Tag: Chris Atkin

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH:  ST HELENS V SALFORD

Anyone who had felt that the Red Devils would not be able to follow up their vastly improved performance at Wigan with anything similar, only five days later, against the current Super League Champions, again on their own ground, must have had one almighty shock.  Not only did the Reds repeat their dominant performance of the previous week at the Totally Wicked Stadium, they improved on it even further.

Whereas at the DW, everyone had left feeling disappointed at our not managing to take the Warriors into Golden Point Extra Time, last night we were all disappointed that we had not won, for indeed, over the eighty minutes, Salford were the better team.

In fact, St Helens can consider themselves rather lucky to have come away with the points, and indeed there were many of their fair-minded supporters who readily acknowledged this.  They are renowned throughout the league for their uncompromising, physical, style of play, but, on this occasion, they came up against a team which was every bit as physical as they always are, if not the more so.

The first evidence Saints had that we were up against such a well-drilled, enterprising, and committed side, came as early as Josh Johnson’s first bone-crunching hit-up straight from the kick-off, followed in the third minute, when prop, Jack Ormondroyd, made a magnificent thirty metre break through the middle of the field.  Although that came to nothing in itself, with Brodie Croft eventually being held short of the line, the fact that Ormondroyd had torn through the defence with seeming ease, served to inspire the whole side even further.

It was, consequently, of no surprise, when, on a second foray into their hosts’ ten metre area, their slick handling carved out sufficient room for Morgan Escare’s cleverly angled running to get him over the line, and with Chris Atkin’s conversion from his only reasonably positioned goal-scoring opportunity, giving them a six-point lead.

Indeed, if you were looking for an aspect of the game in which Salford were particularly unfortunate, it was that their subsequent two attempts at goal, which included a penalty on half time and a second half conversion, were both considerable distances out.

The game changed, unfortunately, at the mid-point of the half, when carelessness in the timing of their defensive line speed, which throughout most of the game so troubled the home side, on this occasion brought Saints a penalty, at a time when they were being penned back on their line.   In one of their best sets of the match, they gained sufficiently good field position, and possession, to cross for an unconverted try.

Sadly, this proved to be not just one but two, back-to-back, scores, the second of which came most fortuitously for the Saints, from the ball ricocheting at the end-of-set kick, off Escare and into the arms of Welsby, barely a metre from the try line.

The only try of the second half came from Salford, as a result of their continued adherence to their game-plan, in which they had gone head-to-head with St Helens, set by set, giving every bit as good as they were given, in a trial of physicality.

On a couple of occasions Saints were even forced to end their sets with kicks still within their own thirty metre area, while time and again, back would come Salford, to pin them down in their own twenty.  It was from one such set that with the assistance of a set-restart, former Saint, Matt Costello, had the great pleasure of going over in the corner for an equalising try, against his former club

Even after going behind to the two penalty goals, the Red Devils were not finished.  An interception by Chris Atkin saw him race clear over seventy metres, only to be caught from behind less than ten metres from the try line.

The final minute of the half, following the sin-binning of Welsby for the professional foul of preventing a quick play-the-ball, saw St Helens having to resort to using the set-restart rule to their own defensive advantage, by which they limited the number of tackles they had to complete, in the final fifty seconds, to only three, simply by holding tackled players down for several seconds at a time, thereby preventing any properly organised assault on their line, and finally forcing one of very few Salford handling errors, to overcome the threat.

Without succeeding in winning, however, Salford players must have gained considerable confidence from their performance against such illustrious opponents.  The fact that the Saints were able to scrape home, thanks only to two kickable penalty goals in the last ten minutes, tells its own story.  All that is needed now is for this form to be taken into the next few fixtures, starting with our home game with Leeds in a fortnight’s time.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: WIGAN V SALFORD

In what was arguably their best and most consistent performance of the season, yesterday, the Salford Red Devils came within two minutes of taking the Wigan Warriors into Golden Point extra time, on their home ground of the DW Stadium.

By increasing the speed of many aspects of their play, but most noticeably their handling, Salford were able to play the game at the pace so regularly produced by the Warriors, and consequently set up some quite impressive, and on four occasions at least, most effective periods of attack.

On defence, they had to endure some lengthy periods of goal-line defence, particularly in the second half, which they did with valour and commitment, as Wigan threw everything they could in their direction, in an increasingly desperate attempt to resecure the lead, which Salford had eradicated midway through the forty.

From the early stages of the game, it quickly became apparent that both teams seemed quite capable of breaking down their opponents’ defence, on the back of more protracted periods of pressure, which consequently highlighted the importance of avoiding conceding penalties and set-restarts, and of limiting opportunities for offloads.

