Tag: Ryan Brierley

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: 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 CATALANS

 

Returning to the A J Bell for only their fourth home fixture of the season, the Salford Red Devils will undoubtedly have been hoping for a turnaround in fortunes after three successive away fixtures in which they had come out second best, when they took on the Catalans Dragons, in Easter Monday’s encounter.

Unfortunately, on the day, this did not turn out to be the case, and the visiting Frenchmen returned home to Perpignan with the two league points to promote further their Super League title aspirations.

That seemed far from likely in the opening stages however, as Salford opened the game with aplomb, dominating possession and turning their most advantageous field position into points, with the first of their tries coming in the fourth minute from Ryan Brierley’s kick over the line, to which Deon Cross won the race to ground.

Indeed, the visitors had really looked at sixes and sevens during that opening onslaught, conceding three set-restarts and a penalty, but once the Red Devils had put in their end-of-set kick after the restart, the visitors began to enjoy a share of possession, and chalk up scores of their own.

What will have disappointed the home fans particularly was the way in which Salford contributed to their own downfall, with unforced individual errors, a number of which led directly, or indirectly, to the Dragons’ six tries, all of which were converted.

Two back-to-back penalties, both towards the end of sets-of-six, set up the visitors for their first, on nine minutes, and then, nine minutes later, they forced a goal-line drop-out, which was followed by their being awarded two further penalties, one of which came on the last tackle of their set.  That was more than enough possession for them to go over again and double their score.

The error, which will have caused most annoyance in the Salford ranks, however, was from a penalty awarded to the Dragons at a scrum for the Reds failing to have secured the ball in readiness to feed it in. The shot-clock sounded, while they were still recovering it, and, from the ensuing penalty, Catalans rang up their third try to bring a 6-18 half-time score.

Twelve points is by no means a match-winning lead and there must have still been hopes of a resurgent home side overturning this, particularly against an opposition depleted by a sin-binning, immediately before the interval.  Far from that, however, it was the twelve-man French side which opened the scoring, following a Salford handling error close to their own line, with the ball firting out into the grateful hands of Whitley with the line at his mercy.

It was not until the sixty-fifth minute that Salford were able to add to their opening score, with their second coming after Marc Sneyd had instigated it with one of his favourite chip and chases, which so used to delight spectators of our Youth team, back in the late noughties.  Brierley regathered before putting in a kick ahead of his own for Sio to add to his growing number of tries for the season.

This, however, was merely sandwiched between two further tries by the visitors, the final one of which came as a result of yet another unforced error, this time an incorrect play-the-ball, which gave the Dragons possession to notch one more.

Standing up to a side as big and physical as the French side is, is a considerable task, particularly with the spate of injuries currently plaguing the Red Devils.  The effort they put in to doing this was tremendous, and the go forward provided by Sam Luckley was significant, as was that of the returning Kallum Watkins, in the unaccustomed role of second row following his introduction off the bench shortly before half time.  With the return eventually of others, that effort will hopefully be turned into victories.

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.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: CHALLENGE CUP TIE WIGAN V SALFORD

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: CHALLENGE CUP TIE WIGAN V SALFORD

There must have been many a huge sigh of relief across those clubs still to be drawn from the bag, when Salford Red Devils were announced as the visitors to the DW Stadium, in the sixth-round tie, of this year’s Betfred Challenge Cup.  Not for nothing, are Wigan known as The Cup Kings, especially after their decade-long run of winning every final of the late eighties and early nineties.

In fairness, Salford do not have a bad record of recent results in cup ties against the Warriors, including that marvellous victory of 1996, which brought the aforementioned run of victories to its conclusion, with Salford having home advantage in the majority of those games.  This one was different, though, with it being the Red Devils having to do the travelling, and the usually tight, or unexpected, result was never on the cards, at least not judging by the final score.

A twenty-point victory sounds quite a comfortable win for the home side, especially when they kept the visitors to nil.  That is only part of the story, however, as those who attended will testify, with the Reds having every bit as much of the game as their illustrious hosts.  What they did not do, however, was turn any of their opportunities into points.

