Tag: st helens

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: ST HELENS v SALFORD

After the most heart-breaking of Betfred Challenge Cup exits against Castleford Tigers, probably the last thing the Salford players needed was to be travelling to face the might of the Betfred Super League Champions, St Helens, ten days later.  If that were the case, however, there was absolutely no evidence of it, whatsoever, in the opening forty minutes, for throughout the whole of the first half, the valiant Red Devils went head-to-head with their hosts, matching their unrelenting, fastidious defence, with an equally uncompromising one of their own.

Indeed, for a full twenty minutes, when both defences were causing significant problems for the other’s attack, it was the Saints who made the first three handling errors, the second of which saw the pitting of the power of Chris Atkins’s magnificent tackle on the man-mountain that is Alex Walmsley, in the greatest mismatch of the evening.

Mismatch, as far as size is concerned, it may have been, but the little halfback got everything just right and the result was the giant prop not only being toppled to the ground but coughing up possession in the first tackle of their set, in the process.  If anyone on the ground had had any doubts about the visitors’ resolve and determination, they were left with none, thereafter, and the Saints continued to struggle to find their attacking rhythm in the face of such determined tackling.

Not that Salford were able to make any in-roads into the St Helens defensive line, either, however, with the home side virtually negating any Reds’ forward advancement up the field, when in possession.  That became equally the case on the occasions when, as a result of penalties or troublesome kicks, Salford got within sight of their opponents’ try line, with a totally flawless goal-line defence keeping them pointless, for the full 80 minutes.

It was 23 minutes of complete stalemate before a try was eventually registered, and, as so often has happened this season, it came as a result of a Salford handling error, whilst on attack in the Saints half, and then, this time, further compounded by conceding a penalty.  If only the Red Devils’ attack could have been as efficient as their defence had been, they really would have caused St Helens some concern, but sadly that was not the reality.

On a positive note, it should be observed that, unlike in many previous games, that first try did not lead to another just before half-time, and it must have been a much happier dressing-room to which the team retired, at the interval, trailing by only six points and still very much in contention.

Sadly, that happy state was not to remain for very long with the home side reappearing determined to increase the pace of the game, to their own advantage, and the next score came within two minutes of the resumption Dispiritingly, it came from one of Salford’s best attacking moves of the evening, with the ball having been moved swiftly to the right wing, where Ken Sio had been freed up to race clear.

The kick he put infield for his teammates to latch onto, unfortunately, stood up beautifully into the arms of Theo Fages, who, with the involvement of two teammates, started, and then finished, a sixty-metre inter-passing run to the line, to double the Saints’ score.

That try, and in particular the circumstances in which it came, proved to be a real game changer, for although it was over a quarter of an hour before they scored again, St Helens went on to notch up a total of five tries, four of which were converted.

The most disappointing of those came on the stroke of time, when Salford, with three seconds remaining, produced some rather static resistance on the right, from a play the ball in front of their own posts.  It would have been a fair reflection of their efforts during the first half, had they snuffed out any chance of conceding again.  As it was, the scoreboard became a rather uncomfortable representation as to how the second half had unfolded.

It would also be true to say, however, that had they been playing any less commanding a side than St Helens, that first half performance could well have paved the way for a deserved victory.

CHANGE IN BETFRED SUPER LEAGUE FIXTURES TO ACCOMMODATE RETURN OF FANS

Rounds 6,7 and 8 of the 2021 Betfred Super League schedule have seen changes as a number of Super League clubs have decided to bring their round 6 games forward to Monday 17 May – the date that fans are expected to be allowed back into stadiums. 

Salford Red Devils’ away clash with St. Helens will now be contested on Monday 17 May, 7:45pm kick-off, with Wigan Warriors later the same week in Round 7 on Saturday 22 May, which will kick-off at 1.00pm.

Marshall’s men will then face off against Warrington Wolves in Round 8 of the Betfred Super League on Thursday 27 May, kick-off at 7:45pm live on Sky Sports.

If the government’s roadmap goes to plan, Salford’s game against Saints could be one of the first sporting events to welcome fans back this year.

Ken Davy, Super League’s interim executive chairman, said: “We can’t wait to see our passionate fans back in grounds cheering their team on.

