King Vuniyayawa on the mountain of a man which is David Fifita, driving him back. 

Of course, four men are always going to prove too much for any one person – including David Fifita – but it is the ability to get the four men in there, all together at the same time, which is the real achievement.  It was this and many other such defensive efforts which eventually led to the lacklustre Trinity attack, later in the game.

Scores, though, were at a premium to both sides.  Indeed, there seemed to be something of good fortune about each of the Reds’ trio of tries.  In tight games, it often proves to be the mis-pass which breaks a team’s defensive line as the players get sucked out of position so leaving gaps, and that is exactly what happened with Salford’s first. 

An intended pass went to ground but then stood up neatly into Kallum Watkins’s hands enabling him to go straight through the gap in front of him, and, with support on either side of him, he chose Ryan Brierley on his inside, who went the remaining distance to the posts.

How important taking every point was proving to be led to Marc Sneyd improving upon his three successful conversions to tries the last of which was from the touchline, with a penalty goal, on 28 mins.

Ackers probably felt most thankful to the Wakefield player who palmed the ball back to him, unmarked, from a short goal-line drop-out, for his 49th minute try.  The real credit for that, though, should go to the outstanding Vuniyayawa for his ferocious crash-tackle on a Wakefield ball-carrier, to force the drop-out, and even prior to that to the Salford kick-chasers for tying the Trinity onto their own line, for the start of their set.

The culminating, final, ninety metre, try of the match came as a result of Ken Sio’s getting in the way of a Wakefield pass and setting off on the journey to the other try-line, before selecting Brierley, yet again, to go over, this time, in the corner, with less than three minutes left.

A twenty-point victory is, in itself, impressive, but what was somewhat frustrating was the number of other opportunities which could have counted, but on this occasion evaded them, not least the wet ball squeezing out of Brodie Croft’s grasp as he sought to take control of it, over the try line, from a short kick.  On another night, many of these chances would probably have combined to go some way towards doubling their final tally.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: HUDDERSFIELD V SALFORD

A magnificent second half performance proved to be decisive in the Red Devils registering their first win since their victory over Castleford, back in early June, when they proved far too strong and, equally so, able to adapt in defeating the Huddersfield Giants.

So often in recent weeks fans have left games feeling a little disappointed after slender half time leads have been eroded by opponents as the second forty minutes has passed.  Not so on this occasion, however, with the visitors going from strength to strength, as the game unfolded.

There will have been little surprise, one would suspect, in the Salford ranks at this, with the strongest starting seventeen they have been able to field since the early rounds of the season, and only long-term absentee, Shane Wright, who would undoubtedly have claimed a spot in the team if fit, missing out.

From the very outset there was a sheer determination evident throughout the visitors’ ranks and they totally dominated the opening exchanges, with Huddersfield being put on the back foot throughout this period.  Indeed, Salford did cross for a couple of would-be tries, both of which were chalked off by referee, Liam Moore, and much against the run of play, it was the Giants who opened the scoring on 17 minutes, with a converted try.

This merely served to stiffen the Reds’ resolve, and, within three minute, they had erased it by means of Ryan Brierley’s steaming onto Brodie Croft’s impeccably delayed/timed pass to go over to the right of the posts, and although Huddersfield restored their lead by two points, it was incredible footwork from Sam Stone, following a great break by Andy Ackers, that put the Red Devils in front for the first time, on 32 minutes.

No-one was getting overly optimistic at half time, with the score line being one of the slenderest of recent weeks.  But the mood of the Salford players was unmistakable as they resumed for the second half, and with good reason: that fifteen minutes in the dressing room had determined a total change of tactics, which was to prove to be the undoing of their hosts, who had clearly done their homework on how to defend against Salford’s wide expansive handling moves.

This had proved to be quite effective in the first half, limiting the Reds to only their two tries.  The second half was to be quite different, however, with the boot of Marc Sneyd taking over.  Not only did he succeed with converting all of their five try total together with a late penalty after the hooter had gone, his tactical kicking opened up the home defence again and again.

