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.




Even after his final departure from the Willows, in 1983, it turned out that there was still a considerably lengthy role left for him as a player, with Runcorn Highfield (formerly Liverpool City, and Huyton), in the second division.

A chance meeting with Geoff Fletcher, a former prop forward with Leigh, Oldham, and Huyton of whom he had become coach, later moving with them to Runcorn in the same capacity, led to Eric’s being invited to join the playing staff, there.

“It was a little different from what I had been used to with Salford, Saints, and Widnes, but I soon settled in and we did really well at the start.  We won the first seven games, and became top of the league, for a while, as a result.

“This, however, caused some significant problems, as we found out when Geoff Fletcher came into the dressing room and told us that we couldn’t win any more matches as the club couldn’t afford to pay us any more winning money!

“Not that we allowed that to influence our performances out on the field.  I, for one, always wanted to win every game I played in, and that never changed, irrespective of whether there was any significant money available at the end of it.”

Despite all the uncertainties which went with playing for Runcorn, who later changed their name solely to Highfield as a consequence of one final move more, this time to the Prescot area, Eric stayed with them right through to 1989, when he eventually played his last professional game, against Keighley, thereby bringing down the curtain on an incredible twenty-year playing career.  In that time, he had played over 570 games, a feat of which he is most justifiably proud.

“There are not many players will be able to that nowadays, because it is all so very different, but I enjoyed playing no matter who it was for.  It was just great, and I wish I could still be playing now.

“I still watch the game on TV, and I do go to matches.  In recent years I have been to the Lance Todd Trophy Presentation Dinner, as well as attending the seventieth birthday celebration of Steve Nash, at a Salford home game, a few seasons ago.”


Salford Red Devils fell to a 28-0 defeat at the hands of St. Helens in tonight’s Betfred Super League Round 6 contest at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

After a promising start, the Red Devils went into the break only six points down after an Alex Walmsley try for the hosts.

However, Kristian Woolf’s side came out with more flare in the second forty, putting a further four tries past Marshall’s men.

Salford had control of the game in the early periods, forcing errors from the Champions that allowed Marshall’s side to ramp up the pressure and were unlucky not to go over a number of times in the opening minutes.

Andy Ackers, who had just returned from an ankle injury, left the field after two minutes due to a head collision and Marshall’s first choice hooker was sidelined for the rest of the game.

Saints then took control of the arm wrestle and took the lead in the 23rd minute, Walmsley powering over the line to the right of the sticks for what was the only try of the first forty.

Half time: St. Helens 6-0 Salford Red Devils

The hosts built on their lead three minutes into the second half but this time it was Saints’ Man of the Match, Theo Fages, who went over down the left wing.

On the hour mark, Kevin Naiqama, who almost ran the length of the field a few minutes earlier, grounded the ball in the right corner to add to the scoreboard for top-of-the-table St. Helens.

Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook extended his side’s lead in the opposite corner seven minutes later and his teammate, Regan Grace, also went over down the left just before the hooter to solidify a Saints victory.

Full time: St. Helens 28-0 Salford Red Devils

St. Helens: Coote, Naiqama, Welsby, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Thompson, Mata’utia, Knowles, Amor, Paasi, Smith, Batchelor.

Salford Red Devils: Sarginson, Sio, Watkins, Costello, Williams, Lolohea, Brown, Mossop, Ackers, Burke, Greenwood, Lannon, Taylor, Pauli, Atkin, Ikahihifo, Ormondroyd.

St. Helens tries: Walmsley, Naiqama, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Grace

St. Helens goals: Coote (3/4)

Referee: Liam Moore

Image Credit: Steve McCormick


Salford Red Devils fell to a 29-6 defeat to champions St. Helens in the first game of the 2021 Betfred Super League season. 

The season opener at the Emerald Headingley Stadium was Richard Marshall’s first Super League test as Salford’s head coach, with five debutants featuring in tonight’s defeat for the Red Devils.

