Tag: Betfred Challenge Cup

SALFORD SIGN SITA AKAUOLA

As recruitment continues for 2022 and onwards, Salford Red Devils are delighted to announce the signing of Sitaleki Akauola on a two-year deal.

Prop Akauola arrives from fellow Betfred Super League side Warrington Wolves, who with he won the Betfred Challenge Cup in 2019.

The 29-year-old, who has represented his country Tonga at international level, started his professional rugby league career in the NRL for West Tigers and then Penrith Panthers, before moving to the UK in 2019 to sign for the Wire in 2019.

Speaking on signing for Salford, Akauola said: “I’m really looking forward to playing for Salford, it’s a club with passion and ambition.

“It’ll be great to be playing in front of that Salford faithful, who I know are a massive part of Salford Red Devils.”

Director of rugby and operations Ian Blease added:  “Sita wanted to come to Salford to show what a quality player he really is and he is a fantastic acquisition for the Club, as we look to challenge at the top of Super League again.

“He adds size, strength, athleticism and versatility to the pack and I look forward to seeing him rip it up in a Salford shirt.”

Red Devils recruitment is sponsored by Morson Group.

Join Sita in 2022 by purchasing an early bird season ticket HERE.

“I’m enjoying my rugby” – Rhys Williams extends contract

Salford Red Devils are pleased to announce that winger Rhys Williams has extended his contract until at least the end of the 2023 season. 

The Welshman joined the club from London Broncos ahead of the 2020 season and helped Salford reach their first Betfred Challenge Cup Final in 51 years, scoring one of the most standout Wembley tries in the history of the competition.

In 38 appearances, Williams has scored 11 tries for Salford and has been one of the most consistent players in the squad since his arrival last year.

Speaking on why he decided to extend his stay, Williams said: “I’m enjoying my rugby. As long as I’m happy and I’m enjoying being around the team and working hard for them, then that’s good enough for me.

“I pride myself on my consistency and professionalism, and I aim to continue bringing that every week to put in a good performance come game day.”

The 31-year-old has had little experience of the Salford faithful before COVID-19 hit, so Williams is looking forward to playing in front of unrestricted crowds again.

I’m very excited. It was hard times with no crowds, especially at Wembley, so to get out on front of the fans is such a buzz and another reason why I wanted to commit to another 2 years.”

Speaking on Rhys’  contract extension, head coach Richard Marshall said: “I’m delighted to have Rhys extend his stay here at Salford, as one of my main goals for 2022 and onwards is to keep the core of our squad together.

“Rhys is an established international player and is consistently good on the wing each week. I’m looking forward to building on the great relationship I already have with him.”

Director of rugby and operations Ian Blease added: “I am delighted in getting Rhys to agree a new deal with the Salford Red Devils. Rhys has been up there as one of our best players for the last few years and has been a tremendous acquisition for the club since we signed him.

“An ultimate professional with ambition to win every game, he is a player with an exemplary attitude, with total and absolute commitment for our club.  I am so pleased that I’ve been able to agree the deal that will keep Rhys at the club for the next two years.”

Join Rhys at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday 13th August when we host Huddersfield Giants for Round 19 of the Betfred Super League. Buy your tickets HERE.

Rugby league fans urged to follow the Wembley template

Today’s fourth step in the UK Government’s Covid roadmap allows for venues returning to full capacity, with no social distancing. 

That means another significant step back to normality for rugby league clubs and fans in this week’s fixtures, starting with the Betfred Women’s Super League match between York City Knights and Wigan Warriors at Odsal tonight – and continuing through the Betfred Super League, Championship, League 1 and the Community Game. 

Throughout the pandemic, the RFL has been working closely with Government and with clubs and other stakeholders – and that has continued in the preparations for Stage 4. 

Karen Moorhouse, the RFL’s Chief Regulatory Officer, said: This week is another big step back to normality for our clubs and fans, and it comes at a positive time for the sport as we reflect on the success of the weekend at Wembley. 

“We have been grateful since the limited return of fans to grounds in recent weeks for the way our clubs and fans have worked together in a responsible manner, and the weekend was a great example of that. 

“To be included in the Government’s Events Research Programme allowed us to welcome a much higher crowd to Wembley than would otherwise have been the case, and the supporters of the four clubs involved – Castleford Tigers, Featherstone Rovers, St Helens and York City Knights – as well as the thousands of neutrals who attend our Challenge Cup Final weekend were a credit to the game. 