The first came as early as the 42nd minute when a high kick was allowed to bounce and resulted in Ackers adding a second kick overhead for Stone to completely rock the Giants by grounding the ball a split second before it would have gone dead.

Not every kick brought a try but invariably brought rewards of a different variety, such as goal-line drop-outs, knock ons, and good field position.  One further one, though, did, with Ken Sio grounding in the corner for his long-awaited hundredth Super League try, while Chris Atkin put the icing on the cake after Kallum Watkins and Deon Cross had reminded us of just how good the Reds can be with ball in hand.

What will probably have pleased the coaching staff particularly was the fact that they conceded not a single point after the interval and the Giants had to be content with their one solitary try and couple of goals from the first forty.  Not that they did not come close on a couple of occasions, but the Salford defence was equal to each, with last ditch tackles denying them when it looked for all the world that they would score.

So the drought of league points has been brought to an end, and this could be just the victory that will ultimately prove to be the one which turns the season around.  It was certainly one of their best all round performances and for the full eighty minutes.

JUNE PLAYER OF THE MONTH NOMINEES REVEALED

It’s time for you to vote for your June Player of the Month…

The Red Devils started the month with a bang and picked up two fantastic victories over Hull KR and Castleford Tigers.

In a close encounter at Magic Weekend, Brodie Croft was the star of a 26-16 victory.

That result was followed by a stunning, attacking display at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle, where we scored eight tries and moved within two points of the top.

With injuries in the squad at a crucial time, our progress has been slightly halted as of late.

We were eliminated from the Betfred Challenge Cup by Hull KR and suffered back-to-back Betfred Super League defeats against Wigan Warriors and Wakefield Trinity.

However, four names have been standout performers for Paul Rowley’s squad across the month of June.

Starting with Ryan Brierley, who has been nominated for a fourth consecutive month.

His consistency at fullback is a pivotal part of our spine and he is so often a driving force behind some of our best performances this season.

As is the skipper, Kallum Watkins – our second nominee.

A natural centre in the second-row, the England international continues to show his class on a week-by-week basis.

The return of Ken Sio was a welcome boost to the team last month. He scored two excellent tries against Castleford and reminded everyone why he is one of the most prolific wingers in the league.

Chris Atkin – who signed a contract extension last month – is our final nominee and Mr Versatile has been called upon in multiple positions, yet again this month.

Most notably, he finished a stunning breakaway try at Magic Weekend to secure the two points.

So… who gets your vote? Let us know by voting in the poll below!


2023 JUNE PLAYER OF THE MONTH!

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RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V WIGAN

After a month’s absence from their home venue at the Salford Stadium, the Red Devils returned from their travels, on Sunday last, to entertain the Wigan Warriors, in what turned out to be, since their move there, a record attendance of spectators, for this Round 16 encounter.

It must have felt like an extremely bold step for the Directors to target, publicly, the breaking of the previously existing record, but by so doing it pioneered the way for the newly publicly owned club to draw on its resources of bodies around the town to rally round and help drive up the numbers to ensure a successful outcome in this respect.

It was not only the attendance, however, which marked the occasion, as a whole-day event had been planned to celebrate both the first home fixture under the new ownership and also Armed Forces Day, which culminated with a triple shot from a cannon at the northwest corner of the ground, thereby rousing the assembled multitude to greater excitement than ever.

And so, even before a ball had been kicked, the day had proved to be a considerable success and significant occasion for all those present, for which every single person involved in its inception and organisation deserves the utmost praise and gratitude.

For a game against such a side as the mighty Warriors and on such a special occasion, however, the side would really have preferred not to have had two members of its spine missing through injury, as was the case with both Andy Ackers and Brodie Croft.  Not that that reflects in any way upon their replacements, Amir Bourouh and the versatile Chris Atkin, who both slotted in smoothly at hooker and half back, respectively.

