Tag: KING VUNIYAYAWA

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

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: HULL V SALFORD

For just over fifteen highly encouraging minutes, the Salford fans who had made the journey over to Hull filled with the confidence that their  hopes and expectations were well-placed, revelled in an opening stanza, which had their hosts well and truly on the rack.

Indeed, all the firepower in those initial exchanges lay with the Red Devils, who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, and who were, consequently able to pen Hull on their own line for the bulk of this time.

They ran strongly, spread the ball swiftly and accurately, and when called upon to, tackled with energy and desire. In fact they did almost everything they could have done, except score.

Not that they were without opportunities, for they created three, but unfortunately without success, the first coming when Shane Wright was stopped by a last ditch tackle, extremely close to the line;

Soon afterwards, Brodie Croft’s kick-in-goal was just a little too strong for the chasing Ken Sio, who was unable to repeat his similar try-scoring feat from last week, and the ball had cleared the dead-ball line, before the winger got his hands to it.

Their final chance of taking the lead came with Joe Burgess’s scoot from dummy-half, only for him to be held up over the line, and shortly afterwards the whole game changed far more dramatically than anyone would have predicted.

Off the field, things had not been running as smoothly as is normally the case.  The withdrawal of James Greenwood in the warm-up led to the introduction of Ryan Lannon into the side was probably a greater cause of disruption than might be obvious with his inclusion coming not simply onto the bench, but, of necessity, directly into the starting lineup.

Then there was some confusion over an injury to Dan Sarginson, which ended up costing the team two of their allotted substitutions, and meant that players could not be rotated or rested as frequently, or for as long, as normal.  King Vuniyayawa, in particular, played a considerable number of minutes, over and above his scheduled time span.  Fatigue, and occasionally injury, can be an inevitable consequence of that.

Two wayward passes, however, were the cause of the remarkable first-half turnaround, with both leading to Hull tries on their right flank.  These were then followed shortly after by two others the first of which came down that same side of the field, and within that second period of fifteen minutes, the Humbersiders had taken a twenty points, unanswered lead.

To be fair to the Salford players at this stage, they galvanised together, and returned to producing the better aspects of their play which had been so noticeable in the first fifteen, and this time it brought benefits.

A high bomb from Marc Sneyd looked to be well-covered by the Hull defence, only for Tim Lafae to pounce from nowhere, and rob them of the possession, with a try close to the Hull posts.

A half-time deficit of fourteen points is not insurmountable, but one always had the sense that Salford had to be first to score in the second half.  They certainly seemed to be up for the task, upon the resumption, but little more than five minutes had elapsed, when they were reduced to twelve men with the sin-binning of Sneyd, after a disagreement with Hull’s Connor.

If the second period of fifteen minutes had been a game-changers, this ten minute spell was to more or less finish off the contest, for by the time Sneyd had returned, the Hull tally had ratcheted up from twenty to thirty-six points, and there was to be little way back for the visitors, thereafter.

In fact it was Hull, who further extended their lead to forty-two points, with the second of two extremely cruel bounces of the ball.  Fullback, Ryan Brierley, it had earlier been, whose attempt to deal with a low Hull kick-through, to the posts, had been so thwarted, while for this latest score the bounce prevented Burgess from making the ball safe, and on both occasions Hull chasers were on hand to take advantage of the luck which had come their way.

Nevertheless, the Red Devils  once again regrouped to share the scoring in the final twenty minutes with two of their own to match this latest, and one further final one from the home side.

The first of  Salford’s could, arguably, make claim to have been the try of the match, starting as it did with a sideways kick to hand, and the ball then passing through six pairs of hands before Sio crossed in the corner.

Tim Lafae wound up proceedings for the visiting Reds, with the second of his brace, touching down a kick through, but it was all little more than cold comfort for those connected with Salford.

Bad days at the office come round to everyone, at times.  The important thing is to learn from each, put it behind you, and in Salford’s case produce a quick and effective response, preferably at Huddersfield next week.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: CASTLEFORD V SALFORD

Getting off to a good start in anything, is often the best thing anyone could hope for, so, for Salford Red Devil’s to have travelled into Yorkshire, in the opening round of the season, and to have come away from the Mend-a-Hose Jungle with the points, is as much as anyone could have wished for, and possibly more than many might have expected. That, nevertheless, is exactly what they did, and most deservedly so.