“We’ve waited a long time and that day cannot come soon enough, we will be another step closer to some kind of normality. We’re grateful for Sky Sports’ continued support and flexibility.”

The full schedule for Round 6,7 and 8 is below:

ROUND 6

Friday 14 May

19:45 Leeds Rhinos v Wakefield Trinity (Sky Sports)

Monday 17 May 

19:45 Castleford Tigers v Hull KR

19:45 Leigh Centurions v Wigan Warriors

19:45 St Helens v Salford Red Devils

19:45 Warrington Wolves v Huddersfield Giants (Sky Sports)

TBC

Hull FC v Catalans Dragons

ROUND 7

Saturday 22 May 

13:00 Salford Red Devils v Wigan Warriors

15:00 Warrington Wolves v Castleford Tigers

17:00 (18:00 CEST) Catalans Dragons v St Helens

Sunday 23 May 

15:00 Wakefield Trinity v Hull KR

15:00 Leigh Centurions v Huddersfield Giants

19:30 Leeds Rhinos v Hull FC (Sky Sports)

ROUND 8

Thursday 27 May

19:45 Salford Red Devils v Warrington Wolves (Sky Sports)

Friday 28 May

19:45 Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos

19:45 St Helens v Hull FC (Sky Sports)

Saturday 29 May

17:00 (18:00 CEST) Catalans Dragons v Wigan Warriors

Sunday 30 May

15:00 Wakefield Trinity v Huddersfield Giants

15:00 Hull KR v Leigh Centurions

Image credit: Steve McCormick

MATCH REPORT | ST HELENS 29-6 SALFORD RED DEVILS | FRIDAY 26TH MARCH

Salford Red Devils fell to a 29-6 defeat to champions St. Helens in the first game of the 2021 Betfred Super League season. 

The season opener at the Emerald Headingley Stadium was Richard Marshall’s first Super League test as Salford’s head coach, with five debutants featuring in tonight’s defeat for the Red Devils.

Tommy Makinson opened the scoring for Saints within two minutes, collecting a chipped kick and grounding the ball in the right corner.

Saints’ Regan Grace slid over on the left wing five minutes before half-time to extend his side’s lead, with Jack Welsby scoring a drop-goal right on the hooter to make it 13-0 at the interval.

Half-time: St. Helens 13-0 Salford Red Devils

Image credit: Steve McCormick

Salford came out looking sharper in the second forty and got themselves on the scoreboard in the 55th minute.

Tui Lolohea found Ken Sio on the right wing with an outrageous pass, setting his teammate up to stroll over with ease for our first try of the 2021 season.

Saints responded five minutes later through Mark Percival, who rose to collect a Theo Fages kick before touching the ball down.

Two more tries in the final 10 minutes from Kevin Naiqama and Alex Walmsley confirmed defeat for Marshall’s men in their first runout of 2021.

Fulltime: St. Helens 29-6 Salford Red Devils

St. Helens: Welsby, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Thompson, Bentley, Mata’utia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Paasi, Smith.

Salford Red Devils: Sarginson, Sio, Watkins, Kear, Inu, Lolohea, Brown, Mossop, Addy, Ikahihifo, Livett, Lannon, Taylor, Pauli, Ormondroyd, Wells, Patton.

Saints tries: Makinson, Grace, Percival, Naiqama, Walmsley.

Saints goals: Makinson (4/6)

Saints drop-goals: Welsby

Salford tries: Sio

Salford goals: Inu

Referee: Liam Moore

Image credit: Steve McCormick

Season opener promises to be solid test for Marshall’s men

Salford Red Devils head coach Richard Marshall is looking forward to an “exciting time for the club” ahead of the 2021 Betfred Super League opener against St Helens on Friday.

Marshall will take charge of his first competitive game since becoming head coach at the AJ Bell Stadium, with a mouth-watering clash in store against back-to-back champions Saints.

And following a successful pre-season, capped off with a win against 2020 Grand-Finalists Wigan Warriors, the Red Devils boss is pleased with what he has seen from his players.

Marshall said: “I have been welcomed with open arms.

‘There has been a lot of changes at the club, obviously coaches, staff, players. But with change comes freshness, new ideas and invigorated players.