To then lose a third member of that crucial spine, in Ryan Brierley from the fullback role, on 35 mins, however, was a blow which really took its toll alongside the others, and it was probably as a result of the reorganization necessitated by this that led to the visitors snatching a half time lead from the grasp of the reshuffled Salford side, three minutes from the interval.

Every minute of that first half, though, had been keenly contested, set-for-set, throughout the full forty-minutes, with the Red Devils standing up magnificently to the Wiganers throughout the first quarter of the game, with solid defence and strong carries forward.

It was, therefore, as late as the 21st minute, before the Warriors opened the scoring with an unconverted try, after a sustained period of pressure brought about by repeat sets on the back of goal-line drop-outs and occasional Salford touches of the ball.  It is testament to the Salford players that they were able to repel the attack for as long as they had done.

Despite having had some early pressure of their own, though, the Red Devils had not really had sufficient field position to ask many questions of the Wigan defence, but then produced their best attack of the half when fine interplay down the left between Joe Burgess, Brierley, and Tim Lafai, took them into their opponents twenty metre area. 

An obliging penalty helped them remain a little bit longer down there, and after Ken Sio had gone close to scoring, the ever-improving Ben Helliwell put himself in a great position to receive Marc Sneyd’s slick pass and go over for their one try of the game, which, with Sneyd’s conversion, put them in front.

Having had the half-time break in which to restructure and regalvanise the side after the loss of Brierley, the Reds went straight into the attack, and good handling forced a most promising-looking overlap, on 43 mins, only for a rather wild pass into touch to scupper the opportunity, when simple one-to-on passing might well have turned the game in their favour.

As it was, a Salford handling error, three minutes later saw Wigan draw further ahead with a try direct from the ensuing scrum, with two more scores coming at ten to twelve minute intervals, to stretch the score beyond the hopes of the Red Devils.

They nevertheless still continued to take the game to Wigan in the last ten minutes but so well-drilled is the Warriors’ defence that they were prepared to concede set-restarts, which would once have brought a penalty, right throughout the game, thus nullifying the Salford attack, until six minutes from the end, when another missed opportunity, this time on the left, was lost with a poor final pass to Burgess, who would have had a walk in.

Looking back on the second half, unlike the visitors who were clinical in their finishing, it was the Reds’ failure to capitalise on those two scoring opportunities which gave the final score such a significant difference.  Even had only one of them brought a try it would have put them into double figures, whilst scoring both and with conversions would have put them within a somewhat more creditable eight points.

Disappointing a result as it was, though, it could in no way detract from the impressive event the club had turned the day into being.  It is an occasion when everyone could feel proud to have been involved with the club and to have been in attendance to savour and enjoy it.

MAY PLAYER OF THE MONTH NOMINEES REVEALED

It’s time for you to vote for your May Player of the Month…

We’ve hit the halfway point in the Betfred Super League season and Paul Rowley’s side are well amongst a tightly-contested pack near the top.

May was a hugely successful month for the Red Devils. They kicked it off with a rare win at Headingley against Leeds Rhinos, before narrowly losing to the World Champions, St Helens a week later.

Our Betfred Challenge Cup journey got underway with an impressive attacking showing against Huddersfield Giants; setting up a crunch clash with Hull KR in the quarter-final.

And last, but certainly not least, a 29-22 home victory against an inform Hull FC to close out the month.

It was a real, strong team effort across the month, but three players stood out above the rest.

The first is full-back, Ryan Brierley, who has earned his third consecutive nomination.

Our number one has been near-flawless in both defence and attack, contributing heavily to everything we’ve achieved this season, let alone last month.

As has our second nominee, Marc Sneyd.

Records just keep continuing to tumble for our prolific number seven and his kicking game – unsurprisingly – has been the difference in a lot of games this season.

The final nominee is the aptly nicknamed ‘Mr Versatile’, Chris Atkin, who has been in flying form across April.

