Category: Rugby

Ian Watson | “I’m really confident in the group of players”

Salford Head Coach Ian Watson says he’s ‘really confident in the group of players’ the Red Devils have at their disposal but does believe his side need to start putting in eighty-minute performances If they are to compete for a place in the top eight.
Watson said: “We’ve had two bad halves I’d say.
“Second half against Wigan and this second half against St Helens as well but if we want to compete against the top teams we need to be having eighty-minute performances.
“We’ve sampled the Super 8s last year and we know what kind of level these guys can compete at and it’s up to us to make sure we’re doing things for eighty minutes and at the moment we’re just coming up short of that.
“With Wigan at home we fell short in the second half and Saints again on Sunday.
“I thought against Wakefield – who are looking like a top four team – we were really good we should have got something out of that.
“We’d improved on the Wigan game, we improved again with the Hull KR game and I thought our first half against St Helens – with how Saints tore Castleford apart – was really good but discipline cost us.
“I’m not worried I’m really confident in the group of players we’ve got but we do need to look at ourselves seriously with our discipline issues if we’re going to let that continue and structure out season really.”

Dual-Registration/Loan Watch | Swinton Lions 12-52 Toronto Wolfpack

Gavin Bennion featured for Swinton Lions as Toronto Wolfpack overhauled Stuart Littler’s side 52-12, in a ruthless nine try display at Heywood Road.  
Tries from Mike Butt and Luke Waterworth were mere consolation efforts, as Paul Rowley’s Wolfpack ran out deserved winners on Sunday afternoon.
Jake Butler-Fleming, Ryan Brierley and Blake Wallace each claimed a brace apiece, whilst Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e, Andy Ackers and Jonny Pownall also crossed over for the Canadian outfit.
Bennion, who has been on loan at Swinton since early February, has impressed during his spell at Heywood Road and his performance in the clash with Toronto again earned the plaudits of Swinton boss Littler.
Former Salford Centre Littler said: “I thought Gav Bennion looked strong again on the ball.
“He’s challenging people and his footwork looks dangerous.” added Littler.
The defeat means Swinton remain winless after four fixtures and now lie bottom of the Betfred Championship table.
Elsewhere, Levy Nzoungou didn’t feature for Whitehaven. The Cumbrians’ tie at Hunslet was postponed due to a frozen pitch as ‘The Beast from the East’ blighted the majority of the weekend’s fixtures.
Dual-Registration partners Oldham also suffered a postponement, The Roughyeds’ meeting with Hemel Stags will be rearranged as both the pitch and surrounding areas at the Vestacare Stadium were deemed unsafe.
Gavin Bennion will be hopeful of appearing for Swinton in their next fixture as The Lions travel to Featherstone Rovers with the hope of securing their first victory of the campaign.
Levy Nzoungou will also be in contention of being included in Whitehaven’s match-day squad as Carl Forster’s side travel to Yorkshire to meet League 1 leaders Doncaster.
Finally, Oldham host York City Knights this coming Sunday, The Roughyeds head into the tie having not conceded a single point in 160 minutes of competitive Rugby this season.
By Ryan Booth

Three talking points | St Helens 34-2 Salford Red Devils

Following yesterday’s 34-2 defeat at the hands of St Helens we take a look at three talking points from the game. 
Following yesterday’s defeat Head Coach Ian Watson bemoaned his sides ill-discipline which he felt was one of two key reasons Salford came away from the Totally Wicked Stadium empty handed.
The Red Devils penalty count was much higher than St Helens’ and the side gave away penalties at crucial times as well as towards the end of Saints’ sets which Ian Watson eluded to in his post-match press conference.
Logan Tomkins also pointed out the sides penalty count as one of the main reasons Saints were allowed to run away with the game. Read his full thoughts here.
Ben Barba
Many predicted Ben Barba to come to life this season following a full off-season with St Helens under his belt and he was certainly the standout performer for the hosts.
Barba crossed for two tries as well as being heavily involved in two others in a Man of the Match display. Salford Red Devils Head Coach Ian Watson listed the Australian full-back as the second major factor which helped Justin Holbrook’s men prevail.
Josh Wood
We’ve already picked him out once this season, but youngster Josh Wood continues to flourish this season at hooker.
Wood, who has come into the squad following an injury to Kriss Brining, has excelled this year and looks to be coming into his own on the Betfred Super League stage.
The 21-year-old adds a different dimension to The Red Devils going forward and is interchanging with fellow hooker Logan Tomkins well in the early weeks of the 2018 season.