“We have had a wonderful pre-season, getting to know the group, the strengths, the weaknesses, where we can improve as a team and being collaborative in our approach to the game.

“This is a new team, we will probably have six or seven players making their debut for the club on the weekend and it will take time for us to gel as a team – learn each other’s nuances – but at the same time we just want to throw them out there and go against the best team in the country.

“I’m looking forward to improving each and every individual at this club.”

Whilst the Red Devils face a tough task against the reigning champions, Marshall is eagerly anticipating the challenge that lies ahead.

“We want to improve on last year,” stated Marshall.

“We know it will be difficult against St Helens but at the same time it is a challenge we are going to relish.

“Going up against the current champions on Friday is really exciting and we are looking forward to that challenge.”

You can support Marshall and his men in 2021 by purchasing a season ticket HERE, or by phoning the ticket office on 0161 786 1570.

Rewatch our 12-10 victory the last time we played Saints on RDTV.

Written by: Will Dickson

Head coach happy with selection headache ahead of season opener

Salford Red Devils head coach Richard Marshall is relishing the headache of nailing down a 17-man squad for the season opener against St. Helens next week. 

Marshall was impressed by his side’s performance during Salford’s pre-season friendly against Wigan Warriors, with the focus on players improving their all-round game and playing outside of their comfort zone.

Speaking after the friendly win, Marshall said: “We’ve looked at a certain amount of players in different positions today.

“We don’t want to look at people and pigeonhole and stereotype. We want players who are multi-faceted – can offload, can step off both feet, can pass both ways, and can tackle off both shoulders.”

Marshall has been testing his team in different positions to also help each player understand the role and importance of another.

“That’s how we’ve practised and how we’ve trained. Sometimes the players think you’re bonkers moving people around and practising,” Marshall added.

“But in my experience if you’re trying to develop a team, you have to understand and have an empathy of what other players in other positions have to do.

“When you get that empathy within there, I think it really galvanises you as a team.”

With Salford opening the 2021 Betfred Super League campaign a week on Friday against Saints, Marshall’s focus now turns to the difficult task of selecting his squad to face the reigning champions.

“We’re not quite sure but what we do know is that we’ve got players who can play in multiple positions.

“What a great dilemma for us as coaches to have.”

Get behind your Red Devils in 2021 and buy yourself a season ticket here.

Costello all set for Saints season opener

Salford Red Devils’ Matty Costello is looking forward to coming up against his old side St. Helens, in the 2021 Betfred Super League season opener in three weeks time. 

Costello, who can play as a fullback, winger or centre, joined from Saints towards the end of 2020, linking up with head coach Richard Marshall who also arrived at the AJ Bell Stadium from St. Helens.

In what could be his first competitive game in a Salford shirt, the 22-year-old is excited to come up against some familiar faces.

Costello said: “It’ll be good playing against all my mates. I keep in touch with a lot of them.

“It’ll be good to come up against them, I’m sure they’ll give it me and I’ll give it them back.”

The 22-year-old spent plenty of time working with Richard Marshall during his time at Saints, who was assistant head coach at the Totally Wicked Stadium, and has transferred their good relationship over into the Salford camp.

“Rich worked a lot with us and he’s definitely improved my game in certain areas,” Costello said.

“We had a good relationship at Saints and it’s just the same. It’s just Rich is the main man now, the man to answer to, and I think he’s doing a really good job and the rest of the lads do as well.”

With a squad packed with talent for 2021, Costello’s main focus as we approach the start of the season is to be in and around that starting lineup.

Costello added: “I have the goal to play as many games as I can and be in around the squad to help where I can.

“Hopefully, we’ll be successful this year.”

Despite the excitement of lining up against his old side soon, Costello is looking forward to the return of fans in May the most.

“It’ll be good to play at Salford with the fans. Whenever I’ve played at the AJ Bell it’s been really loud and a tough place to go so lets keep it the same.”

In the meantime, you can watch Costello and your Red Devils in action against Wigan Warriors on Sunday 14th March in a preseason friendly, via Our League. Match day passes can be purchased here for an early bird price of £4.95.