Indeed, Salford’s first try came as the result of Chris Atkin’s interception, which set them up in Wigan’s half, and was further aided by Wigan’s fumbling of a kick on their own line, and then conceding a penalty, both of which led to renewed sets, which ended with King Vuniyayawa crossing between the posts.

Similarly, Wigan’s response, five minutes later, came as the result of a penalty for a careless high tackle on the last of a set, followed by a further set-restart.  Two of Salford’s other tries, their second from Matt Costello and their third from Alex Gerrard, came from the benefit of a seven-tackle set, following overly powered Wigan kicks into the in-goal area which ran into dead.

Ken Sio’s fifty-third minute interception try over seventy-metres, not only brought Salford the inspiration of drawing level, after resuming after the half-time interval facing a twelve point deficit, it was also some compensation for other assaults on the Warriors’ line, which could have brought further scores for the visitors.

Twice the irrepressible Brodie Croft was involved, once in the first half after a fine break from in his own half, and then linking up in the second half in some excellent inter-passing in front of the Wigan posts, in final passes which unfortunately failed to find their mark.  Meanwhile the influential Kallum Watkins also had the misfortune of his slick pass, delivered as he was falling to the ground in a tackle, adjudged to be forward, with the Wigan line at Ryan Brierley’s mercy.

The last fifteen minutes, however, were spent in almost total goal-line defence, the like of which has often been missing on other previous occasions.  Twice the home side successfully worked overlaps which threatened to end in tries, only for their passes to the unmarked wingers being so rushed, as a result of Salford’s defensive pressure, that the ball ended up in touch.

In the end, the game was settled by the speed of two-try Jai Field, who found sufficient space down the Salford left flank, to seal the game as only he can, with a ninety metre, six-pointer, under the Salford posts.

It is a credit to the whole team from one to seventeen, that the disappointment, for players, fans, and club officials, at the end was so great, because to come so close to winning, only to be thwarted in the dying minutes, is extremely painful.  With further performances like this, however, it will only be a matter of time, before victories start accruing, as the season progresses.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V LEEDS

Two minutes of  talent, skill, and sheer opportunism, from two of Salford’s stand out players provided the game-changing moment, in last Friday’s home encounter with the Leeds Rhinos, when the Red Devils went from being under pressure to taking the lead, and, with it, dominance and control, for the remaining ten minutes of the game.

It started with the first of the twosome, Joe Burgess, collecting an overly weighted Leeds kick into the Salford in-goal area, racing to the twenty-metre line to take the tap restart, and then scything through the Rhinos’ disjointed defence, shrugging off attempted tackles, eventually, to be pulled down close to Leeds’s twenty.

That run immediately put Salford on the front foot, as the whole team had to race up for the play-the-ball, which then passed through the hands of the still advancing attack into the arms of Dion Cross.

Showing the talent of an absolutely top-class centre, he straightened up as if to go for the score himself, but then, having drawn the defence, sent out the sweetest of passes straight into the arms of Chris Atkin to romp in at the corner.  It was a piece of skill reminiscent of our own former international centre, Martin Gleeson.

Marc Sneyd’s goal from the touchline was all that was needed to put the Red Devils into the driving seat, but the actual match winning kick had come much earlier, at the end of the first half.  An easy penalty, on the sin-binning of Brodie Thompson, from in front of the posts with only half a minute to go, was slotted over.

That goal, unremarkable as it might have seemed at the time, not only kept Salford in touch with the Rhinos for the first thirty minutes of the second half, it also ensured that Atkin’s converted try put them two points in front and gave them the same cushioning enjoyed by Hull KR, the previous week.  It, furthermore, gave them a two-score advantage, shortly afterwards, when skipper, Elijah Taylor, cut through to chalk up an eight point lead, which in turn opened the way for Ryan Brierley’s final score under the posts, after he had supported King Vuniyayawa’s brilliantly angled run.

Over the years, victories over Leeds have been very few and far between, making them all the better to savour when one does eventually come along.   This one might not have been a classic, but, if anything, the win was especially important to both sides, with them each coming off the back of a run of defeats.

The first half was as much one of missed opportunities, as chances taken, with Leeds having an Ash Handley, opening score disallowed for a double movement, after five minutes.  Joe Burgess had similar misfortune when he was slid into touch before crossing in the corner, shortly after the Rhinos had eventually opened the scoring.

In fact, Burgess’s runs down his left wing led to two tries, one in each half, for although denied this try for himself, he had put Salford on the attack, and they took advantage of the position for Ken Sio to latch onto Brierley’s kick into the corner, to level the score at six points each, after Sneyd’s first conversion.

With a score differential of only two points, at the resumption, the majority of the second half was an arm-wrestle, though with far too many errors to make it totally enthralling.  Leeds may have come out on top in the set-restarts because they gave theirs away on the first tackle of the set, whereas Salford’s were ususally well into the set, and occasionally on the very last tackle.

