RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V HULL

Following upon those recent, telling victories over London, Warrington, and St Helens, the Salford Red Devils further cemented their position in the top six with this, their fourth consecutive win, over revitalised Hull FC.

It has been an unfortunate quirk of the fixture list that the two sides have been kept apart so far into the season, which has meant that, whilst the Yorkshire side was really struggling for form, every other side has had the benefit of rich pickings, which, with the recent upturn of events on Humberside, has been denied the Red Devils.

Consequently, it was a far more evenly contested encounter which unfolded through the eighty minutes, than might earlier have been the case, with the visitors competing tooth and nail through to the bitter end.

Notice of this was served at the very outset, with the opening arm-wrestle lasting over nine full minutes, with end-to-end forays being soaked up by dominant defences on both sides. 

Even though it was the Red Devils who probably had the better field-position outcomes of these exchanges, they failed to set up any real threat to the Hull line, and it was not until 26 minutes that they opened the scoring courtesy Deon Cross, in the left corner.

An increase in tempo from the home side, coinciding with the mid-half interchanges, built up the first real pressure on the visitors, and the successfully developing half back combination of Marc Sneyd and Chris Atkin, with fullback, Ryan Brierley, linking in as the ball was swiftly moved from right to left, to find the winger in sufficient space to increase his rapidly growing number of tries.

What happened next, however, was to portend a series of similar events later in the game, for having just got themselves ahead the Red Devils were unable to take the ball from the kick-off, and Hull promptly took advantage of the situation to go over between the posts, directly from a scrum, to take the lead with their conversion.

Having failed to convert the first try from a difficult position, Sneyd ensured that that was to be a solitary one-off, and went on to slot the remaining goal attempts over, three of which were from penalties, the timing of which was absolutely crucial, giving the Reds a points’ boost just when they were most in need of them.  The first came right on half time to level the scores, the second on 45 mins expanded their, by then, lead to an important three scores, and what was most crucial of all, the third one extending, what was, then, a mere four-point lead to that of a converted try.

So often, since his return, we have all been grateful for his reliability in this facet of his game, but to a certain extent can start to take it for granted.  It is only when we witness opposing kickers missing such vital attempts at goal, as happened twice at the end of this game, that we realise just how much we owe to him on so many occasions.

It was his open-play kicking, at the start of the second half, however, which put the Reds in the dominant position for so much of the remainder of the game.  Just two minutes after the resumption, it was his chip above the defence which Brierley caught before falling over the line to take the lead for the first time, before his forty-twenty set up the position for their third score.

A subsequent penalty after the tap restart, saw the ball moved towards the right where the versatile Chris Hankinson, recently so reliable in the fullback role and this week deployed in the centre position he once occupied so regularly with our U20s back in 2012, celebrated by exploiting the space, out wide, for his third try of the season.

The remainder of the game, however, proved to be something of a frustration from a number of missed opportunities – Brierley’s mis-footing and Sneyd’s being thwarted from grounding the ball being the most significant –  which gave a fillip to the opposition, and led to a few handling and decision making errors, alongside a tiring, somewhat below par defence, that failed to prevent two Hull four-pointers, which, in themselves, failed to overturn what turned out to be the final winning scoreline in favour of the Red Devils.

It was, nevertheless, an important success, which has kept Salford not only in the top six, but also put them joint second with high-flyers such as Warrington, St Helens, and Hull KR – something we should be vaunting throughout the whole of the city. 

Next up comes another club, from which we have been kept well away, thus far, Catalans Dragons.   Tough as trips to the South of France invariably turn out to be, having recently completed the double over two of their co-habitants in second place, there is no gainsaying that the Reds will not be able to notch the first of yet another remarkable pair of victories.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V ST HELENS

A truly magnificent performance, saw the Salford Red Devils follow up their away win at the Totally Wicked Stadium, in early March, with yesterday’s home victory to complete their first double over St Helens since the 1979/80 season, forty-four years ago.

Not only that, they also made it two doubles in a row, and against teams higher in the league than they, themselves, following up the previous week’s away defeat of Warrington.  We had said this one would be tough, and it most certainly was with the Red Devils thrice having to come back from 6-0, 12-10, and 18-14 deficits.