RUGBY LEAGUE’S QUALITY STREET GANG (7) – BILL SHEFFIELD

Salford’s former long-serving second row forward, Bill Sheffield, relates memories of his rugby league career.

CONTENTS

Part 1 – HIS EARLY CAREER

Part 2 – MEMORIES OF HIS TIME WITH SALFORD

Part 3 – HE REMEMBERS HIS SALFORD TEAMMATES

Part 4 – HIS POST SALFORD CAREER

                                                          Part 1 – HIS EARLY CAREER

Hailing, as he does from St Helens, Bill Sheffield found it very easy to become a supporter of the Saints, on account of the fact that the very first game he ever attended was watching them play in their 13-2 Challenge Cup Final triumph over Halifax, at Wembley, in 1956.

“My father was an avid supporter of St Helens and after that first introduction to the game, I became as big a fan as he was.  I played a bit of rugby at school, but, in those days, they didn’t seem to have a lot of competitive games.”

Indeed, it was not until he left school and took up work in a local garage, that, as a result of three of his colleagues there, Frank Barrow, Dickie Evans and David Harrison, playing for the Saints, Bill started to go with them at lunchtime into the local park, for a throw about with a ball.

“It was Dickie who really encouraged me to go to St Helens, which I did, and being only sixteen, I was put into the ‘C’ team, which was for under seventeens.  I had never really played in a competitive game before, but there were some very good coaches there at that time, who gave me a lot of advice and encouragement, and so I made my way through into the ‘B’ team for under nineteens.

“We had a really successful side that year playing in four finals, two of which we won.  Twelve of the lads were actually signed by St Helens. Not all of them made it through to the first team, but people like Alan Bishop, Joe Robinson and Les Jones all became top-flight players.

“We used to train twice a week in the evenings because of course we all had jobs, with the games being played on the Saturday afternoon.  That was the case for almost every club, and it wasn’t until I came to Salford that I first  experienced Friday night rugby.

“I spent two seasons continuing my progress through the ‘A’ team, and then, aged twenty, got the opportunity to make my debut in the first team.  It was the televised 1969 Champions v Cup Holders game, away at Castleford, following their Wembley victory over Salford, with St Helens having finished the season as Champions.

“I had gone with the team as travelling reserve, and not expecting to play at all, but prop, Cliff Watson, went down with a very bad migraine, which led to me being drafted into the team at second row, alongside Eric Prescott.  Part way through the second half I surprised everyone by taking the ball up and breaking through before rounding the fullback to score.”

Players’ contracts, in those days were primarily around their signing on fee, which in Bill’s case was a thousand pounds – a most substantial amount at that time – alongside weekly wage details, but, unlike today’s contracts of two to three seasons duration, players back then signed for life!  Or not, as Bill was shortly to discover.

“I was at the ground one day, part way through my first season, and was sent for by the Chairman, who informed me that Rochdale were interested in me, and that St Helens were keen on a player exchange deal involving Kelvin Earle, who had twice been on Challenge Cup winning teams, and upon leaving Saints at the end of his first stint there, had gone to Bradford where he had won yet another medal.”

Rochdale, at that time were one of the lowly sides in the league, so for Bill it was very much a case of one extreme to the other, but not always the way round that one might have expected.

“At Saints we had to provide all our own training kit, including our own boots.  I even had to share boots and running spikes with one of the other players because neither of us could afford both.  When I went to Rochdale, though we were really well looked after, with everything we needed, including new boots, being provided,”

On the field, however, things were nowhere near as good.

“We went to Hunslet for the last match of the season, where one time great, Geoff Gunney, by this time in his forties, won the man of the Match award, and we were well beaten.  Fortunately, during the close season there was a change of coach, with the renowned international centre, Frank Myler, coming in, which led in turn to the signing of a number of better quality players.

“Frank then moulded that group into a really good team, which, within a relatively short period of time, ended up in both the John Player and the BBC2 Floodlit Cup Finals, in the 1972/3 season.  So, after that initial set back, I ended up having a couple of really good years with them, and I have had a great deal of time for Rochdale, ever since.

“En route to the Floodlit Cup Final, we had to play Salford at the Willows, in the semi-final, on a rather unpleasant evening in the depth of winter.  The pitch, in those days held water quite badly and the middle even had to be covered with sand.  The Salford backs were all speedsters but on that quagmire, they couldn’t make any impression on us, and we controlled the game extremely well.