Tommy Makinson opened the scoring for Saints within two minutes, collecting a chipped kick and grounding the ball in the right corner.

Saints’ Regan Grace slid over on the left wing five minutes before half-time to extend his side’s lead, with Jack Welsby scoring a drop-goal right on the hooter to make it 13-0 at the interval.

Half-time: St. Helens 13-0 Salford Red Devils

Image credit: Steve McCormick

Salford came out looking sharper in the second forty and got themselves on the scoreboard in the 55th minute.

Tui Lolohea found Ken Sio on the right wing with an outrageous pass, setting his teammate up to stroll over with ease for our first try of the 2021 season.

Saints responded five minutes later through Mark Percival, who rose to collect a Theo Fages kick before touching the ball down.

Two more tries in the final 10 minutes from Kevin Naiqama and Alex Walmsley confirmed defeat for Marshall’s men in their first runout of 2021.

Fulltime: St. Helens 29-6 Salford Red Devils

St. Helens: Welsby, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Thompson, Bentley, Mata’utia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Paasi, Smith.

Salford Red Devils: Sarginson, Sio, Watkins, Kear, Inu, Lolohea, Brown, Mossop, Addy, Ikahihifo, Livett, Lannon, Taylor, Pauli, Ormondroyd, Wells, Patton.

Saints tries: Makinson, Grace, Percival, Naiqama, Walmsley.

Saints goals: Makinson (4/6)

Saints drop-goals: Welsby

Salford tries: Sio

Salford goals: Inu

Referee: Liam Moore

Image credit: Steve McCormick

Watkins – “We can go there and get the job done”

Salford Red Devils’ Kallum Watkins believes Salford can rise to the challenge of St Helens ahead of their Round 1 clash with the reigning champions on Friday.

The England centre, who joined his boyhood club back in September, thinks the Red Devils have every reason to be confident that they can take victory from Saints in the opening round of the Betfred Super League.

Following a promising pre-season, a strong start to the campaign will be key to fulfilling Watkins’ wider ambition to bring silverware to the The Salford Stadium.

Watkins said: “It is exciting, you have got to take it as a challenge.

“For us, it has been a really good pre-season and we are confident that we can go into Friday and win.

“We are going up against the champions, there is no two ways about it, they are champions for a reason, they are a quality side and they have been the best side for the past two/three years.

“We have got a good squad, we have just got to believe in ourselves as a group that we can go there and get the job done.”

Watkins, who started in the 2017 World Cup final for England, is also harbouring aspirations that he will return to the international fold and knows that delivering key performances for Salford will be crucial to that.

“I want to be consistent in my game and make sure I am preparing as best as possible,” he explained.

“In terms of recovery, there is going to be times where we are playing a few games in a short space of time.

“I want to be successful with this club, I want to win trophies and I want to build on the ambition of what they want to achieve.

“Obviously with the World Cup coming up as well and the last time I played in an England shirt was the World Cup Final.

“Injury and performance has pushed that aside over the years so that is another goal for me to go for but I have got to prove that by putting my all on the field.”

Salford Red Devils’ Betfred Super League season opener kicks off at 6pm tomorrow evening at the Emerald Headingley Stadium, live on Sky Sports and on Our League for season ticket holders.

Written by: Will Dickson

Season opener promises to be solid test for Marshall’s men

Salford Red Devils head coach Richard Marshall is looking forward to an “exciting time for the club” ahead of the 2021 Betfred Super League opener against St Helens on Friday.

Marshall will take charge of his first competitive game since becoming head coach at the The Salford Stadium, with a mouth-watering clash in store against back-to-back champions Saints.

And following a successful pre-season, capped off with a win against 2020 Grand-Finalists Wigan Warriors, the Red Devils boss is pleased with what he has seen from his players.

Marshall said: “I have been welcomed with open arms.

‘There has been a lot of changes at the club, obviously coaches, staff, players. But with change comes freshness, new ideas and invigorated players.