Logan Tomkins | “We’ve got a lot to work on”

Salford hooker Logan Tomkins admits it was a ‘tough day’ for The Red Devils and points to the sides discipline as an area to improve on.
Tomkins, sponsored by ABL, said: “We prepared well even with the game getting postponed to a Sunday.
“It didn’t really affect us because we had a few more days to go over what we needed to do
“We started well I think we competed for the first fifteen-twenty minutes but then after that we sort of let it slip and we can’t be one of those teams that’s in a game for twenty, out of it for twenty and back in it for twenty.
“It was just inconsistent really so we’ve got a lot of work on.
“It went away from us in the last twenty mintues but it was everything that happened throughout the game really.
“The penalty count was in their favour and when you’re defending back-to-back sets you know extra sets on top of what you’ve already done it’s going to come out at some point and then the last twenty minutes for us it was a bit embarrassing.
“To be honest we didn’t really notice [Lama Tasi’s sin-bin] in the sense we were all trying to work and cover for our mistakes but inevitably it probably took a bit more out of the tank.
“But, that wasn’t why we lost the game it was our discipline. He [Lama Tasi] went off for his discipline but it was the fifteen penalties before that probably put the nail in the coffin.”

Ian Watson | “We got what we deserved in the second half”

Salford Red Devils Head Coach Ian Watson feels his side ‘got what they deserved in the second half’ following a 34-2 defeat to Betfred Super League leaders St Helens.
Watson said: “I thought we got what we deserved in the second half.
“First half we were really good. The difference between the teams for the first sixty minutes was the discipline and Ben Barba to be fair his quality kind of shone.
“The way he came up with his tries the one of the offload from [Alex] Walmsley and the one where he beat [Craig Kopczak] Koppy on his inside shoulder I just thought that was kind of the difference along with our discipline.
“We defended really well in large parts but then we gave penalties away on tackle four and five so not only are we ending up defending one set but two sets to every set that we had.
“If you keep doing that then your defence is fatigued and that’s what you saw in that second half.
“I think first set they completed, we completed ours and on the next one we gave a penalty away on tackle four and then they got a repeat set from a poor error not letting the ball bounce dead and they scored on the back of that.
“We got what we deserved because we weren’t resilient enough as a team to get the result but I think Ben Barba was the one who stood out along with our discipline.
“We were talking [post-match] about having that resilience about us when things aren’t going our way we can’t just shut up shop and put our heads down.
“We’ve got to fight for what we want to get out of the game and out of the season really and I thought we just kind of lacked that a little bit but discipline was the issue today.”

