Tag: sam luckley

SALFORD RED DEVILS SET NEW CLUB RECORD FOR WORLD CUP REPRESENTATIVES

Salford Red Devils have set a new club record for World Cup representatives, with TEN players set to compete in the showpiece home tournament this autumn.

Andy Ackers, Marc Sneyd and Kallum Watkins will be donning the England shirt. Sneyd and Ackers will have the honour of making their Three Lions debuts, while Watkins continues to be a consistent figure in the team after his long-term injury.

Ryan Brierley – who has already made seven appearances for the Scottish National Team – has been rewarded for an excellent club season with a call-up to the Scotland squad. As has Sam Luckley, who recently joined Hull KR, but was an important part of Paul Rowley’s side last season.

Record appearance-maker Rhys Williams will continue to set the pace at international level with Wales, as the Dragon continues his regular spot in the Welsh squad.

Morgan Escaré made his France debut in 2013 and has since gone on to make 12 further appearances – scoring seven tries. He will get the opportunity to add to that this November, after making the 24-man squad ahead of their World Cup endeavours.

King Vuniyayawa has been a regular in Rowley’s forward pack this season and his excellent form has earned him a spot in Fiji’s squad.

Finally, Ken Sio and Tim Lafai – two members of the 2022 Dream Team – joined up with the Samoan squad ahead of their second Group Stage game against Greece.

After seeing the club record increase to ten, director of rugby and operations, Ian Blease said: “Seeing Ken and Tim join-up with the Samoan squad is a proud moment for the whole club. Both players were instrumental to our success in 2022 and totally deserve this recognition.

“I’m sure playing on the World Cup stage is something they’ve always dreamt about, so to see them have that opportunity will be a special occasion.

“Taking the Club record up even further to nine has just emphasised how much progress has been made on and off the field last season. It’s an incredible achievement for everyone involved and we wish everyone good luck in the rest of the tournament!”

Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com – 15/10/2022 – Rugby League – Rugby League World Cup – England v Samoa – St. James’ Park, Newcastle, England – Kallum Watkins of England breaks through to score against Samoa

The previous record – back in 2000 – saw Salford have seven representatives at the World Cup, with Paul Highton, Chris Morley, Kris Tassell, Mark Johnson, Martin Crompton, Paul Southern and Mike Wainwright all earning call-ups to their respective nations.

Salford did have eight players play in the 1975 World Championship Series – which is considered the Rugby League World Cup – however, the format of this tournament differed from the usual format. The matches were played over an eight-month period in five countries, no squads were announced and players were selected on a match-by-match basis.

Earlier this month, reacting to such an outstanding achievement, Head Coach Paul Rowley said: “To have a record number of internationals from our 2022 squad is a fantastic achievement and recognition for the tremendous efforts from the players this year.

“It’s a privilege and honour to be a part of the Salford 2022 team and to see the players rewarded with international recognition. To create a little piece of Salford history is something that the whole working group can be very proud of.”

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: HUDDERSFIELD V SALFORD, MAGIC WEEKEND

After two of their most impressive wins of the season, over Wakefield and Warrington, Salford Red Devils travelled to Newcastle for this season’s Magic Weekend Supported by SKY O, to take on Huddersfield with the hope that they would not only be able to avenge their loss in the away game, earlier this season, but also extend their run of victories to three, for the first time this season.

The Red Devils have become well-practised in the art of backing up one win with a second, as has happened on three occasions, Castleford & Toulouse, Leeds & Castleford, and the aforementioned Wakefield & Warrington, but have not, so far, been able to put a run of three or more together.

Unfortunately, that proved to be the case once more, at St James’s Park, with the Giants being the ones to walk tall, at the final whistle.  It was a lack of consistency throughout the encounter, which was to be the Reds’ downfall, with at least one period in which they were totally dominant  the with opposition on the rack, but there were too many occasions where they lost concentration and fell away.

The roasting conditions, out on the pitch, were not helpful to any side, but, as always, were the same for both teams, and with a lighter, more mobile pack, one might have expected that they would have suited Salford rather more than the aptly named Giants.  That, however, did not prove to be the case, and a somewhat hesitant start handed the initiative to the opposition.