“We have had a wonderful pre-season, getting to know the group, the strengths, the weaknesses, where we can improve as a team and being collaborative in our approach to the game.

“This is a new team, we will probably have six or seven players making their debut for the club on the weekend and it will take time for us to gel as a team – learn each other’s nuances – but at the same time we just want to throw them out there and go against the best team in the country.

“I’m looking forward to improving each and every individual at this club.”

Whilst the Red Devils face a tough task against the reigning champions, Marshall is eagerly anticipating the challenge that lies ahead.

“We want to improve on last year,” stated Marshall.

“We know it will be difficult against St Helens but at the same time it is a challenge we are going to relish.

“Going up against the current champions on Friday is really exciting and we are looking forward to that challenge.”

You can support Marshall and his men in 2021 by purchasing a season ticket HERE, or by phoning the ticket office on 0161 786 1570.

Rewatch our 12-10 victory the last time we played Saints on RDTV.

Written by: Will Dickson

Head coach happy with selection headache ahead of season opener

Salford Red Devils head coach Richard Marshall is relishing the headache of nailing down a 17-man squad for the season opener against St. Helens next week. 

Marshall was impressed by his side’s performance during Salford’s pre-season friendly against Wigan Warriors, with the focus on players improving their all-round game and playing outside of their comfort zone.

Speaking after the friendly win, Marshall said: “We’ve looked at a certain amount of players in different positions today.

“We don’t want to look at people and pigeonhole and stereotype. We want players who are multi-faceted – can offload, can step off both feet, can pass both ways, and can tackle off both shoulders.”

Marshall has been testing his team in different positions to also help each player understand the role and importance of another.

“That’s how we’ve practised and how we’ve trained. Sometimes the players think you’re bonkers moving people around and practising,” Marshall added.

“But in my experience if you’re trying to develop a team, you have to understand and have an empathy of what other players in other positions have to do.

“When you get that empathy within there, I think it really galvanises you as a team.”

With Salford opening the 2021 Betfred Super League campaign a week on Friday against Saints, Marshall’s focus now turns to the difficult task of selecting his squad to face the reigning champions.

“We’re not quite sure but what we do know is that we’ve got players who can play in multiple positions.

“What a great dilemma for us as coaches to have.”

Get behind your Red Devils in 2021 and buy yourself a season ticket here.

Costello all set for Saints season opener

Salford Red Devils’ Matty Costello is looking forward to coming up against his old side St. Helens, in the 2021 Betfred Super League season opener in three weeks time. 

Costello, who can play as a fullback, winger or centre, joined from Saints towards the end of 2020, linking up with head coach Richard Marshall who also arrived at the The Salford Stadium from St. Helens.

In what could be his first competitive game in a Salford shirt, the 22-year-old is excited to come up against some familiar faces.

Costello said: “It’ll be good playing against all my mates. I keep in touch with a lot of them.

“It’ll be good to come up against them, I’m sure they’ll give it me and I’ll give it them back.”

The 22-year-old spent plenty of time working with Richard Marshall during his time at Saints, who was assistant head coach at the Totally Wicked Stadium, and has transferred their good relationship over into the Salford camp.

“Rich worked a lot with us and he’s definitely improved my game in certain areas,” Costello said.

“We had a good relationship at Saints and it’s just the same. It’s just Rich is the main man now, the man to answer to, and I think he’s doing a really good job and the rest of the lads do as well.”

With a squad packed with talent for 2021, Costello’s main focus as we approach the start of the season is to be in and around that starting lineup.

Costello added: “I have the goal to play as many games as I can and be in around the squad to help where I can.

“Hopefully, we’ll be successful this year.”

Despite the excitement of lining up against his old side soon, Costello is looking forward to the return of fans in May the most.

“It’ll be good to play at Salford with the fans. Whenever I’ve played at the AJ Bell it’s been really loud and a tough place to go so lets keep it the same.”

