After two straight victories Salford Red Devils welcome table toppers St. Helens on Thursday night.
Both sides have suffered injury setbacks in recent weeks and this match promises to test both squads. The Red Devils have had some success recently in this fixture which has been a televised match on numerous occasions since our move to The AJ Bell Stadium. St. Helens were victorious on their last visit in September 2017 4-30 in the Super Eights but Salford have won the last two regular season games on their home soil.
The Saints have been one of the major success stories of the summer era claiming the inaugural Super League Title in 1996 and made it a double with a Challenge cup win at Wembley. Another challenge cup trophy followed in 1997.
Saints have won 6 Super League titles and seven Challenge cups since 1996, throw two World Club Challenge victories in there as well and it just shows what a super power in British Rugby League they are.
Under coach Justin Holbrook the brand of rugby seems to be exciting the supporters once again, with an open expansive style keeping them on the edge of their seats.
With 10 wins from there opening 12 games, the best attack and best defence St. Helens are going to take some stopping on Thursday night.
Super league home record
Salford won 6
St. Helens won 14
1997 Salford 39 St. Helens 26
1998 Salford 14 St. Helens 18
1999 Salford 10 St. Helens 23
2000 Salford 4 St. Helens 58
2001 Salford 16 St. Helens 56
2002 Salford 24 St. Helens 28
2004 Salford 30 St. Helens 20
2005 Salford 22 St. Helens 33
2006 Salford 10 St. Helens 12
2007 Salford 20 St. Helens 32
2009 Salford 20 St. Helens 10
2010 Salford 42 St. Helens 34
2011 Salford 22 St. Helens 56
2012 Salford 10 St. Helens 32
2013 Salford 10 St. Helens 52
2014 Salford 0 St. Helens 38
2015 Salford 6 St. Helens 52
2016 Salford 44 St. Helens 10
2017 Salford 22 St. Helens 14
2017 Salford 4 St. Helens 30 (Super 8s)
They played for both
Over the years there has been so much player movement between the two clubs. The town of St Helens is a real hot bed of the game with some fantastic amateur set ups including Thatto Heath, Blackbrook and Clock Face. In the Super League era Matty Smith, Jordan Turner, Lama Tasi, Tommy Lee and Theo Fages have all moved to Saints. Tasi returned after just one season at Langtree Park. Willie Talu, Tony Puletua, Francis Meli, Matty Ashurst, Andrew Dixon, Danny Arnold, Josh Jones and Anthony Stewart to name a few.
Paul Groves and Darren Bloor played for both clubs in the pre super League era. Alex Murphy and Shaun McRae have coached both sides.
Friday 21st April 2006 a match to remember
Salford 10 St Helens 12.
Jason Hooper put Saints ahead on six minutes with the help of the video referee although David Hodgson replied for the Reds on 10 minutes.
Ian Hardman collected Sean Long’s kick to make the score 10-4 and Jamie Lyon added two points after the break.
Salford gave everything to try and win the game and Simon Finnigan’s late try gave some hope but Saints just hung on.
In what was a pulsating evening at The Willows Karl Harrison’s Salford side came mighty close to a famous win against a Saints side who were by far the best team in the country at the time.
Salford went into the game with seven wins from their opening 10 league games but two first-half tries effectively sealed their fate.
Hooper scored the first after Leon Pryce found him with a neat offload although Hodgson replied soon after when he jinked his way through the sleepy Saints defence.
John Wilshere failed to convert and Saints increased their lead on 19 minutes when scrum-half Long’s deft cross-field kick was caught by Hardman, who raced in untouched to score.
Jamie Lyon’s penalty increased the lead to 12-4 but Salford responded superbly, pouring forward at every opportunity.
Their pressure finally told when Malcolm Alker teed up Finnigan 14 minutes from time and although Saints had a few scares, they were able to preserve their slim lead.
The world class Jamie Lyon in breath taking form was probably the difference between the two sides that night. But the 2006 Salford side was certainly one to be proud.
Finishing the regular season in 5th place, our highest league finish since 1979/80 season when we led the table for quite a chunk of the season before finishing 4th.
The team line ups that day were;
Salford: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Littler, Moule, Wilshere, Dunemann, Robinson, Baldwin, Alker, Highton, Coley, Brocklehurst, Finnigan.
Replacements: Haggerty, Charles, Clayton, Myler.
St Helens: Wellens, Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Hardman, Pryce, Long, P Anderson, Cunningham, Fozzard, Sculthorpe, Gilmour, Hooper.
Replacements: Cayless, Roby, V Anderson, Graham.
A win on Thursday would be a huge boost for Salford and cement our place in the top eight. St. Helens however possess a formidable pack and plenty of explosive pace in their three quarter line. Add to that the magic of Ben Barba and it’s easy to see why they’re top of the table. Defeat in their last away fixture against Wakefield will give Salford plenty of hope especially the way The Red Devils dispatched Trinity last Friday. On top of that both sides will be making changes due to injury. It promises to be another mouth watering clash and one not to miss. The action gets under way at 7:45pm.
Enjoy the game everyone, Paul Whiteside.