“Warren Ayres, our centre, had a superb match, and ran in two crucial tries, to take us through to the final against St Helens.  I’d played against the Saints a couple of time since leaving, but this time it was going to be in a cup final.

“Whenever you return to a former club, you always have a certain extra keenness about you to do well, but, on this occasion, it was the crowd that really got onto me as they always used to with one of their former players, and it was that which geed me up all the more so.  We didn’t win but were extremely unlucky to lose 5-2, because we had a try disallowed for an alleged knock on, but I wish we had had a video referee that afternoon to have checked it out.”

Richard Marshall – “We’re all pulling in the same direction”

Salford Red Devils head coach Richard Marshall is enjoying his first preseason at the AJ Bell Stadium with his new squad. 

The head coach is pleased to see both staff and players gelling well and believes it is fundamental that everyone involved in the Salford camp are on the same page.

Marshall said: “The players are really buying into everything that we’re doing.

“We’ve got a really good camaraderie within the group – the playing squad and the coaching staff – we’re all pulling in the same direction and I think that’s important.”

The head coach went on to talk about how he is enjoying working with his new side, who are certainly being put through their paces.

“What a great group the players are. They’re really enjoyable to work with – very receptive, clever, smart.

“There’s some challenges along the way as well, but that’s our jobs as coaches to make them better players and better people – we’re trying our hardest to do that.”

With confirmation now that Salford will be opening the 2021 Betfred Super League season against Marshall’s old side St. Helens, the head coach is looking forward to playing against familiar faces.

“It’s a great first round tie for us. I’m sure St. Helens are really excited about playing Salford,” Marshall said.

“We’ll be looking to start the season well and I’m sure they will as well.

“I’ve got some great friends there, they’ve got a great group.

“But I’m obviously at Salford now and I’m really enjoying it. I’m really pleased with the move and how everything is going here.”

With the new season approaching, Marshall is looking forward to hopefully being able to see as many Salford faces as possible in the stands.

“We’re all really excited for the season and hopefully our fans can get on board, everyone gets vaccinated and we can all get into the grounds again and enjoy our rugby league again.”

You can get on board by becoming a 2021 Squad Builder member or by purchasing a 2021 season ticket HERE.

Ian Watson | “We want to attack straight from the beginning”

As Salford Red Devils head over to France to face Catalan Dragons on Saturday, Head Coach Ian Watson takes a positive mindset in the hope that his side can bring home two points.

On last weekend’s game against St Helens…

I thought there was loads of positives from playing the best team in the competition at the moment, who everyone’s tipped to win the Grand Final. We competed in large parts and for the first 20 minutes of the game we were really good – really good arm wrestle and we were finishing our sets well in that period.
They just maintained theirs a lot longer and continued to finish the sets really well in corners and upped the line speed defensively. They won the field position through the defence – I thought the defence was outstanding on the day.
For us, a lot of positives. We were a hell of a lot better defensively in the second half and started to dominate on the field position. We just needed to do it straight from the start of the game and have that mentality to stay in those arm wrestles with the top teams for longer.

On Salford’s defence…

It’s a big focus for us as a team and for the lads individually. They want to be known for the defence and they want to build a reputation on having good defence, especially on the back of the chase. Its where the teams win the field position on the back of the early tackles.
We’ve spoken about it this year and we know for four halves of football this year we’ve nilled teams which is a big plus for us as a team, where we’re saying that we really want to be represented in our defence.

On this week’s preparations…

We’ve had a great week after a few niggles after the Saints game, which you get after playing against some of the best teams because they’re tough games like that when they’re pretty much an arm wrestle mentality.
Theres a few players that we’ll assess as we go forward on through the week but the early parts of the sessions from Monday into today and Wednesday, we’ve had two great sessions so hopefully we can take that forward now.

On the squad…

We’ll take Adam Lawton with us this time, so he’ll be in the 20-squad that we take over with us. He’s been doing really well at Rochdale so he’ll put competition on our middles, as will Adam Walker.
With us knowing that he’s back the following week will put more pressure on the players to make sure they’re performing and doing their job because Adam’s a known quality middle so we’ll want to feature him as soon as we can once his bans over. It’s up to the boys to go out there and put their best performance out there so they maintain the place for the following week.