We also said that a repeat of their performance in the victory over the Wolves, if they could manage it, might be sufficient to bring them the rewards, and, wow, did they manage to do just that, with the match-winning, try-of-the-game coming seven minutes from the final whistle, and their managing the remaining time superbly, keeping the Saints pinned down in their own half, for the majority of it.

Falling behind to Bell’s fifth minute converted try seemed to cause them little concern as they continued thereafter to repel the visitors’ early pressure, but it was not until twelfth minutes that they got within sight of the Saints’ line, forcing a goal-line drop-out as some reward.

They had to wait until a penalty, on 17mins, for a high tackle, gave them their best starting field-position, with Shane Wright reversing the initial direction of play and finding Deon Cross, unmarked, to go in at the corner.

Marc Sneyd’s failed attempt at obtaining a try by kicking the ball to his unmarked half-back colleague, Chris Atkin, did at least show the extent to which their partnership has developed, and indeed that was shown to greater effect in the way the pair linked to help set up the final try, with Sneyd’s pass enabling Atkin then to send out, what was assessed by some, as the most crucial pass in the line of the seven pairs of hands, involved in the move.

For Sneyd, though, the over-ruling of his ploy seemed to affect his next couple of attempts at goal, with his most unusually missing both, and then everything relying on his final conversion attempt to secure the win.  His overall performance though was as effective as ever, as he organised and directed play around the field.

Salford’s wingers continued to impress with the next score seeing Deon Cross repeat not only his brace from the previous week but also the winning try itself from Sneyd’s pinpoint kick to the corner.  Indeed, Cross was later voted our sponsor’s Man of the Match, for his stirring all-round performance on both attack and defence, alongside skipper, Kallum Watkins who received the same acknowledgement from Sky TV.

For his part Ethan Ryan was also impressive with his most significant contribution coming with his thirty metre run down his right flank, before passing inside to Chris Hankinson to complete the move with his touchdown for the day’s final score.

Once again, Hankinson’s contribution was well in excess of what might reasonably be expected of someone with limited experience in the role, and it was most fitting that he should be rewarded for it with the final try.

For fans of both sides, the second half was something akin to a ride on the big dipper, with hopes soaring and sinking in equal amounts over the forty, none so quickly changing as when Nene Macdonald’s try was overturned by the referee, as a result of two infringements – one from each side – and Salford being awarded the put-in at the ensuing scrum for St Helens’s initial knock-on.

For three matches now, Macdonald has been used as the ‘go to’ target for some of Sneyd’s high end-of-set, attacking kicks, and for the first time this brought success, with his palm backwards of the ball, where Watkins, having vied with Hankinson to collect it, claimed the score.

While Saints probably had slightly the better of the exchanges, in the second forty, with their scoring three tries to two, it was the four point advantage at half-time, as a result of Salford’s two tries to one in the first half, which stood them in such good stead to be able to go on and collect the two league points.

As for the rest of the side, they all covered themselves with glory for their sterling efforts throughout.  Joe Mellor’s scoots at the play-the-ball, for example, have now begun to cause so many problems in opposition defences that they have become a significant nuisance value to the side.

And when they were not engaged in wave after wave of attack, such as the ten-minute period at the start of the second half, they were all a part of the tremendous defensive wall they put up, which so successfully limited the Saints’ scoring machine to less points than they needed even to draw.

So, with an international giving the rest of Super League a blank weekend this week, the lads will have a most deserved rest, but when they return, it will be to a significantly different challenge of getting themselves fully motivate for seeing off one of the lower sides in the league, Hull, who, themselves, have made noticeable strides in recent weeks.  A large vociferous crowd would be a welcome addition to their motivation.

RESERVES FAIL TO CAPITALISE ON COMEBACK

Warrington 32  Salford 22                     Match Report

A most impressive first half comeback saw the Salford Red Devils’ Reserve side overturn a ten point deficit, to take a 10-16 half-time lead over the Warrington Wolves Reserves, at Victoria Park, last Saturday, but, disappointingly, were unable to sustain it as the home side took command in the second half to secure the victory.