His ability to play multiple positions has been vital for the squad and his selflessness to play a multitude of different roles has often been highlighted by our Head Coach.

We also recently had the extremely positive news that our number 14 has committed his long-term future to the club – keeping him in Red and White until 2025.

So… who gets your vote? Let us know by voting in the poll below!

2023 MAY PLAYER OF THE MONTH!

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RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V HULL FC

After the excitement of several recent games, Salford supporters must surely be becoming used to being kept on the edge of their seats with the closely run encounters that have become almost regular occurrences, at least at the Salford Stadium.

From the Golden Point extra time victory over Wakefield, back in March, to last week’s progression to the next round of the Challenge Cup at the expense of Huddersfield when time was really the Red Devils’ greatest ally, the Salford players have had to hang on in, on a number of occasions, and this weekend’s clinching of the double over Hull was of very similar ilk.

The major issue nowadays is that the Reds are quite regularly winning this sort of game, which has not been the case on so many previous occasions, and that is something worth celebrating in itself.

Once again, on Sunday afternoon there were many teeth-clenching moments, particularly as the last quarter of the game wore on, because the visitors had shown themselves quite capable of scoring when they had the opportunity.  Indeed, they had done so as early as the fourth minute, when they broke from deep in their own half to go the remaining length of the field with impressive handling and support play, to score in manner reminiscent of many a Salford try.

And thereby possibly hangs the reason for the closeness of so many matches.  It would seem that a number of other sides, for whom wide expansive rugby has hitherto been kept to a premium, are now chancing their arm by embracing this style of attacking play to suit their own strengths.  Such slick, well-rehearsed ploys are extremely difficult to defend against, as Super League teams in abundance discovered last season, and now the Red Devils are having to contend with such, themselves.

There is no gainsaying the originals, however, as Salford players continue to increase their armoury with even more options, as shown by their third and possibly decisive try, three minutes before the interval.  That final spell of ten minutes had proved to be a purple patch for the home side, when they overturned the second of two, Hull, four-point leads both of which they held for eleven minutes, this one being with a scoreline of 6-10.

A number of repeated, short sets then enabled the Red Devils to build pressure before a Brodie Croft kick-through was taken by Deon Cross for a converted try, which restored their dominance.  It was their second score of this period, however, which, for we spectators, stood out from everything else.  What we saw was a seventy-metre kick downfield, followed by a thrilling and closely contested chase.

What we had to reflect upon before appreciating it fully was the skill, talent and understanding among the players.  Few of us, probably, were expecting anything along these lines when the ball was passed to Marc Sneyd direct from the base of the scrum. Yet everyone of those involved knew exactly what was about to happen; everyone was on the same page.  With all of the defending Hull players lined up at the scrum, the opportunity was wide open for the attempt.

Our number seven’s kicking game is much admired, and feared, throughout the league, but to place the ball so impeccably for it to slow almost to a standstill between the Hull try and dead-ball lines from such a distance took incredible skill, not to mention hours of practice.

The undoubted strength of the Salford team is the pace they have in the backs, and it was the ability of the two chasers, Ryan Brierley and Joe Burgess both, to outpace the sole Hull covering defender, showed that off to the hilt.  Brierley it was, perhaps for some, surprisingly so, who was first to the ball, but it still needed grounding cleanly, and doing that at such speed required even more from the fullback.  It would have been so easy to have scotched the chance, going at such a pace.

That try, and how it came about, put a whole different perspective on the game, and on Salford’s ability to score from a variety of means.  Short, kick-chase tries often seem a little innocuous when compared to skilful handling moves and cleverly angled running.  The thrill and excitement, talent and skill, as a result of the distance involved in this one, however, made it comparable to any score, by whatever means.  It will certainly cause a few more headaches among opposing defences.

Being involved in so many close games is certainly honing the Red Devils’ talent for managing the game in the final quarter, and it is this, which, despite our anxieties in the stands, enables them to concentrate on nullifying their opponents’ further opportunities, something that they were far better at, this week, than the previous one.

