After a faultless start to the Qualifiers Salford welcome Toronto Wolfpack this Saturday. 3 wins leave Salford leading the way and a mean defence that has conceded just 20 points has seen renewed optimism amongst the The Red Devil’s faithful. The Wolfpack will poise a threat though having spent big this season. Gareth O Brien’s transfer during the season was a big loss for Ian Watson’s side and along with the other ex Salford players now plying there trade in Canada this is sure to add fuel to what is going to be a powder keg atmosphere. A fantastic afternoon of Rugby League is in store and a game not to be missed.
Gareth O Brien made a high profile move earlier this season
They played for both.
Despite Toronto short existence there’s quite a few players who represented both clubs; Gareth O Brien, Adam Sidlow, Olsi Krasniqi, Andrew Dixon, Mason Caton Brown, Jake Emmitt, Cory Paterson, Reni Maitua and Luke Menzies.
Former Salford forward Adam Sidlow is now a key part of the Wolfpack
A Match to remember 23rd April 2017 Salford 29 Toronto 22
This is the only time the two sides have met. A challenge cup tie last season.
Toronto were rolling over everyone in League one while Salford were having a fantastic season themselves. This victory for the Red Devil’s was the start of a seven match winning run.
It was a match full of controversy, Justin Carney was shown the red card and this match would be his last Salford appearance.
Toronto coach Paul Rowley brought his side to The AJ Bell Stadium brimming with confidence. There was an edge to the Wolfpack, they were physical and played it near to the knuckle. Salford did what they needed to do in difficult circumstances. As a supporter this match reminded me of a match against Leigh at the Willows in 2003. The Grand final qualifying semi final. A game in which Paul Rowley then playing for the Centurions was shown the red card.
Sometimes it’s about the result more than the performance and the cup tie last April is a fine example.
Debutant Ryan Brierley scored one of Toronto’s four tries having joined from Huddersfield in midweek.
It was the first competitive defeat that the Wolfpack, who have won all five of their League 1 matches in 2017, had suffered.
Kris Welham’s try put Salford in front but Liam Kay and Quentin Laulu-Togagae replied, and Brierley touched down for a debut score in between Johnson’s double for The Red Devils
Michael Dobson and Gareth O’Brien, who also landed a second-half drop-goal, were the home side’s other scorers, while Fuifui Moimoi crossed late on for Toronto.
The teams that day were ;
Salford: O’Brien; Johnson, Jones, Welham, J Carney; Lui, Dobson; Mossop, Wood, Tasi, Griffin, Murdoch-Masila, Flanagan.
Subs, Bibby, Kopczak, Krasniqi, Walne.
Toronto Wolfpack: Wallace; Laulu-Togagae, Hall, Moimoi, Kay; Worthington, Pownall; Jacks, Beswick, Penkywicz, Bailey, Brierley, Laithwaite.
Subs, Whiting, Sidlow, Bussey, Wheeler.
Action from last season’s cup tie
Toronto’s last 6 games
Batley H Won 64-18 (Championship)
Rochdale H Won 52-10 (Championship)
Featherstone H lost 12-30 (Championship)
Halifax A Won 14-0 (Qualifiers)
Hull Kr H Lost 22-28 (Qualifiers)
London H Won 34-22 (Qualifiers)
Salford’s last 6 games
Castleford H Lost 6-24 (Super League)
Catalans A Lost 44-10 ( Super League)
Leeds H Won 38-22 ( Super League)
Hull Kr A Won 10-28 ( Qualifiers)
Widnes H Won 32-6 ( Qualifiers)
Halifax A Won 4-62 (Qualifiers)
After last weekends win against Halifax at The Shay in front of a fantastic following of Salford supporters momentum is definitely building. The noise created last Sunday was something special and it certainly helped spur the team on. Salford are playing with so much confidence at the moment, Jackson Hastings infectious attitude on and off the pitch has pulled the whole club together and put a smile back on supporters faces. Nobody knows where form and confidence come from, perhaps it’s belief that Salford now have. Competition for places is always good and now Ian Watson seems to have the tools in his armoury to do himself justice.
With a spine that includes Niall Evalds, Robert Lui, Jackson Hastings, Josh Wood and Mark Flanagan Salford have the qualities to take the two points this Saturday.
Toronto have plenty of Super League talent in there squad and a vast amount of experience. Matty Russell and Mason Caton Brown carry pace. Ashton Sims, Bob Beswick and Richard Whiting have played at a high level for many years.
The Wolfpack gave Hull Kr a huge fight just a few weeks ago and on there day are capable of beating anyone in the qualifiers. It promises to be a fascinating clash of two very different styles of Rugby League that coaches Ian Watson and Paul Rowley believe in. The action gets under way at 3:15pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the match, Paul Whiteside.