It was the sin-binning of two players, Thompson being replaced there by Zane Tetevano mid-way though the half, which cost them dear, leaving them with only twelve men for a total of twenty minutes.   The Reds, on the other hand kept their slate clean and the full team on duty, throughout the eighty minutes.

Now, with a visit to Wigan in the Challenge Cup, next week, Salford can only benefit from the slaying of one bogey side, to help with a repeat performance on Friday at the home of anoth

Atkin pens new deal

Salford Red Devils are delighted to announce that Chris Atkin has signed a two-year contract extension with the option for a third. 

Atkin has impressed since he arrived from Hull Kingston Rovers last year, and despite what has been a slow start to the season for the Red Devils, the 28-year-old has been one of Salford’s standout performers in 2021.

The number 18 has got himself on the scoreboard a handful of times already this season, recently scoring the winning drop goal in a hard-fought away victory over Ian Watson’s Huddersfield Giants.

Speaking on extending his Salford stay, Atkin said: “It was an easy decision to make when I sat down with the club. Salford has quickly become my home since I arrived here last year and everyone at Salford has always made me feel welcome and valued, our loyal fans included.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here so far, we’ve got a brilliant setup at Salford and I’m really looking forward to the future.”

Speaking on Atkin’s contract extension, head coach Richard Marshall said: “I’m really pleased to see Chris pen a new deal with us, he’s a quality player and a brilliant individual off the field.

“He’s been one of our most improved players this year and has really bought into our plans and the direction that our club is heading.”

Director of rugby and operations Ian Blease added: “To have Chris with us for the next two years, possibly three, is fantastic news for all involved at Salford.

“Chris is a key member of the squad and it’s great to know that he will continue to be!

“We are continuing our search for more additions for 2022 as we aim to push on from our success in recent years.”

Join Atkin at The Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Sunday afternoon, by purchasing a ticket for our Betfred Super League away clash against Castleford Tigers.

MATCH REPORT | SALFORD RED DEVILS 34-8 LEIGH CENTURIONS | FRIDAY 23 APRIL 2021

Salford Red Devils marked the return of Betfred Super League action at the AJ Bell Stadium, with a 34-8 victory over neighbours Leigh Centurions.

After trailing early on and going into the break two points behind the visitors, a strong performance in the second forty ensured Richard Marshall secured his first Betfred Super League win at the helm at Salford.

It took only six minutes for the first try of the game and it was Leigh who struck first, Matthew Russell receiving the ball down the left wing and grounding near the corner.

Salford took the lead, however, just over 15 minutes later through James Greenwood, who had only been on the field a matter of minutes in replace of the injured Matt Costello, before he powered over the Leigh line to the left of the sticks.

Leigh responded just before the half-hour mark, again finding success down the left flank and this time it was Iain Thornley who scored for the Centurions.

Half time: Salford Red Devils 6-8 Leigh Centurions

Salford came out looking the livelier outfit in the second forty and Kevin Brown put the Red Devils back in front in the 50th minute, finding a gap in the Leigh line and darting over to the right.

15 minutes later, Krisnan Inu intercepted a Leigh pass and just managed to bat the ball to Sio, who was too quick f0r the Centurions, running almost the length of the field to ground the ball down the right and pick up his third Betfred Super League try in four games.

James Greenwood, who had looked threatening ever since he came on, broke the line in the 70th minute and fed Harvey Livett who, in turn, fed Brown for his second try of the game, this time towards the left of the sticks.

Livett set up his second try in as many minutes, this time feeding Chris Atkin for his first Betfred Super League try of the season.

Livett picked up a try of his own just before the hooter, and just minutes after he saw a try ruled out for obstruction, after some great passing down the left set the number 20 up for his second Betfred Super League try in two consecutive games.

Salford welcome Castleford Tigers to the AJ Bell Stadium in a week’s time, in Round 5 of the Betfred Super League. Sign up to RDTV to hear everything Richard Marshall had to say in tonight’s post-match press conference.

Full time: Salford Red Devils 34-8 Leigh Centurions

Salford Red Devils: Kear, Sio, Inu, Costello, Williams, Lolohea, Brown, Mossop, Patton, Ikahihifo, Livett, Roberts, Wells, Greenwood, Lussick, Atkin, Burke.

Leigh Centurions: Mullen, Russell, Gelling, Thornley, Tierney, Reynolds, Brierley, McCarthy, Hood, Flower, Hellewell, Thompson, Bell, Peats, Ioane, Gerrard, Gee.

Salford tries: Greenwood, Brown, Sio, Brown, Atkin, Livett

Salford goals: Inu (5/6)

Leigh tries: Russell, Thornley

Referee: James Child

Image credit: Steve McCormick