For a full fifteen opening minutes, the travelling Salford faithful must have been lulled into a feeling of growing confidence, as their favourites went head-to-head in an intriguing arm wrestle, which gave no indication of the disappointments to come shortly after, as they succeeded in containing Wigan between the two twenty metre lines.

Indeed, for the vast majority of the game, the Reds’ defence coped extremely well with the challenge presented by the Warriors.  Where it all went wrong was in the number of handling errors and set restarts, which quickly crept in, thereafter, and although not the first, it was one of the first of these, when Tim Lafai tried an adventurous offload to Joe Burgess, which paid dividends to Wigan with their first try under the posts, by Liam Byrne.

To compound matters even further, a set restart on the fourth tackle of the next set gave their hosts sufficient extra possession to score a back-to-back pair, and we all know how demoralising those can be, particularly when both conversion kicks are successful.

Yet the Red Devils did mount a number of promising, but unsuccessful attacks on the home line.  The first of these came on twenty-minutes, when a long pass at the end of a flowing move from left to right found Rhys Williams in space, but excellent Wigan covering forced him into touch before he could cross the line.

A similar foray into the Wigan ten metre area, although helped by a rare Salford set-restart, was snuffed out by the Warriors’ defensive pressure, forcing a lost ball on the final tackle.  In fact, Salford’s only partially successful attack came on thirty-three minutes, when they forced a goal-line drop-out.

Wigan’s determination to exploit each and every one of the Red Devils’ errors had been laid bare, on twenty-three minutes, when a Wigan set-restart was followed by a kickable penalty, which Hardaker confidently slotted over.  It might have been only two points, but it turned their lead into a three-score margin.

A concerted effort to curtail the errors, immediately after the interval, led to some of Salford’s most imaginative and entertaining ball-handling approach work, but Brierley’s fumbled attempt to take a crucial pass led to Leuluai regaining possession and sprinting away, down their right touchline.  With Hardaker and Field in support, it looked all the world like another try was on the way, but everyone had reckoned without the pace and determination of Joe Burges who hared back to snuff out the danger before Hardaker could get the final pass to Field.

This totally unselfish contribution to the Salford cause, from Burgess, was typical of the endeavour and commitment of all the Red Devils throughout the match.  It just proves rather fruitless, though, if you concede so many errors that they all contribute to your own downfall.

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:SALFORD V TOULOUSE

A double brace of tries from Ken Sio, one at the start and the other at the end of the game, served to sandwich this remarkable game against the visiting newcomers to Super League, Toulouse Olympique.

Remarkable that is, in a number of ways. Remarkable in the severity of the adverse conditions, which blasted over the pitch in the form of Storm Franklin, remarkable in the variety of ploys both sides, but especially Salford, used to combat the elements, and remarkable in the total number of points the Red Devils  were able to post in such conditions.

So strong was the wind swirling around the field that it was almost like another opposition team intent upon foiling the bravest endeavours of both sets of players. There has been many a game, when, in similar circumstances, the team regarded as underdogs would have been chomping at the bit to get out there, use the conditions to their advantage, and consequently spring a surprise victory seemingly from nowhere.

For the Red Devils, therefore, to run up a total of thirty-eight points, for it can hardly be imagined that the Frenchmen would not have eager to use such an opportunity to notch up their first win, was most praiseworthy.

The tactics they used in posting no less than seven tries, was quite eye-opening, because modern day rugby is often regarded as being somewhat stereotyped and predictable, by its critics.  Nothing could be further from the truth, on this occasion.

Not that there was a lot of  off-the-cuff play to be seen, because so much was clearly well-rehearsed, and not only in the build-up to tries.  Take, for example, Marc Sneyd’s twenty-first minute cross-field down-town kick, direct from a scrum a mere fifteen metres from his own line, to the left wing, followed by Joe Burgess’s dive for the ball, a good three metres away from it, but which he then skidded onto, to retain possession, despite the attention of  a number of French defenders.