The game was barely three minutes old, when a lost ball in a tackle, close to the Giants’ line, gifted them possession, and a towering end-of-set kick caused a little hesitancy in the mind of fullback, Ryan Brierley, with his being beaten to the catch by the oncoming Toby King, who took it on the full to race over between the posts.

In fairness to the Salford players, their response to this setback was admirable as they built up pressure on the Huddersfield line, and were most unfortunate not to score from Marc Sneyd’s kick into the in-goal area, with the ball just bouncing away from Rhys Williams’s hand as it came down to ground it.

A try at that point would have been most beneficial, but, as it was, things just deteriorated further with the Yorkshire side taking advantage of a seven-tackle set to proceed down-field and double their score with a try to the right of the posts.

With Huddersfield’s confidence sky-high by this point, it took some considerable endeavour in the heat, and some lengthy spells defending their line, on the part of the Salford players  to prevent their going even further behind, but it was only a matter of time before the Giants got their third score of the afternoon, from McQueen, in the 26th minute.

At long last the Reds did get some possession in good field position and were able to apply some pressure of their own and show a response, which they did with some seemingly off-the-cuff inter-passing, and switches of direction, until Deon Cross was able to hand-off a wrong-footed defender and open the Reds’ account, on 33 minutes.

Had they been able to retain this twelve-point deficit to half time, the outcome might have been very different, but the last five minutes saw repeated assaults on the Salford line, culminating with the loss of the ball, after only one tackle, affording the opposition one extra chance, with less than a minute remaining, – a chance they did not scorn.

How different things proved to be at the start of the second half, with the Red Devils coming out of the blocks determined to put right things, which had gone awry, earlier.  Secure in the belief that, particularly in those conditions, even an eighteen-point lead could be overturned, they started to build pressure of their own, but it was the individual contribution, and incredible footwork of Brodie Croft, which were to be the undoing of the Giants, in the first fifteen minutes.

Twice, on 47 and 51 minutes, he put himself in space to employ the most bewildering of tricky runs to bring the Reds back into the game.  The first came from a speedy play-the-ball by Sam Luckley, which enabled dummy-half, Andy Ackers, to scoot towards the defensive line, before passing to Croft, who sped through a gap to round Lolohea and score by the posts.

Four minutes later, the same threesome of Ackers, Luckley and Croft combined again, with this time Croft once again breaking the defensive with a slight change of direction, drawing in Lolohea, and then passing inside to the rampaging Luckley who held off all challengers to go in under the posts.  His celebration, on doing so, was such that it drew the attention of one, Alan Shearer, whose subsequent tweeting of the try, and afters, has, to date, brought just under two thousand, eight hundred ‘likes’.

One week earlier, a similar turnaround in momentum was sufficient to bring home the spoils to Salford.  Sadly, on this occasion, there was no repetition of that, with the Giants’ regrouping, playing percentages, and managing the remaining time, well.  Consequently, it was they, and not Salford, who went on to add one final try to make the game safe.

On that previous occasion, the Red Devils had built up an early eight-point lead, which was, subsequently, the winning margin.  This week, they did not have any early points to draw upon, and in that, thereby, lies a lesson which, hopefully, the whole squad will be quick to learn, even more hopefully, in time for next Sunday’s home fixture with Catalans Dragons.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH:  SALFORD V WIGAN

As the teams trooped off for the extended (owing to live TV coverage) half time interval, at last Friday’s home Super League encounter, both coaches and groups of players must have had much with which to feel well satisfied.

Visitors, Wigan, will have been pleased with the fact that they were in front, even if by only six points, and with the manner in which they had managed the game, spending much of the half, particularly during the opening twenty minutes, on attack with adequate ball possession and field position.

Salford, for their part, will have been especially pleased with their defence, which had withstood all but one of the questions thrown at it, and also with the way in which they had gradually worked towards parity with the Warriors in terms of position and possession, in the second quarter.  That they had not managed to score, in order to level up the scoreboard, was a little disappointing but nevertheless they had come as close to doing so as Wigan had, to extending their lead.

That first forty had produced just one defensive error – by Salford’s right edge – where an overlap had been worked for left winger, Marshall, who promptly cut inside to set up Smith for a  try he, himself, converted.  Other than that, the game had been an intriguing arm wrestle, in which Salford had matched the cup holders in every aspect.  After the disappointment at Hull KR, the week before, the return of two big forwards not only steadied the side, it gave them some noticeable go-forward.