“This year that involved providing evidence of either a negative Covid-19 test or of having had a double vaccination to gain entry to the stadium – and while that won’t be required to attend regular league matches this week now we have reached Stage 4, we would still encourage supporters to bear in mind Government guidance where possible. 

“The Government refers to Stage 4 as ‘a new phase of continued caution whilst managing the risks of COVID-19’. We all owe it to each other to be as safe and responsible as possible to restrict the spread of the virus. 

“The same applies to all involved in the Community Game, whether as players or spectators. Again, Stage 4 of the Roadmap involves the removal of a number of restrictions – and again, we are urging clubs and players to implement these changes cautiously and responsibly.” 

Rugby League is joining other sports in requesting supporters to bear the following in mind before attending games: 

·       Do not attend if you have symptoms or are in any doubt about your health. 

·       Please vaccinate where possible to maximise protection to fellow supporters and members of staff.  Vaccination remains a key priority in the response to the pandemic. 

·       Use the Government’s offer of free lateral flow tests; consider taking one before you travel. 

·       If travelling via public transport, please adhere to the relevant guidance. 

·       Respect the rules of the venue you are attending and check in advance to see what is required. 

·       Wear face coverings in busy indoor areas  

·       Ensure you are familiar with social distancing restrictions where these apply  

·       Treat stewards with respect and respond to their requests. 

The RFL is continuing to work with clubs to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all. 

Salford Red Devils’ next home game comes on Thursday 29 July, when we welcome Hull Kingston Rovers to the AJ Bell Stadium.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: CASTLEFORD V SALFORD | BETFRED CHALLENGE CUP QUARTER-FINAL

The pain of any loss in a sudden-death cup-tie is bad enough when one side has clearly been the better of the two, but when there is virtually nothing to choose between either of them then it is considerably worse for those on the losing side.  The parity of the two teams in Saturday’s Betfred Challenge Cup Quarter-Final was underlined by the 18-18 draw at the end of eighty minutes, before moving into Golden Point extra time.

To lose in those circumstances is really heart-breaking, and takes so much longer to get over than the average, run-of-the-mill, league game.  For the more neutral-minded general public, however, this must have been the most riveting and enjoyable spectacle – a game balanced on a knife edge, with cut and thrust, thrills and spills, fifty-fifty decisions, an abundance of ifs and buts, the momentum swaying from one side to the other, and the result in doubt right up to that Golden Point drop-goal, one and a half minutes into extra time.

It takes two good teams to make a really good game, but this was a great game which did rugby league a world of good being as it was on national television, and everyone connected with the club can take great pride in our team’s contribution to such an excellent evening’s entertainment.

Not that it looked that way in the early stages, with Salford players really struggling to cope with holding onto possession.  With the ball being lost in the earliest of stages in several sets, it did give the impression that they have not, as yet, fully come to terms with the new laws on ball stealing, which are significantly more relaxed.

As if to make up for this, it was Salford, who, on their first real foray into the Castleford twenty metre area, opened the scoring, when Harvey Livett continued his scoring run by falling onto a loose ball in Castleford’s in-goal area, after having contested against Derrell Olpherts for possession in the air, from Kevin Brown’s high kick.  He also continued his one hundred percent goal kicking record for not only this, but the two subsequent Red Devils’ tries.

Indeed. It was both teams’ ability to cross their opponents’ line, just when it looked as though that was not to happen, which kept spectators on the edge of their lounge seats.  Twice Salford took the lead in the first half only to fall behind for the first time, 18-12, midway through the second half.

It has often been said that it is not how you start it is how you finish, that really matters, and for those who witnessed the Salford onslaught on the Castleford line and defence, in the final quarter, will swear testimony.  The never-say-die Red Devils launched wave after wave of attacks which had the Tigers back-pedalling, and stretched to capacity.  The kicking game, which had been excellent throughout, was now matched by slick, confident handling skills.

Twice Salford players crossed the Tigers’ line, and a further twice kicks into the in-goal area were within inches of bringing about a score, only for each to be ruled out by the combined adjudications of the match officials.  Some will feel some sympathy for the Yorkshire side’s being twice reduced to twelve men, and very briefly eleven, but, in truth, it was as a result of the tremendous pressure under which their whole team was under, which led to their indiscretions.