In the meantime, you can watch Costello and your Red Devils in action against Wigan Warriors on Sunday 14th March in a preseason friendly, via Our League. Match day passes can be purchased here for an early bird price of £4.95.


Salford’s former long-serving second row forward, Bill Sheffield, relates memories of his rugby league career.






                                                          Part 1 – HIS EARLY CAREER

Hailing, as he does from St Helens, Bill Sheffield found it very easy to become a supporter of the Saints, on account of the fact that the very first game he ever attended was watching them play in their 13-2 Challenge Cup Final triumph over Halifax, at Wembley, in 1956.

“My father was an avid supporter of St Helens and after that first introduction to the game, I became as big a fan as he was.  I played a bit of rugby at school, but, in those days, they didn’t seem to have a lot of competitive games.”

Indeed, it was not until he left school and took up work in a local garage, that, as a result of three of his colleagues there, Frank Barrow, Dickie Evans and David Harrison, playing for the Saints, Bill started to go with them at lunchtime into the local park, for a throw about with a ball.

“It was Dickie who really encouraged me to go to St Helens, which I did, and being only sixteen, I was put into the ‘C’ team, which was for under seventeens.  I had never really played in a competitive game before, but there were some very good coaches there at that time, who gave me a lot of advice and encouragement, and so I made my way through into the ‘B’ team for under nineteens.

“We had a really successful side that year playing in four finals, two of which we won.  Twelve of the lads were actually signed by St Helens. Not all of them made it through to the first team, but people like Alan Bishop, Joe Robinson and Les Jones all became top-flight players.

“We used to train twice a week in the evenings because of course we all had jobs, with the games being played on the Saturday afternoon.  That was the case for almost every club, and it wasn’t until I came to Salford that I first  experienced Friday night rugby.

“I spent two seasons continuing my progress through the ‘A’ team, and then, aged twenty, got the opportunity to make my debut in the first team.  It was the televised 1969 Champions v Cup Holders game, away at Castleford, following their Wembley victory over Salford, with St Helens having finished the season as Champions.

“I had gone with the team as travelling reserve, and not expecting to play at all, but prop, Cliff Watson, went down with a very bad migraine, which led to me being drafted into the team at second row, alongside Eric Prescott.  Part way through the second half I surprised everyone by taking the ball up and breaking through before rounding the fullback to score.”

Players’ contracts, in those days were primarily around their signing on fee, which in Bill’s case was a thousand pounds – a most substantial amount at that time – alongside weekly wage details, but, unlike today’s contracts of two to three seasons duration, players back then signed for life!  Or not, as Bill was shortly to discover.

“I was at the ground one day, part way through my first season, and was sent for by the Chairman, who informed me that Rochdale were interested in me, and that St Helens were keen on a player exchange deal involving Kelvin Earle, who had twice been on Challenge Cup winning teams, and upon leaving Saints at the end of his first stint there, had gone to Bradford where he had won yet another medal.”

Rochdale, at that time were one of the lowly sides in the league, so for Bill it was very much a case of one extreme to the other, but not always the way round that one might have expected.

“At Saints we had to provide all our own training kit, including our own boots.  I even had to share boots and running spikes with one of the other players because neither of us could afford both.  When I went to Rochdale, though we were really well looked after, with everything we needed, including new boots, being provided,”

On the field, however, things were nowhere near as good.

“We went to Hunslet for the last match of the season, where one time great, Geoff Gunney, by this time in his forties, won the man of the Match award, and we were well beaten.  Fortunately, during the close season there was a change of coach, with the renowned international centre, Frank Myler, coming in, which led in turn to the signing of a number of better quality players.

“Frank then moulded that group into a really good team, which, within a relatively short period of time, ended up in both the John Player and the BBC2 Floodlit Cup Finals, in the 1972/3 season.  So, after that initial set back, I ended up having a couple of really good years with them, and I have had a great deal of time for Rochdale, ever since.

