Tag: Andy Ackers

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V LEEDS (2)

Just six weeks after the Leeds Rhinos had been beaten 26-12, at the A J Bell Stadium, in Round 6, they returned for a repeat encounter, yesterday, when they, once more, had to return back over the Pennines, having lost again, and by a score remarkably similar to that first fixture.

Things had moved on apace between the two matches, though, with the visitors playing this, their first match under the supervision of brand-new coach, Rohan Smith, and the significance of any team performing under the eagle eye of a new man at the top, cannot be overstated.  All too often, this additional pressure suffices to bring out in them a sudden return to form, with an unexpected victory to welcome their new coach’s tenure at the club.

Salford, on the other hand, following a somewhat disappointing Easter weekend, at Warrington and then at home to Catalans, had suddenly produced a vein of form we had not seen in previous rounds, in the closest of contests at Wigan, and then St Helens.  Indeed, the match at St Helens could have gone either way, and many left the Totally Wicked Stadium convinced that the better team had lost.

The return of a number of players, who had missed those two outings, served to bolster them for this contest, as did the inclusion, on the bench, of new signing, Tyler Dupree, who had only completed his move to join the Reds at the start of the week, but, nevertheless, played his part in producing our fourth win of the season.

The first half produced a most intriguing contest between what, in the early stages of the game, appeared to be two evenly matched sides, and judged solely upon the very few stoppages throughout the forty, provided spectators on both sides with full value for money.

When the stalemate was eventually broken, it was Salford who took the match to another level with two extremely well-supported tries.  In fact, three of their four such scores were built on support work of the highest order, and were a sheer joy to watch, with Deon Cross, once again showing what a class act he is at centre, feeding Ken Sio for the opening try, in almost identical fashion to the one which had turned the previous Leeds encounter in Salford’s favour.

Sio was unfortunate not to increase his tally on a couple of other occasions, the clearest of which chances, unusually, saw him unable to fully control the ball as he received it.  Only two minutes after taking the lead, the Red Devils showed that they are every bit as lethal on either flank, when good work from Jack Ormoroyd put Tim Lafae in the clear, and his pass  gave Joe Burgess a clear run to the line.

It was sheer intensive pressure which produced their third score, with Leeds’s defence thrown into turmoil by Brodie Croft’s kick to the try line  being fumbled, and Andy Ackers benefiting from being in the right place at the right time to ground between the posts.

So intense had the opening forty minutes proven to be that by the middle of the second period, both sides began to look quite tired, yet were still prepared to give whatever they could to the game.  The second half was therefore a rather less spectacular affair, with a stalemate developing between the pair with errors through fatigue increasing, though, with a twelve-point lead, it was Salford in whose favour time marched on.

The acquisition of a single point, from a Marc Sneyd drop goal, was undoubtedly the most crucial event of the half, for, if the Rhinos were finding it troublesome eating into a two-score lead, they were certainly going to have problems scoring, on three occasions.  Almost as if to celebrate that fact, the Reds took the game beyond the visitors, when man of the match Croft made a clean break to set up the supporting Ryan Brierley for the final try.

Exciting, and rewarding, as their attack was, it was their absolutely magnificent defence, during the arm-wrestles which developed in both halves, that kept them in control throughout.  Two, incredible one-on-one tackles, midway through the first half, by Kallum Watkins and then Cross, close to their own line, must have been sheer inspiration to the rest of the side, particularly when the going got really tough, in the later stages.

That they kept Leeds to only a pair of tries, one in each half and  with these having relatively little impact on the game. was testament to their commitment, throughout.  Leeds might not have been at their best, but the same was also said about both Wigan and St Helens.

The common factor in all of these fixtures has been the Red Devils’ resilience in repelling and thwarting all three sides over the full eighty minutes, and while they continue to do this, they will win far more matches than they lose.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: WARRINGTON V SALFORD

The travelling Salford Faithful who had made the trip to support their favourites at the Halliwell-Jones Stadium, in the Rivals Round against Warrington Wolves, must have left the ground wondering what has gone wrong with the Reds’ defence over the past couple of games, for it was only three weeks ago that they had limited Wigan to three tries only, despite the Warriors having a significant proportion of possession and field position.  One week earlier, Leeds had been kept try-less in the second half allowing the Red Devils to capitalise with a 26-12 home victory.

Since then, however, a total of eleven tries has been leaked, with some tackling being of quite questionable quality.  Both Wakefield and Warrington exploited Salford’s right edge defensive frailty, with the Wolves scoring four of their five tries on their left wing through King (3) and Ashton (2).