It has been said that the end-of-set charge-down, from the speedy Paul McShane, was the determining factor in the whole game, but there was possibly an even greater one, which came forty-five seconds before the half-time hooter sounded.  Castleford crossed for an equalising six-pointer, against a tiring defence which failed to number up and snuff out the attack, unlike the magnificent efforts that had nullified the Tigers for so much of the game.

Had Salford retaken the field for the second forty, still six points in the lead, the likelihood of extra time might never have materialised.  And that tiring defence was, one must assume, as a consequence of all the extra tackling forced upon them, as a result of all the aforementioned lost possession, in that opening quarter.

If only the magnificent Lee Mossop’s seventy-ninth minute try had come several minutes earlier by means of one of those near misses, there would have been enough time for the momentum, which they had generated, to take them over for a winning score before the final hooter.  As it was, the break in play, prior to the onset of extra time, served to bring some respite to the beleaguered Castleford side, affording them the opportunity to regroup and also retake the field with a full complement, including the deadly kicking boot of Gareth O’Brien.

It was not to be, sadly, but knowledge of all the neutrals whom they must surely have won round with such a spirited, dedicated, and enthusiastic performance, will enable all Salford supporters to hold their heads high and celebrate their team’s exceptional progress and improvement over the past seven days, which oh so nearly turned the tables on the team which had beaten them last week with much greater comfort.

Kevin Brown – “It’s work time”

Despite being 36 years old, Salford Red Devils’ number 7, Kevin Brown, is feeling as sharp as ever.

The halfback is one of the most senior players in the squad, but he won’t let age dictate his condition and his performances.  scoring two tries in last weekend’s win over Leigh Centurions.

Brown said: “My body’s feeling unbelievable.

“I’ve played 5 games now this year, at the age of 36 I’m feeling fantastic and hopefully I’ll build on the form I’ve been performing at.”

Brown is eager to build on his side’s first win of the 2021 Betfred Super League season last week and insists with a fully fit squad, Salford can provideown  plenty of excitement to this year.

“We’ve had quite a few injuries and we’ve not wanted to talk about it,” said Brown.

“But the quality of Danny Addy, Kallum Watkins, Joe Burgess still to come in is something that really excites me.”

Second in command at Salford, Brown has become a leader in the dressing room, on and off the field.

Brown added: “I think my role has been pretty similar for the last 10 years.

“That’s to make everyone else understand the coaches plans on the game plan, really push and understand where they need to be and attack and try and lead by example.

“That’s my role as a player and the vice-captain of the club. Number one is to play well and then closely followed by getting everyone in position and letting them know what the coach wants.”

Salford welcome Castleford Tigers to the A.J Bell stadium this evening, before the two sides face off again next week in the Betfred Challenge Cup Quarter-Final.

“We’ve done some video on them, for me they’re the best attacking side in the competition… they have been for a number of years.”

“It’s work time this week, there’s a lot of work to do. We want to go on a run now and put some back-to-back performances in.”

Due to the social media boycott that Salford Red Devils are in support of, live coverage of tonight’s Round 5 clash with Castleford will not be provided by the club, but will be available on the Betfred Super League website.

Written by: Callum Williams

Ormondroyd – “My goal is to try and nail down a spot in the team every week”

Prop Jack Ormondroyd seized on his opportunity last Saturday, capping off his great performance against Widnes Vikings in the Betfred Challenge Cup with a Man of the Match honour.

Now Ormondroyd will be knocking on head coach Richard Marshall’s door for a consistent spot in the starting line-up.

“My goal is to try and nail down a spot in the team every week,” Ormondroyd said.

“I had a meeting with Rich (Richard Marshall) and Danny (Orr) pre-season, and we set some goals and that was one of my goals. I’ve put quite a lot of work in pre-season and hopefully Rich and Danny have seen that and hopefully it will pull off.”

The number 25 made 7 appearances in his debut season in Salford last term. By his own account, Ormondroyd believes his performance against Widnes is a way to help nail down his spot in the Salford team.

There were also a lot of opportunities handed to new signings, with players such as Morgan Escare, Darcy Lussick and Matt Costello all featuring in the weekend’s win.

Ormondroyd talked about building chemistry with the newer players in the squad and the harmony within the dressing room.

“With all new teams it takes quite a bit of time to gel. I think we’ve had a long pre-season, we met up the week before Christmas, so we’ve had a lot of time now together. All the new lads are good lads.”