The Red Devils are beginning to make a habit of getting off to a slow start, falling behind on the scoreboard, and then coming from behind to take the lead.  That, on this occasion, as much as their below par performance in the second half, was responsible for their defeat.  It would have been far more achievable for them had they been defending a 0-16 lead at the turnaround.

Two quick tries, in the 3rd and 5th mins, put the Wolves in the driving seat, but as has happened most recently, against Wigan and London, the Salford players pulled together to overcome this in the second quarter.

It was not until the fifteenth minute, though, that they were able to launch their first attack, but, most remarkably, completed it with a try by fullback, Nathan Connell, recently returned from duties with the first team, the week before, from a kick towards the posts, over the line by scrum-half, Kai Morgan, who also added the extra two points.

Apart from these two players, there was also another pair in the side both of whom have quite a wealth of first team experience.  Amir Bourouh sadly had the misfortune of having to sit out much of the first half out, awaiting a half time head injury assessment, after a knock, on 8 mins.  King Vuniyayawa, however, contributed much to the side’s mid-half fightback.  

Having already impressed with some really strong carries forward, he was instrumental in the next Salford score.  This started with an arcing run from the middle of the field fifteen metres out towards the left touchline, and as he was tackled just short of the line, he slipped the ball to centre, Brad Hammond, who crossed too far out for the conversion to be successful.

Not only this, he, it was, whose strength and power took him through the defence to score between the posts, for their one and only try of the second half, with Morgan adding the straight-forward conversion.

Before that, however, the Reds had enjoyed a grand ending to the first half, when they took the lead, five minutes from half time, with second rower, Charlie McCurrie, charging over, and although initially being prevented from grounding the ball by a cluster of defenders, most smartly rolled over sideways to place it down on the other side.  With the aid of a ricochet in off the post, Morgan was able to chalk up another two points to widen the Salford lead.

The second half, however, was to be all Warrington’s – certainly as far as the scoring was concerned – though it has to be said that a couple of those were attributable to the most extraordinary of circumstances.

Nevertheless, the Reds continued to endeavour to press their hosts on a number of occasions, but without success, and so, with frustration building up, errors started to set in, which merely sourced the Wolves’ opportunities to attack all the more.

Coach, Stuart Wilkinson, elaborated on this further:

“It was a disappointing afternoon, overall.  We had a poor start and then, in the second half, we went away from what the good things that we had been doing up to half time.  It is indicative of the point in our development at this time, where there has been plenty of spirit in evidence, but also a lack of awareness of the impact of errors and especially giving away penalties.  This is something that can only be eliminated by learning, over time

“Despite this, we have been competitive right to the end, in every one of our games, and this was most evident in the contribution of substitute, Leunbou Bardyel-Wells, whose commitment and endeavour was absolutely outstanding.  His impact caused so much anxiety in the home crowd, that they even cheered when he received a couple of hard hits, while carrying the ball, which is a significant compliment in itself.”

 SALFORD

Nathan Connell, Joe Coope-Franklin, Scott Egan, Brad Hammond, Ethan Fitzgerald, Joe Purcell, Kai Morgan, Jamie Pye, Amir Bourouh, King Vuniyayawa, Henry Davies, Charlie McCurrie, John Hutchings

Interchanges:

Finley Yates, Jack Gatcliffe, Leunbou Bardyel-Wells, Josh Wagstaffe

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: WARRINGTON V SALFORD

With a first half performance that must have been their best forty minutes of the season so far, the Salford Red Devils put the Warrington Wolves to the sword, to complete their second double of the season, at the Halliwell-Jones, last Friday evening.

Yet, it had been expected by many that it would be Warrington who would have had so much to prove, following their Wembley defeat, that the Red Devils might well have had to contend with a considerable backlash, and indeed there was sufficient evidence, in periods, to show that the Wolves’ determination to do this had been there from the outset.  It just happened to be stymied by the visitors’ ability to conjure up the most thrilling of tries, out of nothing.

The first five sets saw the home side exerting their physical prowess having started the game on their own line, but then ending each set further and further into Salford territory, so much so that the fifth – Warrington’s third – ended with fullback, Chris Hankinson, catching the kick, virtually on his own line, and having to contend with the charging maraud of players intent on forcing a goal-line drop-out.