Consequently, two second half tries kept them ahead, albeit on a couple of occasions by only two points, after a worrying start to the half, and then, after twice missing his first goalkicks in five games Sneyd calmly slotted over a drop-goal to give the side a two score cushioning, which kept them comfortable to the final whistle.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: ST HELENS V SALFORD

It had all looked so promising, and confidence was surely high among the Salford fans, as they travelled over to the Totally Wicked Stadium for their clash with the Saints, on the back of four successive Super League victories, including an extremely rare win over Leeds Rhinos, at Headingley.

The Saints, on the other hand, had had a rather less profitable couple of weeks, and were turning out after having undertaken the somewhat demanding sojourn to the south of France, for their away fixture with Catalans Dragons, all of which were most positive indications for everyone to be encouraged.

 In the end, however, it is all about what happens on the day, and that went contrary to these optimistic expectations, for the Saints had their own expectations and aspirations for the game – the expectations of the current World Club Champions to perform to that level – and took control in the second half to record a 26-12 home victory.

Not that anyone would have even thought that that would happen as the Red Devils turned on the style and swept into a twelve-point lead after only sixteen minutes, with two excellent tries.  The first came in the fifth minute when a totally unexpected, but magnificent, break by prop, King Vuniyayawa, left the Saints defence in his wake, and with the fleet-footed Brodie Croft in support, he fed the stand -off to go in, under the posts.

Andy Ackers it then was, who, eleven minutes later, put Kallum Watkins away down the right and his inside pass to Ryan Brierley saw, along with Marc Sneyd’s second successful conversion attempt, him double the Salford advantage to twelve, which was sufficient for the remaining twenty plus minutes to give them a 6-12 half time lead.

The second half turn around to the home team might lead anyone to regard this as a game of two halves but perhaps, on this occasion an over-simplification, because everything in a game leads on to what follows – more obviously to the more immediate, but also, to an extent, in the longer term.  The loss, for example, of Shane Wright, after a mere few minutes of his introduction denied the team all that he has brought to each game over recent weeks, and also meant that others had to play considerably more minutes, and therefore tired far more quickly as a result.

In fact the roots for this not inconsiderable half time turnaround had been planted during the first half.  There will have been few in attendance or watching tv, on the day, who would have thought, as Sneyd struck the ball to convert Brierley’s try that the Red Devils would fail to add to their score for the remainder of the match, but that was what happened and was something that fed into the St Helens game plan

The visitors had been put under spells of pressure from the outset right through to their first score, and then again between their two tries.  The Salford players had stood up well throughout each of these, as indeed they did throughout some rather more-lengthy spells thereafter, but the fact that these periods of Saints’ dominance became more protracted placed greater and greater demands on the players in terms of energy and concentration.

That these periods soaked up so much time was in part due to the St Helens players’ ability to complete their sets but aided by an increasing number of penalties and set restarts, which went the way of the home side.  Penalties are seldom awarded against teams in possession, the significant  majority are against defenders and, as these defenders start to tire, so their tackling technique suffers and the penalties continue to accrue all the more.

By the time the second half had got underway, the continued Saints’ pressure had started to tell on the Reds, and they immediately conceded yet another penalty, this time whilst in possession, for an incorrect play-the-ball, as early as the third tackle of the half, with a St Helens try coming directly off the back of it.

No-one could possibly question the Red Devils’ effort and commitment at any time during the encounter – without that there was no way they would have limited St Helens to only twenty-six points – but, in the second half, their execution was well below the standards we have become used to, with handling errors from some most wayward of passes seemingly prevalent, and each one presenting the home side with even more possession with which to challenge the Salford defence.

Forthcoming results may well show that in this match St Helens have turned a corner in their season, and that others will find themselves facing the same onslaught of pressure piled upon them, but for Salford players it is important to learn from the outing and fix the elements necessary for a Challenge Cup victory over visiting Huddersfield, next week.

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