“That’s a big thing here at Salford, we talked about it a lot last year and this year. I’ve been good mates with everyone, having no bad eggs in the team, and that goes a really long way in making you a successful team. Everybody wants to work hard for each other and work hard for the coach as well. “

The Red Devils return to Betfred Super League action this Saturday against Catalans Dragons in Perpignan. Catalans have won all three of their opening games this season and Ormondroyd knows they are going to be a tough test.

Ormondroyd added: “It will be a tough game. They’ve got a big pack, but I think it’s a good chance for us.

“We didn’t have two great performances in our last two, so we talked about restarting our season against Widnes. It’s a step up this week.”

Image credit: Steve McCormick

Written by: Callum Williams

Marshall – “He’s a shining star for us”

Head coach Richard Marshall was delighted with a number of individual performances from his Red Devils side in last Saturday’s comfortable victory over Widnes Vikings in the Betfred Challenge Cup.

 The dominant 68-4 victory over Widnes booked the Red Devils a place in the Quarter-Finals of the Betfred Challenge Cup, in what was Marshall’s first runout in the competition as the Salford head coach. 

 The victory was highlighted by a Man of the Match performance from Jack Ormondroyd, and Morgan Escare and Matt Costello both picking up two tries each on their debuts for Salford.

 It was a particularly great afternoon for Ormondroyd, who repeatedly broke the Widnes line and looked a constant threat, capping his Man of the Match performance with a try of his own. 

 Speaking on Salford’s number 25, Marshall said: “He’s one of those unsung heroes within our team. He had a really good, solid game for us, he looked strong in contact, but his challenge would be to do that every week.

 “Hes probably on the periphery of the first team at our club. He’s not a young man anymore, if he wants to be Super League player, hes going to have to play week in, week out against the best team and packs in the country. 

“He’s been good over the past couple of weeks so he’s a shining star for us.”  

 Marshall was also full of praise for Escare and Costello.

 “They’ve obviously been knocking on the door the last couple of weeks,” Marshall added.

“Both new players to our club and both took their opportunities really, really well. I thought defensively, Matt had some reads when challenged and I thought Morgan was everywhere… he’s electric. They’ll gain a lot of confidence.” 

 Despite the blowout win, Marshall still acknowledged the effort put in from Widnes, in a contest that began quite evenly matched.

Marshall said: They had some quality in their troops. I thought their half backs had a good go and challenged us at times. But for our guys we scored some wonderful points.

“Albeit it was against a Championship side, but you’ve still got to score, make breaks, offload and from that point of view it was really encouraging.”  

Salford travel to Castleford Tigers in the Betfred Challenge Cup Quarter-Final, which will be contested over the first weekend of May.

Image credit: Steve McCormick

Written by: Callum Williams

MATCH REPORT | SALFORD RED DEVILS 68-4 WIDNES VIKINGS | SATURDAY 10TH APRIL 2021

Salford Red Devils booked themselves a place in the Betfred Challenge Cup Quarter-Final this afternoon with a dominant 68-4 victory over Widnes Vikings.

In what was Richard Marshall’s first Betfred Challenge Cup game as Salford head coach, the Red Devils responded massively to recent defeats, with debutants Morgan Escare and Matt Costello both picking up two tries each.

It was the Frenchman Escare who opened the scoring at the AJ Bell Stadium in the 13th minute, strolling over after Jack Ormondroyd, today’s Man of the Match, broke the Widnes line to set Escare up.

Costello picked up a debut try of his own five minutes later, scrambling over the line to the left of the sticks to extend Salford’s lead.

The number 24 then scored another in the 22nd minute, opening Widnes up with a dummy pass before darting over the line down the left.

Darcy Lussick came on for Lee Mossop in the 23rd minute to make his debut for the Red Devils, and just over ten minutes later Tui Lolohea added to Salford’s lead.

Welshman Rhys Williams breached the Widnes line with a fantastic run and set up Lolohea who was just fast enough to make it to the line and ground the ball in the 35th minute.

Just before the half-time hooter, Widnes got themselves onto the scoreboard for the first and only time of the afternoon through Daniel Hill down the left flank.

Half-time: Salford Red Devils 24-4 Widnes Vikings

Four minutes into the second forty, Dec Patton scrambled over the line to the left of the posts to score his first try as a Red Devil.

Andy Ackers entered the field four minutes later for Lolohea, and scored a try of his own within the first minute of being on the pitch.

Seb Ikahihifo powered over two minutes before the hour mark for his first try of 2021, the Widnes defence no match for Salford’s number 10.