Secure in the knowledge that there was support at his side, he, most daringly, released the ball backwards over his own line, which was to change the course of the whole game, from thereon.  In fact, Hankinson himself, went on to have a most impressive game throughout, returning kicks into the very faces of the opposition, linking up with play, and making two outstanding try-saving tackles.

Salford, with the possession he had provided, in three tackles then went the length of the field to take the lead.  Sam Stone ran at a gap between two players, thereby drawing them both in and then slipping the ball in the tackle to Nene Macdonald, who successfully turned fullback, Matt Dufty, inside out, before crossing between the posts.

The inspiration this brought was more than evident seven minutes later when their line speed, at one play-the-ball, pushed the Wolves further and further back with each pass so that a rushed final one found the unintended mark of Tim Lafai, who came close to doubling the scoreline.  Instead, it was the reliable boot of Marc Sneyd, who increased Warrington’s woes, with a penalty.

If the Wolves’ confidence were beginning to creak a little by this time, it was surely cracked wide open, in the very next set, when slick hands combined to put Deon Cross down the left wing, and he also added to the Wolves’ fullback’s woes by selling a most outrageous of dummies to leave him flat on the ground, for Salford’s second try.

Kallum Watkins’s recovery of possession from a Warrington touch-in-flight saw him show the utmost composure to slip the ball out from a tackle to Ethan Ryan, whose own performance was as eye-catching as any, with his constant carries to the opposition, runs along the wing, and later in the game, his reliability in sweeping up the ball from kicks into his corner which he returned with interest.

On this occasion, he proved to be the link which put Sneyd away, to ground their third try, under the posts.  With the conversion and a last minute drop-goal, the Red Devils were in quite a commanding lead, as much due to their overall performance as to the 0-19 scoreline, at half time.

It would have been quite incredible had they managed to carry this on into the second half, but with Warrington gaining and maintaining much greater possession, it was the Reds’ defence which was to be their greatest asset.

 As many as five Warrington sets-of-six over a four-minute period at the start of the half, were soaked up and eventually brought to an end by Lafai’s interception, and even when the Wolves went over for their first try, thanks to Cross’s valiant effort to prevent it, it then took the video referee eight minutes to come to a decision, which was based solely on the call of the referee.

It was a handling error and not their defence, three minutes later, that gave Ashton a clear run to the line to put the Wolves, temporarily back into the game, but it was a moment of pure magic, from Man of the Match, Sneyd, to send a guided missile from his boot into the hands of Cross.

Much has been said, with considerable justification, about the strike power of Salford’s centres, but there is now a growing respect for the accomplishments of their two wingers.  Cross’s skill in taking that ball so cleanly as he was diving over the line was quite incredible.

Not to be forgotten, however, great praise should be heaped on the Salford forwards who shirked absolutely nothing against a much bigger and stronger pack, undertaking all the ‘in-between’ hard work that forwards have to do.  It was also good to welcome Loghan Lewis and Harvey Wilson on their debuts.  Lewis certainly added some considerable go-forward to the team, on his introduction, while Wilson can only be admired for his willingness to mix-it with individuals of far greater size than he.

If next weekend’s fixture is to produce another double, it will have to be over St Helens, our next opponents, and that is going to be a considerable ask of them, when you consider how few and far between victories over the Saints have been, even at home, over the decades.  Another performance along these lines, however, would certainly put the possibility of such very much into the frame.

MATCH REPORT – WARRINGTON WOLVES 14-25 SALFORD RED DEVILS (ROUND 14)

The Entertainers put on a show at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, as they completed a Betfred Super League double over Warrington Wolves.

After a weeks’ rest, Paul Rowley’s side were looking to maintain a spot in the top six against the Wire, who were wounded after Wembley heartbreak last Saturday.

Our Head Coach handed debuts to new signing, Loghan Lewis and young talent, Harvey Wilson, whilst Joe Mellor replaced Joe Shorrocks at hooker.

Both sides began the contest trading sets at a comfortable pace, but it was the hosts who were slowly gaining territory with some strong carries upfield.

A tricky grubber and a quick chase threatened to pin Chris Hankinson in-goal, but the fullback expertly flicked the ball out to Ethan Ryan and got us back on the front foot.