It was, though, of course, the tries which brought the greatest pleasure to the Salford faithful, with many of them, unsurprisingly, coming from kicks.

This was the case with Sio’s first, which came within the opening couple of minutes when he won the race to touch down Sneyd’s immaculate in-goal kick, centimetres before the ball went into dead.

Others followed, with Tim Lafai benefitting in the second half, from a real tester of a bomb which dipped suddenly in the gale, completely bewildering the Toulouse defenders.

And, as if only to keep them guessing, on twenty three minutes, Sneyd shaped up near to the line, to kick through, only to hold onto the ball and cut through the gap left by the surprised opposition.

It was not only the kicks, or on this last occasion the lack of one, which opened up the way to the visitors’ line.  Brodie Croft made a marvellous break from well inside his own half to make a fifty metre run, and, although his final pass was deflected by a French arm, Sio did an excellent job of mopping up to cross for his second.

Indeed Croft later got in on the kicking game, himself, to put through a neat little stab for Sio’s third, to show the home fans that he, too, is going to be a force to be reckoned with, as he settles more and more into the side.

In such treacherous conditions, however, passing moves are at a premium though Salford did extremely well when they sent the ball from right to left to get Burgess away down his left wing, and his inside pass secured, for the supporting Ryan Brierley, his first Super League try for Salford.

Not that the Olympique were without ideas of their own, and indeed they had already asked a number of questions of the Salford defence before they managed to penetrate it with former Salford U19s Chris Hankinson, touching down in similar fashion to Sio’s opener.

Indeed, it was the visitors who shook the Salford fans with the opening try of the second half, bringing them to within striking distance of their hosts’ lead, for a short period which undoubtedly will have caused some little concern on the terraces.

The day, however, belonged to Salford, and Ken Sio, who, with three tries under his belt already, capped it all with the most exciting of them all as he sped eighty metres down field for his final, culminating score of the afternoon.

 

“Those people in the stands are my people” – Ryan Brierley

Salford Red Devils’ latest signing Ryan Brierley knows just how special our club is to its fanbase, having grown up in the stands as a supporter.

Brierley, 29, signed for the Red Devils last Sunday from Leigh Centurions, finally achieving his boyhood dream of pulling on the red of Salford.

“When I was a young boy I had a dream that I wanted to play for Salford, so to finally crack that dream is surreal,” Brierley revealed.

Brierley, who can play in the halves or at fullback, is looking forward to playing in front of the fans he’s rubbed shoulders with in the terraces for years.

The Scotland international said: “Those people in the stands are my people, I’ve stood next to them for decades and gone through the tough times.

“I’ve always felt like one of them, so I understand what this club means for people.”

Our latest addition had some words of praise for the squad here at Salford, and Brierley is excited to get stuck in with his new teammates.

“The array of talent in this team is unbelievable. To play with calibre of players can only make you better.”

Speaking on the acquisition of Brierley, director of rugby and operations Ian Blease said: “I’ve tried to sign Ryan a couple of times previously, so I’m extremely pleased to capture him this time. Ryan has been in great form lately and will give us some great positional options for 2022 onwards.

After speaking to him for sometime now, I know how excited he and his family are for him to wear our famous shirt. I can’t wait to see him in preseason and to work with him for the next two years at the Red Devils.”