Match Report | St Helens 34-2 Salford Red Devils

Salford Red Devils were unable to record successive Betfred Super League victories as they suffered a 34-2 away defeat to St Helens.
Two tries from Ben Barba alongside further scores from Tommy Makinson, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Jonny Lomax and Luke Thompson ensured the Saints ran out deserved winners at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Despite not claiming any points within the early stages, the Red Devils made a bright start to the contest and minimised any potential threats from the St Helens fold.
Salford opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Gareth O’Brien converted a penalty 12 yards in front of the posts to give The Reds a two points lead.
St Helens responded well and almost crossed over when McCarthy-Scarsbrook powered towards the Salford line, although Logan Tomkins was equal to the forward’s efforts and held him up in goal.
Saints’ determination paid dividends as Makinson pounced onto Barba’s grubber kick to give the hosts the lead, however Danny Richardson was unable to convert the extras.
Makinson’s effort appeared to instill some belief with the hosts, they extended their lead five minutes from time as the lively Barba seized upon a gap in the Salford backline before racing 30m to cross over in what proved to be the final point scoring action of the half, Richardson again missed the resulting goal.
It took Saints just five minutes to pick up where they left off after the interval, Barba fought off several tackle attempts before diving over to give the home side some breathing space, Richardson successfully converted the extras to leave the scores at 14-2.
Minutes later, Saints increased the margin between the sides by a further two points as Richardson landed a penalty in front of the sticks, after O’Brien’s drop-out flew into touch on the full.
With less than thirty minutes of the game remaining, Salford were temporarily reduced to twelve men as Lama Tasi was sin binned for two dangerous tackle attempts in as many minutes.
Salford had a glorious opportunity to claw their way back into the tie, Jack Littlejohn found Junior Sa’u out wide although the former’s pass was deemed forward.
Despite the Red Devils’ perseverance, St Helens crossed over again eleven minutes from time as McCarthy-Scarsbrook powered over, Richardson converted the extras.
Soon after, Saints were in again as former Salford man Theo Fages poked the ball into space before Lomax touched the ball down, Richardson successfully kicked the resulting goal.
Unfortunately for Ian Watson’s side, the hosts weren’t finished there as Thompson broke away after the full-time hooter before diving over, Richardson converted the extras to complete the rout.
The win now means the hosts sit top of the Betfred Super League table.
St Helens Lineup: Barba, Swift, Makinson, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Amor, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin
Interchanges: Fages, Walmsley, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas
Salford Lineup: O’Brien, Bibby, Welham, Sa’u, Evalds, Lui, Littlejohn, Mossop, Tomkins, Tasi, McCarthy, Jones, Flanagan
Interchanges: Kopczak, Burgess, Nakubuwai, Wood
St Helens Scorers: Tries- Makinson (25’), Barba (35’, 45’), McCarthy-Scarsbrook (69’), Lomax (72’), Thompson (80’)
Goals- Richardson (46’, 49’, 70’, 73′, 80’)
Salford Scorers: Tries- N/A
Goals– O’Brien (17’)
Man of the Match: Josh Wood
Referee: S.Mikalauskas 
Touch Judges: G.Jones, M.Craven
In Goal Judges: T.Owen, J.Butterfield
Attendance: 10,008
By Ryan Booth

Flashback | St Helens 14-10 Salford Red Devils | Friday 22nd March 2013

Ahead of tomorrow’s game at St Helens we take a look down memory lane to a previous Betfred Super League fixture at the Totally Wicked Stadium with stark similarities to this weekend’s.
Alan Hunte’s Salford travelled to St Helens in round eight of the 2013 Super League season and despite the game taking place in late March the pitch was covered in snow.
The conditions made it a difficult affair for both sides with the hosts going into the interval just 6-0 ahead thanks to an Ade Gardner try and a penalty goal from debutant Lewis Charnock.
But, it was St Helens who continued to control the game in the second-half as Francis Meli crossed following a break from now Red Devil Josh Jones. This was alongside two more goals from Charnock to seemingly put the game out of the reach of the Red Devils.
However, Salford almost clawed back a result as Jordan James put half-back Liam Foran through a gap to score before Marc Sneyd made it two quick fire tries for the visitors. A successful conversion narrowed the arrears further but Salford’s winless away run continued.
Salford Interim Head Coach Alan Hunte said: “We were down to the bare bones at the end, but the performance was very pleasing I thought we deserved something.
“Both sides rolled up their sleeves in the conditions and there was little between the teams. They had that little bit of quality to get over the line.
“In the first 10 or 15 minutes of the second half we needed to put pressure on but did not manage to do that and that gave Saints confidence, but I could not ask any more of our guys.”
The teams that day:
St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Turner, Jones, Meli; Charnock, Wilkin; Perry, Ashe, Puletua, Manu, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Flanagan. Interchanges: Soliola, Clough, Walmsley, Speakman.
Salford: Sneyd; D. Williams, Gleeson, Gibson, Broughton; Fages, Foran; Griffin, Godwin, Neal, Ashurst, Dixon, Wild. Interchanges: Howarth, Nero, Boyle, James.