Ryan made a quick break down the right a few tackles later, and it wasn’t long after that passage of play that the Reds were over for their first try of the evening.

Spreading the play left, Sam Stone ran a perfect line to pierce a hole in the Wire defence and find Macdonald in support, who cut inside Matt Dufty to fire Salford into the lead.

One almost became two via a Tim Lafai interception, but the Samoan was caught in two minds when bearing down on the try-line and allowed Warrington time to get back, and make the tackle.

That break didn’t come without reward, however. Stone had the ball stripped by Dufty trying to get the play moving and Sneyd took the opportunity to extend our advantage to eight from the kicking tee.

It didn’t take long for the same source to break open Wire’s line once more; triggering another stunning, team try from inside our own half.

Sneyd’s flick and Lafai’s tip sent Deon Cross racing down the left. The winger backed his pace and sold a neat dummy to Dufty before strolling over for a try.

The man in support there was Sneyd, as he was for the majority of the evening – and he finally got his moment on 23 minutes.

Skipper, Kallum Watkins was the man on this occasion to run a brilliant line and find Ryan with an offload. The winger pumped a fake pass to Sneyd – which drew Dufty in – before releasing the halfback to score under the sticks.

His conversion and an intelligent one-pointer on the hooter handed us a 19-0 half-time lead.

The second forty almost got off to a perfect start when Hankinson slid over, but after a video referee check, it was called a no-try for obstruction by Sneyd in the build-up.

It was a moment that shifted the momentum slightly, with Tai scoring for the Wire a few minutes later.

Stefan Ratchford found his winger in the corner via a chipped kick, but there was doubt on the grounding due a heroic effort by Deon Cross.

After a video referee check that took around eight minutes, the try was allowed to stand.

One quickly became two for the hosts, but this time it was from our own error. Watkins’ attempted tip was caught by Toby King and he released Matty Ashton for an easy try.

It was a flurry of tries the Red Devils probably didn’t deserve to concede, but it certainly failed to knock their confidence and another fantastic try all-but sealed the two points.

Sneyd was the provider again with an inch-perfect kick for Cross who, with a superman-like dive, notched his second of the evening in the left corner.

Our sublime number seven converted with some style from the touchline.

There was time on the full-time hooter for Tai to score a second after half-break from Josh Drinkwater, but it was only a consolation and the Red Devils secured a massive win over a fellow playoff chasing side.

It doesn’t get any easier, however, with St Helens in town next Sunday for an Armed Forces Day blockbuster at the Salford Community Stadium.

MATCH FACTS:

Salford line-up: Chris Hankinson, Ethan Ryan, Nene Macdonald, Tim Lafai, Deon Cross, Chris Atkin, Marc Sneyd, Brad Singleton, Joe Mellor, Shane Wright, Sam Stone, Kallum Watkins, Ollie Partington.

Interchanges: Joe Shorrocks, Gil Dudson, Harvey Wilson, Loghan Lewis.

Tries: Nene Macdonald, Deon Cross (2), Marc Sneyd.

Conversions: Marc Sneyd (4/5) & 1 drop-goal.

Warrington Wolves line-up: Matt Dufty, Rodrick Tai, Toby King, Connor Wrench, Matty Ashton, Stefan Ratchford, Josh Drinkwater, Zane Musgrove, Danny Walker, Paul Vaughan, Matty Nicholson, Adam Holroyd, Ben Currie.

Interchanges: James Harrison, Joe Bullock, Sam Powell, Max Wood.

Tries: Rodrick Tai (2), Matty Ashton.

Conversions: Stefan Ratchford (0/1), Josh Drinkwater (1/2)

HT: 0-19

Photo credit: Steve McCormick & James Giblin.

MATCH PREVIEW – WARRINGTON WOLVES VS SALFORD RED DEVILS (ROUND 14)

Paul Rowley’s side will make a short trip down the M62 to take on Warrington Wolves in Round 14.

After a weeks’ rest, Salford Red Devils are looking to maintain a spot in the top six with a win against the Challenge Cup runners-up.