“En route to the Floodlit Cup Final, we had to play Salford at the Willows, in the semi-final, on a rather unpleasant evening in the depth of winter.  The pitch, in those days held water quite badly and the middle even had to be covered with sand.  The Salford backs were all speedsters but on that quagmire, they couldn’t make any impression on us, and we controlled the game extremely well.

“Warren Ayres, our centre, had a superb match, and ran in two crucial tries, to take us through to the final against St Helens.  I’d played against the Saints a couple of time since leaving, but this time it was going to be in a cup final.

“Whenever you return to a former club, you always have a certain extra keenness about you to do well, but, on this occasion, it was the crowd that really got onto me as they always used to with one of their former players, and it was that which geed me up all the more so.  We didn’t win but were extremely unlucky to lose 5-2, because we had a try disallowed for an alleged knock on, but I wish we had had a video referee that afternoon to have checked it out.”


David Clegg Gets The Views Of U19s Head Coach, Garreth Carvell, As They Prepare For Thursday’s Home Game Against St Helens
With a total of hundred points, in only two matches, this must have been the sort of start to his coaching career of which U19s Head Coach, could only have dreamed, though of course the fact that these opening encounters have been against the RFL Development Areas of Cumbria and North East, has been of help.
You can only beat what is put in front of you, however, and the Red Devils have certainly done that in style, over the past two weeks.
“The final scores have definitely done the boys justice,” Garreth acknowledges, “though in both games they have been rather patchy in the opening minutes.  Once we got the message through to them about what they needed to do, it was a different game.  It was as if they were a completely different team, on both occasions.”
His main aim is that the players have been learning from these games, and with St Helens the visitors this coming Thursday, there will not be any room for an indifferent start, this week.
“Although we have played against two physical teams, we have been able to get away with things that we would not have got away with against Super League opposition, and that’s the adjustment we have to make,” he professes.
So, despite the short turn around, the identification of faults,and working on correcting those is paramount, ahead of this next, much sterner, test.
“We could be on the end of a hiding after the first twenty minutes, if we do not get a much better start, this time,” he predicts.  “It’s important that we start really well, and that is something that we’ll be drilling into them, this week.”
Certainly, confidence will not be in short supply, come the kick-off, having rattled up so many points, and with only one unconverted try conceded, to date.
“It definitely looks as though we can score tries, so that will stand them in good stead,” he concedes, “and you get a good feeling from winning, that also helps.  It breeds confidence and belief, and that will be something for the lads to grasp on to for this next tougher challenge.
“We have built ourselves some momentum, and now we are up against an opposition against whom we can start gauging ourselves.  We’re really looking forward to the game.”
A couple of totally new faces have been in evidence, in the two previous fixtures.  Stand off, Jon Whttaker, and winger, Jake Knox, have both come on trial, and have both been among the try scorers in one or other of the matches.
“Jake has joined us from Leigh, after their U20s folded,” Garreth explains.  “He had been contracted to them for three years so they obviously believed he had potential, as indeed we do. He has a lot to learn, but that is part of our job as coaches.  He took his try scoring chance, on Saturday, really well.
“After his first game against Cumbria, Jon came off the bench, on Saturday, and he controlled the game really well, then.  It has been a big step up for him, as he had only played amateur rugby before, but he can play several positions, and he clearly gained a lot of confidence from his first game.”
With the first team not playing until Sunday, therefore, this is possibly the first opportunity that many will have had of watching the new look U19s, so a good following would undoubtedly boost the players for what is their first really big challenge.   Interesting as the result of any encounter is, at this level the prime focus is the development of the players, who, one day, will be in a position to pull on the first team shirt.
Match Officials:
Referee – Mr J Callaghan
Touch Judges – S Houghton, A Williams
Venue: The Enclosure, A J Bell Stadium                       KO 7pm
Forthcoming Fixtures:

Thurs 10th March St Helens Home 7pm
Thurs 17th March Castleford Home 7pm
Thurs 24th March Bradford Home 7pm
Sun 3rd April Wakefield Away 2pm
Thurs 7th April Wigan Home 7pm


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