The Qualifiers in Focus | Toronto Wolfpack 

Following the recent Qualifiers fixture release, Salford discovered that they will face Hull Kingston Rovers, Widnes Vikings, Halifax RLFC, Toronto Wolfpack, Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos and Toulouse Olympique. Here we take an in-depth look at the first-ever professional transatlantic sports team – Toronto Wolfpack. 
Season so far 
2018, much like 2017, proved to be a highly successful campaign for Toronto Wolfpack. Toronto enjoyed a prodigious first Betfred Championship season, winning 20 of their 23 games including highly impressive showings in a 32-12 win over London Broncos and a 42-10 dismantling of fellow top four contenders Halifax. This run of form went on to lead the Canadian side to a second consecutive title.
Following an off-season of many comings and goings the Wolfpack started the season with an impressive result over Leigh Centurions. Going down to a 12-0 deficit, Toronto, thanks to a hat-trick from Liam Kay, scored 34 unanswered points to send hotly tipped Leigh packing.
Toronto remained unbeaten until a fourth round 47-16 humbling at the hands of fellow championship rivals London Broncos left them reeling. The next few months saw great success for the Canadians, note worthy victories against the likes of Toulouse Olympique and a 52-12 dismantling of Swinton Lions, their highest scoring game so far kept the momentum going.
Betfred Super League side Warrington Wolves prematurely ended Toronto’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup run in May with a 66-10 result. Bouncing back from this disappointment, the Wolfpack remained unbeaten for months. Edging Leigh Centurions in a 28-26 game at the Summer Bash was followed up by a resounding 32-12 victory of London Broncos.
A comprehensive 68-4 victory over Sheffield Eagles continued the Wolfpacks 16-game unbeaten run to hand them their first Betfred Championship title with braces from Chase Stanley and Adam Higson helping the Canadians to yet another heavy win across the pond. However, Toronto did lose their perfect home record since their formation with a 12-30 defeat against Featherstone Rovers at Lamport Stadium in the final round of Betfred Championship fixtures.
Coach
Toronto are led by Paul Rowley with the 43-year-old joining the Canadian club as their inaugural Head Coach in 2016 after leaving fellow Betfred Super League side Leigh Centurions.
The former England hooker started his career at Leigh Centurions before going on to appear in the Super League with Halifax and Huddersfield Giants between 1994-2001. Rowley returned to Leigh for the final four years of his career where he helped his hometown team win the National League One title in 2004. Rowley won four caps for England whilst at Halifax.
After retirement Rowley joined Leigh’s coaching staff before being appointed permanent First Team Coach in January 2012 after a successful first season at the helm, guiding the Leythers to second in the Betfred Championship.
On the back of his first season, Rowley led Leigh to back-to-back Betfred Championship titles in 2014 and 2015 before resigning as Leigh Head Coach prior to the 2016 season. Later that year Rowley was announced as the Head Coach of Toronto Wolfpack where he’s overseen great success so far, winning the Betfred League One title in 2017 and the Betfred Championship title this season.
Captain
Toronto’s current Captain is Australian halfback Josh McCrone. McCrone was handed the captaincy following the exit of Craig Hall. 31 year-old McCrone ended his nine-year spell in the NRL in his native Australia when he signed for Toronto from St George Illawarra Dragons in September 2017.

If Toronto wish to stake their claim for a place in the Betfred Super League for the first time next season the Canadian side will need some of McCrone’s leadership, creativity and experience to help get them over the line.
One to watch 
Dynamic halfback Ryan Bierley broke through at Leigh Centurions in 2012. He finished as Leigh’s top try scorer for four consecutive seasons between 2012 and 2015, coinciding with the clubs back-to-back Betfred Championship titles in 2014 and 2015.
After scoring a double against Bradford Bulls in February 2016, Brierley overtook Neil Turley to become Leigh’s fifth top try-scorer of all time with 133 in 125 games.

Following this achievement and years of quality performances in the Betfred Championship, Brierley was given an opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream when he joined super league team Huddersfield. However, despite scoring 15 tries in his 25 games, including a memorable hat-trick from fullback in a losing effort at Wigan, his time at the Giants came to an end.
A surprise move to Toronto Wolfpack and a chance to reunite with Paul Rowley, his coach at Leigh, quickly came to fruition. Arriving for an undisclosed fee, Brierley scored an impressive 13 tries in his first 12 games during the club’s League One promotion winning season. He followed that up with 12 tries in his 23 games this year.
Brierley is a player blessed with devastating speed but it’s his ability to read the game and find himself in the right place at the right time that sets him apart from his teammates.
When’s the game 
Salford will welcome their trans-continental visitors to the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday 8th September with kick off set to be at 3:15pm. The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
Ticket details will be released in due course. 
 
Written by Matt Tandy.