In our last meeting, a Ryan Brierley penalty-try was the difference in a closely-fought contest, but since then, Sam Burgess’ side have earned impressive victories over Hull FC, Hull KR, Huddersfield Giants and Catalans Dragons.

The Wire may be wounded from cup final heartbreak, but they’ll still be the sternest of tests for the Reds, who will remember a missed opportunity when we had a healthy lead at the HWJ last season.

Here’s everything you need to know before this one:


HOW TO BUY TICKETS

There’s still time to join us at the Halliwell Jones tomorrow evening.

Tickets can be purchased HERE online, or alternatively from the ticket office until midday on Friday.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that Salford Red Devils receive commission on all tickets pre-purchased from Salford Stadium and nothing from on the day sales, so we urge you to buy your tickets from us directly.


SQUAD NEWS

Loghan Lewis could potentially make his Salford Red Devils debut, as he’s named in Paul Rowley’s 21-man squad for the first time since his move from Canberra Raiders.

After some valuable minutes in the Reserves, Harvey Wilson is also still in contention for his first appearance.

A piece of good news for supporters will be seeing Nene Macdonald’s inclusion, after the PNG international limped off the field with a knee injury almost a fortnight ago.

However, Ryan Brierley remains absent from the squad as he continues his recovery from a shoulder issue. Matty Foster is also added to the injury list after a collision in our last outing against London Broncos.


LAST TIME OUT

We’re never short of drama when these two sides face-off in the Betfred Super League.

Back in Round 9, an impressive Warrington side travelled to the Salford Community Stadium looking to build-on a positive start to 2024.

Tim Lafai opened the scoring on ten minutes with a stunning, solo run, where he handed-off multiple Wire players to crash over – a try that was voted our best of April.

James Harrison and George Williams turned the tide, but Joe Mellor notched career try 99 with a neat scoot from dummy-half, just before the interval.

Salford nudged themselves into the lead via a Marc Sneyd drop-goal, but Stefan Ratchford soon flipped the scores with a penalty-goal.

In such an intense arm wrestle, a game-breaking run and kick back infield by Nene Macdonald caused Danny Walker to foul Ryan Brierley and force referee, James Vella to award a penalty-try.

It was a moment that decided the contest, with the Red Devils emerging with a big two points.


HOW TO WATCH

Nothing beats experiencing the action in the flesh, but if you’re unable to attend this one, TV coverage is available.

This game is a main broadcast on Sky Sports Action, with the pre-game build-up getting underway from 7:30pm.

Hear the pre-game thoughts of both Head Coach’s and Sky’s studio crew before the Red Devils take-on the Wire.

Post-match, the Player of the Match, both Head Coach’s and any other special guests will be analysing the action and what the result means for both sides.


WARRINGTON TRIP ON SALE NOW

Tickets for our Betfred Super League trip to take-on Warrington Wolves are on sale now.

Our next away clash is only a short journey down the M62, where an in-form Wire side, led by Sam Burgess, will be looking to get revenge from our previous meeting in late-April.

A hard-fought victory for Salford was kickstarted by a sublime, solo run by Tim Lafai, who fended multiple Wire defenders before crashing over in the left corner.

Joe Mellor also crossed for his first in Red Devils’ colours, but the game was eventually settled by a penalty-try when Danny Walker impeded Ryan Brierley from grounding just 10 minutes from time.

Our next encounter will be at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Friday, June 14th, with a 8pm kick-off.

Tickets are on sale now – click HERE to join us for a massive game in Round 14.

Prices for this fixture are: £26 Adults, £20 for Concessions (65+) and 17-23 year-olds, £14 for Junior 12-16 year-olds, £12 for Junior U12s, and £5 for Junior 2-5 year-olds.

Infant U2s and Ambulant Carers are FOC.

Wheelchair disabled supporters will have to book directly from Warrington’s ticket office by calling 01925 248888.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that Salford Red Devils receive commission on all tickets pre-purchased from Salford Stadium and nothing from on the day sales, so we urge you to buy your tickets from us directly.

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.

MATCH REPORT – SALFORD RED DEVILS 17-12 WARRINGTON WOLVES (ROUND 9)

Salford Red Devils recorded a sixth win in nine after a hard-fought contest with Warrington Wolves.