It had been the Red Devils’ attack which had been a matter of concern until recently, but, having equalled Wakefield’s scoring tally last week, they notched another three against this week’s hosts, on Thursday evening, from Ken Sio who latched onto Brierley’s kick into his corner on the stroke of half-time, Andy Ackers who scooted over from a play-the-ball close to the Wolves’ line, and Ryan Brierley who brought the curtain down on the game with a last gasp score.

Good as those tries were, there were a number of other occasions when the Reds came close to additional scores, particularly in the second half, during which the visitors built several periods of pressure.  There were a number of occasions when potential tries failed to satisfy the referee sufficiently for him to award them.

Infuriatingly, the first of these led to a twelve-point whammy, with the home side utilising the subsequent seven-tackle restart, by scoring from that final, extra play-the-ball.  Sneyd’s kick into the in-goal area, had been initially adjudged to have been grounded by a Warrington defender which would have then led to a goal-line drop-out, but the verdict of the in-goal judge was that Brierley had first fumbled the ball over the line, and so a twenty-metre restart was determined.

Shortly afterwards, Burgess was tackled into touch before he could ground the ball, then Sio was tackled with the ball almost in touching distance of the line, and finally a Warrington defender managed to get himself between the ball and the ground, as he tackled Taylor over the line.  All were evidence of the Reds’ vastly improved attacking play, but thwarted, on the night, by extremely determined Warrington defending, the like of which Salford would have benefited from copying.

A significant total of five goal-line drop-outs was further evidence of the extent to which the Red Devils tested their hosts’ goal-line defence, with the majority of these coming as a result of a home defender having to make the ball dead, either by grounding it in-goal, or being tackled over the dead-ball line.

It is widely regarded that the acquisition of eighteen points should be a match-winning score.  That this proved to be far from the case, on Thursday, was purely down to the six tries scored by Warrington, who were allowed to play the game at whatever pace suited them at the time.  One particular set-of-six, towards the end of the first half, saw them up and playing the ball at exceptional speeds and consequently making remarkable progress up the field, in hardly any time at all.

It is up to the defending side to control this, by various options which do not incur the wrath of the referee.  That, with a mere thirty seconds left on the clock, the penalty count was an incredible eight to two, in favour of the Wolves, would seem to indicate a lack of success in this area.  Salford’s tally was actually doubled, in the dying moments, by some gamesmanship from the home side which led to their reduction to twelve players, and Brierley’s last-ditch score.

There have been a number of games now which have produced a mixed bag of performances, but it is producing balanced consistency throughout the full eighty minutes, which will return them to return to winning ways.  An Easter Monday home game against the Catalans Dragons would be the ideal place to start.

Aspey – “I made sure I gave everything one hundred percent”

Salford Red Devils youngster Connor Aspey has signed a one-year deal with the first team following his two-month trial. 

A product of the youth system, Aspey has signed for the 2021 Betfred Super League season following a two-month trial funded by the Supporters’ Trust and is pleased his efforts have paid off.

The 18-year-old said: “I just had the mentality to do my best in everything that I did.

“I couldn’t be slacking on anything, even if it’s just jogging in or getting onside. I made sure I gave everything one hundred percent.”

Despite the hard work that has been required from him, Aspey is enjoying preseason under new head coach Richard Marshall and the Club’s new head of Strength & Conditioning Gareth Whittaker.

“It’s been good but tough, especially with Gaz (Gareth) coming in, the new conditioner, it’s quite different from what we’ve been used to,” Aspey added.

“Rich really cracks down on your skill, so he’s getting all of us better with the ball.”

The hooker also spoke about how training with the more experienced players has helped him improve his game.

Aspey said: “It’s good having them there, especially if you need to ask something or you need tipping up on something they’ll always help.

“Especially Andy Ackers as well, he’s obviously a hooker like myself and he’s always giving me little tips and helping me out along the way.”

With Paul Rowley appointed as the Club’s first head of rugby development, talent & pathways recently, the focus is on seeing more young, local players break into the first team.

Coming through the academy ran by Salford Red Devils Foundation before stepping into the reserves grade in 2020, Aspey is a prime example of how Salford are investing in youth following the signing of his contract.

“I think it’s important to get that youth up and going, a lot of young lads go missing.

“I just think the youngsters like myself need to work our hardest, do the best we can and show what we’ve got when we play.”

The hooker made his debut for Salford against Hull Kingston Rovers in Super League last season and is hoping to build on that in 2021.

Aspey added: “I just want to get some appearances, especially in Super League this year.

“I want to get some games under my belt and show people what I can do.”