Kallum Watkins went over in the 64th minute after some quality link-up play with Pauli Pauli, who powered through a handful of Widnes players to set Watkins up to the right of the sticks.

Ormondroyd, who had been a handful all afternoon for the Vikings, broke the Widnes line again in the 73rd minute and this time grounded the ball himself.

Three more tries from Rhys Williams, Morgan Escare and Chris Atkin rounded off what was a spectacular performance for Salford Red Devils, who progress to the Quarter-Final of the Betfred Challenge Cup.

Fulltime: Salford Red Devils 68-4 Widnes Vikings

Salford Red Devils: Escare, Williams, Watkins, Inu, Lolohea, Ormondroyd, Patton, Mossop, Livett, Pauli, Wells, Roberts, Ackers, Lussick, Ikahihifo.

Widnes Vikings: Hill, Cross, Spedding, Roby, Buckley, Craven, Smith, Grady, Else, Jewitt, Tyrer, Lawton, Owens, Lyons, Clough, Tilleke, Wilde.

Salford tries: Escare (2), Costello (2), Lolohea, Patton, Ackers, Ikahihifo, Watkins, Ormondroyd, Williams, Atkin.

Salford goals: Inu (10/12)

Widnes tries: Hill

Referee: Scott Mikalauskas

Image credit: Steve McCormick

Marshall – “We’re ready for the challenge”

Head Coach Richard Marshall has said that he wants his Salford Red Devils team to produce quality performances at the AJ Bell stadium ahead of the team’s first competitive home game of the season.

Salford will face Widnes Vikings in the Third Round of the Betfred Challenge Cup on Saturday, and Marshall expressed that he was looking forward to the match.

Marshall said: “We played a couple of friendlies here and I thought we played really well in them.

“We want to play really well at home this year, and we’ve got an opportunity this week to do that.”

While the match will be played without fans in attendance, Marshall explained he was relishing the return of fans, saying that he looked forward to building a rapport with the local community.

Marshall added: “I want to get a relationship with our support and our local community.

“The lifeblood of our game is our fans, and we want to repay them with our performances on the pitch.”

Salford will be the favourites when they face Widnes, but Marshall warned against underestimating the Betfred Championship side.

“I’m sure Widnes will be coming with a really concise game plan and try to unnerve and rattle us,” Marshall explained.

“The Championship teams come with lots of energy, lots of enthusiasm and a really good simple plan.”

Marshall revealed that he wanted to strike a balance between selecting a strong team and rotation but would be forced in to making some certain changes, confirming that both Dan Sarginson and Elijah Taylor will be out through injury. Kevin Brown is also unavailable due to suspension.

Marshall said: “We want to win this game and progress in the Challenge Cup.

“We’ve got some fringe players that have not played and who I’ve not had a look at yet, but at the same time we’ve not found our rhythm.

“We want to put a strong team out and we want to go and win the game.

“We’re ready for the challenge.”

Image credit: Steve McCormick

Written by: Patrick Ryan

Josh Johnson – “We want to get some silverware”

Salford Red Devils prop Josh Johnson believes his side are on the road to more memorable occasions this season, despite a rocky start so far.

Speaking after making his return from injury against Hull FC last Saturday, Johnson remained confident that the Red Devils were on track to compete over the course of the Betfred Super League season and that fresh faces in both the staff and the squad had brought a new energy to the team.

Johnson said: “It is quite refreshing having new people come in because it brings new ideas, new drills, just a whole different thing, a new set of eyes looking on what we are doing. So, on a personal note, it has probably helped me so I think it can only push us on even further.

“Our ambitions this year are no different, we want to get some silverware and we have come up short twice now.

“I think everyone in the squad and the new additions we have brought in, we are all heading in the same direction and I think we are going to turn it around and get to some more big occasions and get some silverware.”

On the prospect of facing Widnes Vikings in Round Three of the Betfred Challenge Cup this Saturday, Johnson is ready for what he believes is still going to be a tough test against a strong Betfred Championship side.

“Widnes are a tough opposition, like you say they are in the Championship, but that gives them that extra bit of hunger to try to turn us over, so we have got to be ready for that this weekend.

“I think they will come with a lot of hunger and aggression and I think we will need to match it and out enthuse them and our talented players in our squad will overcome them and I am confident we will get the win.”

You can purchase an Our League game day pass for Salford’s Third Round tie against Widnes Vikings HERE, at an early bird price of £4.95.

Image credit: Steve McCormick

Written by: Megan Wellens