Paul Rowley’s side have continued their fine start to 2024 by beating one of the division’s most in-form teams and now move joint 2nd on the Betfred Super League table.

The hosts started the game with a high intensity, maintaining great pressure in both defence and attack. Tim Lafai shot off the defensive line to put pressure on Stefan Ratchford, forcing him to throw a forward pass and cause the first error of the game.

It was the same source who opened the scoring moments later, with a run perhaps typical of the quality Lafai brings to the team.

Some quick hands from Marc Sneyd got the centre free on the left edge. Deon Cross was outside him, but the Samoan produced a stunning, tackle-busting run to open the scoring.

From the restart, Salford were straight back on the offensive and Ryan Brierley was the next to go bursting through the Warrington defence.

One-on-one with Matt Dufty, Brierley was taken down and couldn’t accurately flick the offload, which bobbled out of play.

Building back upfield, Salford conceded a set restart and prop, James Harrison consequently darted through the line to level the scores, with Ratchford adding the extras.

Wire were soon on the board again when Brierley – chasing back a deft grubber – misjudged the bounce and allowed George Williams to sneak around the back and score – confirmed by the video referee.

But just when it looked like the visitors were in the ascendency, Joe Mellor – who had an outstanding game at hooker – scurried from dummy-half to crash over, right next to the posts.

With half-time looming, some neat set-up play allowed Sneyd to nail a drop goal from around 30 metres to put Salford in front.

A nip-and-tuck start to the second-half, with both sides trading sets, ended with Ratchford punishing a string of Salford penalties to kick a penalty-goal.

It was certainly an eventful afternoon for the video referee, and he was called into action again when the on-field call of no try went against Brierley for a double-movement.

It was Mellor who made a break up the middle and Brierley was denied by a last-ditch Toby King tackle.

There was a similar situation up the other end, with Paul Vaughan thinking he’d crashed over for a crucial try, but the on-field call of no try was upheld by the video referee.

Sneyd tried his luck from the tee after a high tackle from Vaughan, but his effort, although catching the wind, was just to the right of the sticks.

Then, the game-winning moment, courtesy of a lung-bursting run from Nene Macdonald down the right wing.

The PNG international backed his pace to beat one man, but then sent a stellar kick back infield for Brierley and Chris Atkin to chase.

The former was brought down off the ball by Danny Walker when he looked certain to ground, and after some forensic analysis by the video referee, he agreed with the on-field call of penalty-try.

Sneyd added the extras and rounded-off a huge scalp for the Red Devils, who will now travel to face another in-form team, Huddersfield Giants in Round 10.

MATCH FACTS:

Salford line-up: Ryan Brierley, Ethan Ryan, Nene Macdonald, Tim Lafai, Deon Cross, Chris Atkin, Marc Sneyd, Jack Ormondroyd, Joe Mellor, King Vuniyayawa, Kallum Watkins, Shane Wright, Oliver Partington.

Interchanges: Cade Cust, Joe Shorrocks, Andrew Dixon, Gil Dudson.

Tries: Tim Lafai, Joe Mellor, Ryan Brierley.

Conversions: Marc Sneyd (2/4)

Drop Goals: Marc Sneyd (1/1)

Warrington Wolves line-up: Matt Dufty, Josh Thewlis, Stefan Ratchford, Toby King, Matty Russell, George Williams, Leon Hayes, James Harrison, Danny Walker, Paul Vaughan, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Matty Nicholson, Ben Currie.

Interchanges: Sam Powell, Joe Bullock, Joe Philbin, Jordy Crowther.

Tries: James Harrison, George Williams.

Conversions:  Stefan Ratchford (2/3)

HT: 11-10

TEAM NEWS | ATKIN INTO THE HALVES FOR ROUND 9

Paul Rowley has made one change to the team who beat London Broncos last Saturday.

Two points in the capital lifted the Red Devils into 7th and only two points behind today’s opposition, the high-flying Warrington Wolves – led by Sam Burgess.

Chris Atkin – often dubbed mr versatile – is actually back in his natural position of halfback this afternoon, in place of Cade Cust, who drops to the interchange bench.

Ethan Ryan starts on wing and brings up 150 career appearances – an incredible achievement.

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