On Saturday’s game against Catalan Dragons…

Catalan are a tough team, it’s a tough place to go. Our records not great over there for the past couple of years so we want to go across there with a real positive mindset and attack that straight from the beginning. We want to do that in attack and in defence so we’re looking to go with a positive performance and try and get the win there this year, but we know it’s a real tough ask to do that and we need to be at our best to do it.
It’ll build on the performance of St Helens. I thought St Helens was a really good performance in terms of our attitude and our effort when playing against the top teams. What we need to do is show that against Catalan and show that we can compete against the best teams, week in and week out because Catalan were up there last year and they won the cup. They had a great performance against Warrington last week, so if we can go out there and set our stall out then I think it’ll bode well for the rest of the season.

On the fans…

I think the support has been great this year and the players talk about it as well! I keep talking about the away games because you can consistently hear them all the time. They’re in good voice and they’re really positive and behind the players when they’re at the games.
The home games have been really loud and vocal and it’s good to see more supporters coming through the turnstiles. We’ve always had a good following go to Catalan so hopefully we can reward those fans with a victory this time.

Ian Watson | “We’re confident in the teams ability to learn”

Head Coach Ian Watson was pleased with the effort from his side and feels the Red Devils can learn a lot from their opponents St Helens.
He also touched on a number of other topics in his post-match press conference.

On the game…

Credit to St Helens on how good they were defensively – that was the key. I thought just they were really consistent in turning us over in a pocket and were really consistent with their line speed and intensity in defence and knowing when to drop off and be really disciplined and not give penalties away coming out of yardage. Their defence was outstanding, and it was something we spoke about at half-time and that we needed to be better at and learn a lesson from a champion team. I think we did do that in the second half, and we were miles better at it and that’s credit to the players. I thought there was a lot of effort and endeavour from our lads.

On learning from St Helens… 

That’s a key thing for us and I think it’s what we’re trying to learn as a group. We’ve got a group in now who understand how we want to play and what we want to be known as. Saints have taught us a lesson in how we want to set about defensively really and to have that patient approach but I suppose that’s why they’re consistently playing in semi-finals and play-offs and until we buy into that and are as good as them at that we won’t get to those semi-finals at this point but we’re confident in the players’ ability to learn and to go forward from here.

On the injuries…

Teams pick up injuries, it wasn’t why we lost the game. Losing George Griffin and Lee Mossop obviously disrupts things but big credit to Daniel Murray he was 18th man and he’s been told to jump in on short notice and stood up against Alex Walmsley and Luke Thompson. Lee Mossop looks like he’s torn his hamstring and is the worst of them all. George Griffin felt it pulling up and when he hit a shield, he felt a pain go through it, so we won’t know how bad that one is until he gets assessed next week.

On the defensive efforts…

Jackson’s trackback try-saving tackle was special as was Ken Sio and Niall Evalds’ effort on Tommy Makinson. We encourage those kinds of efforts from our players because it shows a real desire and work ethic within your team.

On the start to the season…

It’s been a good start and I’d say this performance was good, it’s given us something to build on. I’d say the disappointing performance was the Leeds one for us. I don’t think we represented ourselves well in the Leeds game, but I thought against St Helens we dug in and a lot of other teams may have cracked a lot earlier than what we did. We just need to learn to not get bored doing things and be a little more patient in our approach.

On squad depth…

I’m confident in the squad we have particularly with our middles. We’ve got Adam Lawton who is developing really well playing down at Rochdale Hornets at the moment and his movements have been looking a lot better in those games we’ve been watching. We’ve also got Daniel Murray and Mark Flanagan didn’t play this weekend either so there are guys to drop in there and I don’t think we’re in a desperate situation just yet.
 
Tickets for Salford Red Devils next two home fixtures against Wigan Warriors on 24th March and Hull FC on 7th April are both available to purchase at the AJ Bell Stadium Ticket Office, over the phone on 0161 7861 570 or online HERE. You can SAVE money by purchasing in advance!