Factfile | St Helens vs Salford Red Devils | Sunday 4th March

Ahead of Sunday’s Betfred Super League clash with St Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium we take a look at the facts behind this fixture.
Saints are somewhat of a bogey team for Salford however the Red Devils have begun to curve that in recent seasons with two wins against St Helens in their last five meetings with the six-time Betfred Super League winners.
Both of these victories came at the AJ Bell Stadium with a comfortable 44-10 win in 2016 followed by a 22-14 victory in round eight of the 2017 Betfred Super League season.
However, it’s on the road where the difficulties lie for Salford as they are without a win at St Helens since 1980. The closest the Red Devils have come to edging out Saints at St Helens came last season when a last-minute drop-goal from former Red Devil Matty Smith sealed a win for Justin Holbrook’s side.
Overall in the Super League era, Salford have won six times against St Helens while the hosts have won 36 times against the Red Devils. There is yet to be a draw between the two sides in the Betfred Super League.
Last weekend Niall Evalds crossed twice in a convincing 36-12 victory over Hull Kingston Rovers at the AJ Bell Stadium and in the process became the first-ever Salford player to score in each of the opening games of a Betfred Super League season.
Evalds also enjoys playing at the Totally Wicked Stadium as the versatile back scored twice in the narrow 25-24 loss at St Helens last season. In fact, Evalds has scored in his last four competitive outings including a try in the final game of the 2017 season which came against St Helens.
As for Saints – they also have a regular threat against Salford. Prop-forward Alex Walmsley has scored three tries in his last three appearances against Salford including a brace in last season’s Super 8’s clash between the sides in late September.
Played for both
There are a host of former St Helens players in Ian Watson’s 19-man squad for this weekend. Prop-forward Lama Tasi spent time at the Totally Wicked Stadium between his two stints with the Red Devils while Josh Jones and Mark Flanagan were both part of St Helens’ 2014 Betfred Super League Grand Final winning team.
Gareth O’Brien also earned seven appearances with the Saints on loan from Warrington Wolves.
St Helens half-back duo Matty Smith and Theo Fages both enjoyed spells at the AJ Bell Stadium. Smith’s original stint in 2010 was on loan from St Helens before joining the Red Devils on a permanent basis. Fages came through the ranks at Salford and went on to make over 65 appearances for Salford before signing St Helens in 2016.


Danny Barton Assesses The Fortunes Of His U16s Squad Over The 2018 Season
With their 56-22 defeat of Featherstone last weekend, the Red section of the U16s squad simultaneously brought down the curtain on their 2018 mini-season, whilst bringing the overall tally of wins to a most creditable seven out of eight outings, with the one loss coming with the visit by the Black group to Leigh.
For Player Development Manager, Danny Barton, this was an extremely satisfying outcome, and just reward for all the work, which he, and his coaching staff, have put in with the players during the build up to, and during the season itself.
“Winning so many of our games has completely surpassed the expectations I had at the start of the season,” he divulges.  “The players have really improved from where they left off last year, and we now need to take that forward into next year.”
He is convinced that much of the success has come as a result of the culture which the coaches have engendered within the group.
“It’s all about providing the environment in which to get the best out of each of them,” he believes, “and that is what we try to set up all the time, by giving them little clues and tips of how to go about things, rather than being overly directive.”
Despite such a high success rate, Danny  has no difficulty in singling out two of the matches which gave him greatest satisfaction.
“Going up to Newcastle with the Red side, to take on a particularly strong and physically superior home side, was great,” he considers.  “We went 12-0 behind, but from that point on the lads really dug in well, and turned that deficit into 40-18 victory.
“Likewise, when the Black team defeated Featherstone, upon their previous visit here, they, too, had had to stand up to some really big players.”
Now that the season has come to an end, the task of keeping in contact with, and monitoring the progress and performances of the players with their amateur clubs begins.
“We had a meeting with them all and their parents, last Monday evening, when we outlined the details of future arrangements, and were overwhelmed with the uptake from them,” Danny explains.  “This means that the majority of this U16s squad will be progressing to join the U19s College Academy in six months’ time, for their pre-season training.
“There will be a good nucleus of talent there, some of whom we feel will be capable of progressing into the first team.”
Before then, however, the whole group will be returning at the end of March for their Awards Evening to celebrate what has been a wholly successful season.