A ten point winning margin, away at Castleford, is a notable achievement in itself, and whilst many people would have been hoping for a win, getting one so comfortably was possibly far from their expectations.  Closer scrutiny of the scoreboard reveals some interesting facts.

With three tries apiece, it was clearly the accuracy of Marc Sneyd’s goal-kicking, which eventually separated the two sides, and he certainly was a popular figure at the end, not just for that aspect of his play, but for his all round performance and impact throughout the game. 

There will be many a team during the coming season, who will lose matches through missing kicks at goal, but in Sneyd we have someone who will invariably put the points on the board, just when we need them most.  His seven successes on Friday will have surely put most teams on guard against the folly of giving him those opportunities, in the way the Tigers did in the second half.

That, however, is the icing on the cake.  Before kicks at goal could ever have been considered, there were key elements which needed to come right, and no-one should forget that purple patch, just before half time, when the Reds went from 10-8 down, to take a 10-20 interval lead.  

Back-to-back tries are hard enough for a team to take, even when the second score comes towards, or, at the end, of the resuming set.  When it comes straight from the kick-off, however, it must feel quite demoralising.  

King Vuniyayawa it was, who set the ball rolling, when one of Castleford’s indiscretions set the Red Devils up in a good attacking position, and his appearance, seemingly from nowhere on the blindside, the angle of his run, allied with his force and strength, all combined to get him over the line.  

An incredible break then, direct from the kick off, by Joe Burgess, saw him slice right through the home side’s defence, and a ninety metre attacking move, resembling the flair which that left edge had shown against Swinton in the first pre-season friendly, ended with Dion Cross grounding the ball near the corner.

Those twelve points, amassed in only a couple of minutes, literally turned the game on its head, and paved the way for Salford to show us all, how they could manage a game throughout second half, by respecting possession, securing good field position thanks in part to Sneyd’s kicks downfield, and taking any chances of scoring, which, apart from James Greenwood’s disallowed effort, turned out not to be tries.

This was all a far cry, however, from how things had looked in the opening stages of the game, when for a full ten minutes, after an early penalty goal,  momentum swung well and truly to the Tigers.  They dominated possession and camped on the Salford line, asking question after question, of the visitors’ defence.  

That was when the Red Devils really had to muscle up and repulse each of those assaults, which they did, magnificently, and it was in the hard graft demanded of them, during that period, that the foundations for their win were well and truly laid.

It turned out to be a full eighteen minutes before George Griffin got his side on the scoreboard, and within four minutes Ken Sio had eradicated it with a typical finish of his own, in the right-hand corner.  

As possession became more evenly shared, the inevitable arm wrestle followed, broken eventually by Derrell Olpherts’s first try in the left corner.  That, though, simply served to inspire the Reds to even greater things, as half time was approaching fast, and with it, was coming the opportunity for them to take control.

A good start can have more far-reaching effects, however. It is the catalyst for generating momentum, forging links and understanding between players, and building confidence.  With their first home game, against Toulouse, coming up next, those benefits could all be strengthened even further.

Salford sign Fijian prop King Vuniyayawa

Salford Red Devils are delighted to announce the signing of Fijian international King Vuniyayawa on a two-year contract.

Prop or second-row forward, Vuniyayawa joins the Red Devils from fellow Betfred Super League side Leeds Rhinos.

The 26-year-old began his career in the NRL with New Zealand Warriors, before making the switch to Super League ahead of the 2021 season.

Speaking on signing for Salford, Vuniyayawa said: “I decided to come to Salford to take on new challenges and to keep progressing in terms of my footy.

Super League footy is quite different to NRL footy, so learning to adjust to the game and how they play over here has taken a bit of time for me but I’m getting there.

“With joining the Devils, I feel like it’s a good move for me to focus on myself and what I can bring to the team.”

Director of rugby and operations Ian Blease commented: “I am pleased and excited to bring in a quality player like King Vuniyayawa to the Red Devils for the next two seasons.

“King will add some strength and size to our pack as we continue to build our squad for 2022 & onwards. Going forward King will get the opportunity to build his career with the Red Devils having agreed to join us from the Leeds Rhinos.

As a club, we will work hard with and give King our full backing to enable him to become a leading Super League forward.”

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