Sitaleki Akauola ran as strongly as we have seen from him, and he gave what was probably his best performance, since joining the Red Devils.  On his introduction, midway through the half, the imposing, Sam Luckley, set about giving a sterling performance, in which he took on, and diminished, the dominant power of the Warriors’ pack, by injecting some considerable hit-ups, which quickly started to take their toll on the opposition’s defenders.

So, with honours close to being even, thoughts turned to the coming forty minutes, and how things might shape up.  Wigan had shown not only in the previous week, against Castleford, that they can turn round, from the interval, as a completely different team.  Whilst there have been odd occasions earlier in the season, such as the Leeds and Castleford encounters, when Salford have done likewise, there have also been other occasions they have failed to do so, and consequently succumbed to the dominance of the opposition.

It did not take long after the restart for spectators of both persuasions to discover just which path the second forty of this game would take – a mere four minutes to be precise.  A crucial penalty went Wigan’s way, after an altercation involving players from both sides.  From that they built up an attack which brought Marshall his first try from Bibby’s kick, to take the Warriors into double figures.

The home side’s immediate response, with an attack of their own, went sadly wrong three minutes later, when Andy Ackers’s pass was intercepted by Field, from which he and French broke clear, down the right edge.  Thankfully, Salford’s excellent scrambling defence was equal to the attack, and although they were initially outpaced by the pair, they got back in sufficient numbers to snuff out the threat, forcing French to spill the ball.

Ironically, a mere two minutes later, an end-of-set kick landed straight in the arms of French, and he and Field promptly set off again, but this time, despite the endeavours of the Salford defence, the combined efforts of two of the fastest players in Super League, managed to get the winger in at the corner and the goal kick then put them sixteen points in front.

There could not have been a more morale deflating event possible, and that, coupled with the loss of energy Salford players had already expended in the first half, enabled the visitors to hit a purple patch, running in three tries in six minutes, as a result of their total domination of possession during this period.

Hurt as their pride was, the Reds struck back near the end with two deserved tries, both converted by Marc Sneyd, from kicks into the in-goal area.  The first, which followed the awarding of a repeat set, was from Sneyd’s kick into the corner, the bounce of which eluded Ken Sio, but was caught and grounded by his centre, Deon Cross.

Finally, the absolutely magnificent Kallum Watkins was first to get a hand to the ball, from Brodie Croft’s kick. The visiting, Shaun Wayne, can have been nothing but impressed by the recently converted, second rower’s performance throughout, and to secure the final try of the evening was only just dessert for him and his wholehearted efforts.

With yet another weekend ahead without a match, the Red Devils might well benefit from this one rather more than the last one, two weeks ago.  On that occasion it disrupted their run of wins, but this time they hopefully will use it to rediscover the form they had been showing in their previous four fixtures.

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.

SAM LUCKLEY REMAINS A RED UNTIL END OF 2022

Salford Red Devils are delighted to announce that Sam Luckley’s contract has been extended, keeping him at the club until at least the end of the 2022 season.

Luckley, who started his career at Newcastle Thunder, linked up with Salford ahead of the 2021 season and has put in some solid performances in a Red Devils shirt.

The Scotland international spent some time on loan at Betfred Championship side Swinton Lions this season, which was beneficial to his development.

Speaking on his contract extension, Luckley said: “I’m over the moon that the club have decided to extend my stay for another year, I’ve loved every minute of my first season in Super League.

I’ve learnt so much and developed a lot in my game and I believe at this point in time staying at Salford will help me develop further. Despite some of the results from the last season, I believe Salford is a club on the up and I’ll do all I can to help get this club where it needs to be.”

Director of rugby and operations Ian Blease added: “Working along with his agent, keeping Sam at the Red Devils for another year and hopefully for longer is a great move for us as a club and Sam as a player, as we look to develop him further as a player and a person.

He leaves everything on the field every time he plays and has a strong maiden season in Super League. Sam is one of the youngest players in our squad, so he can only get better from here.”

Join Luckley in 2022 by purchasing a Season Ticket at an early bird price. Tickets can be purchased HERE.

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