RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: WIGAN V SALFORD PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY (SAM POWELL TESTIMONIAL)

It might not have been the result most Salford fans will have hoped for, but the purpose of pre-season friendlies is rather more wide-ranging than the final figures on the scoreboard.  First and foremost, they are one of the concluding steps in the players’, and team’s, development on the road to Super League Round 1, which for Salford is less than two weeks away.

Trips to Wigan seldom bring victories for the visiting side, and the home advantage must certainly have given them a head start. In addition .there was also some added motivation for the Warriors from the fact that this was the testimonial game for their highly regarded half back-cum-hooker, Sam Powell.  Their desire to do justice to their much-admired teammate, will have been increased their desire to do well, in itself.

There are some games, in which the final score does not totally reflect the game as a whole, and this was somewhat true of Sunday’s.  The Red Devils’ many positives, unfortunately, were often over-shadowed by a disappointing outcome.  Marc Sneyd’s great interception on eight minutes – only two minutes after Wigan had taken the lead – would, on most similar occasions, have brought a score, but unfortunately, on this occasion he lost his footing and the opportunity to draw level had gone.

Indeed, by half-time, there were many spectators with the view that a twelve all draw would have been a fairer reflection of the contest, with Rhys Williams having twice crossed in the left corner, but having been denied on the first occasion by last ditch defending, and on the second by an obstruction, in the build-up.

The opening stages of the encounter had seen a physically dominant Wigan, with the lion’s share of possession, totally controlling field-position.  So many of the Red Devils’ sets were started in their own ten metre zone, and that is where the hard-yardage is really hard to come by, sapping energy and with end-of -sets kicks coming barely twenty-five metres out, meaning that the Warriors were regaining possession well away from their own line..

This, however, started to change midway through the half, with the visitors muscling up and matching their hosts physically, the pressure from which started to force errors from the Wigan players.  It was from one such of these that some excellent attacking play, on 33 minutes, brought the Reds their try from Deon Cross in the right-hand corner, too far out for Sneyd to goal.

Holding out, thereafter, to half-time would have been most beneficial but an ill-judged pass went to ground, in the final minute of the half, only to be gathered by French, who had a clear run to the line, and the score at half-time stood at 18-4, which was a reflection, predominantly, of the chances each team taken.

The opening stages of the second half saw a much more aggressive Salford side forcing further Wigan errors, two of which led to fine breaks which had them on the back-foot.  The first, on 49 mins, had the Warriors scrambling back after a final kick through, to hack the ball into the North Stand for a goal-line drop-out.  Amir Burrough’s break from dummy-half, four minutes later, set up yet another scoring opportunity in the left-hand corner, which, with the odd, slightly different option, might have brought another four, or even six points.

A little more patience immediately afterwards might still have brought some further reward, but unfortunately, ill-discipline set in with a succession of penalties accruing against them, and the Warriors did not scorn the opportunities they then had, of putting the score beyond the visitors.

True it was a game, and everyone always wants to win no matter what, but, even more important, it was a dress rehearsal, and everyone knows that a great dress rehearsal does not always portend a great opening night, any more than the exact opposite portends the alternative outcome.

SALFORD TO FACE WIGAN WARRIORS IN SAM POWELL’S TESTIMONIAL

Salford Red Devils will kick-off their pre-season preparations with a friendly against Wigan Warriors in Sam Powell’s testimonial. 

After 10 years of service to Wigan and Rugby League Powell has been granted a Testimonial year by the RFL for 2023. The fixture will take place at the DW Stadium on Sunday February, 5th, with kick-off scheduled for 3pm.

Powell has made 25o appearances for the Cherry and White’s, winning five major honours and cementing himself as a one-club man.

Upon announcement of the fixture, Director of Rugby and Operations Ian Blease has said: “It’s an honour for Salford Red Devils to be involved in Sam Powell’s testimonial.

“Sam is a true warrior with immense quality and his performances for Wigan over the years have been outstanding. His commitment to the sport is exemplary and something every young player should strive to replicate. Everyone at the Club is looking forward to celebrating his magnificent achievements on February 5th.”

On being granted his Testimonial year, Powell said: “It’s going to be a special year for me, my family and friends. This will be my 11th season coming up and to spend such a long time at a special Club like Wigan is a real achievement.

“When I signed my last contract, I mentioned how important the Club is to me and my family. I’m very grateful for how supportive Rads and his staff have been.

“I will have a game against Salford on Sunday 5th February at the DW Stadium. To have the game at home is great and I hope all our fans get behind it. It’s going to be a special year.

“I’m very grateful for the committee I’ve got in place. They’ll be the backbone of this year being successful. My first job is to play well for Wigan. I’ll rip in when I get back in pre-season and I’m hoping it will be a very successful year.

“I hope the fans buy into it; I really appreciate the support. I was a fan before I started playing so I know what it’s like. A massive thank you to all my old teammates, staff and coaches – back in my amateur days too. My wife Ria has been on the journey with me. I’m hoping this season is going to be great.”

All the ticket information can be found HERE.

Shaun Wane – "We'll show them a lot of respect"

Wigan head coach Shaun Wane knows that Salford will be looking to get their season back on track tonight against his Warriors side.
The Red Devils suffered a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of Wane’s Warriors last month in a game but he knows that Salford offer difficult opposition.
Wane said: “Salford are a very good team, they’ll be on full on and desperate to get their season going again.
“They’ve been very good this year, they’re just not finding that bit of luck you need at the minute.
“We’ll show them a lot of respect. They’ll get a win again soon, we just need to make sure it’s not against us.”
Wigan got back to winning ways last weekend against Huddersfield and Wane feels his hookers shone as the Warriors earned their first Super 8s victory of 2017.
Wane said: “Sam Powell did a good job as did Micky, I’ve watched it back three times and think our attack was good considering the testing conditions.
“We’re a repetition team and we need to practice good things and that’s what we’ll be aiming to do this week.”
Tickets are still available up until 5pm for tonight’s game against Wigan from the club’s ticket office. Supporters are also reminded that tickets are on sale for all Super 8s home games against Castleford, Wakefield and St Helens. Season tickets are valid for all Super 8s home games.

Lama Tasi Sidelined

Ahead of the Red Devils Super 8s campaign the forwards are looking to step up however one man who won’t be available is Lama Tasi.
Following early medical advice Salford Red Devils forward Tasi has been ruled out for ten weeks which means he won’t feature for the remainder of the season.
The 27-year-old sustained the knee injury after a collision with Wigan Warriors hooker Sam Powell in last weekend’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final loss. However, Tasi was due to miss this weekend’s game against Hull FC after pleading guilty to a Grade B striking with the shoulder in the same game.
Tasi, sponsored by Tommy Piggott, said: “It’s really frustrating to pick up an injury like this so late on in the season.
“We’re coming up to crunch time with the Super 8s and to miss these sort of game is disappointing.
“But, we have a fantastic set of forwards with guys like Weller Hauraki, Craig Kopzcak, Tyrone McCarthy and, of course, Ben Murdoch-Masila.
“I’ve no doubts those lads will perform in over the next few weeks beginning with big games against Hull FC and Castleford Tigers.”
Fans are reminded they can purchase tickets for the Red Devils first Super 8s home game against Castleford on Friday 11th August through the club’s ticket office, over the phone and online via the club website.

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