Last Friday’s defeat at home to Huddersfield struck a blow towards Salford’s top five hopes. With a small squad the season is beginning to takes it toll. With Lee Mossop and George Griffin out injured and Adam Walker suspended for the last two matches the pack has certainly struggled. Walker is set to return this week after his two game ban.
Warrington are currently second in the table eight points behind run away leaders St. Helens. The Wolves are on course to finish second barring a drastic collapse in form and come in to this match on the back of a solid victory away at London last weekend.
The two sides met in this very fixture on Good Friday with Salford coming up with arguably their best performance of the season. The Red Devils shocked the Wolves 12-36 at Easter and we’re fantastic in every department that day.
Despite being the lofty table position Warrington have been vulnerable at times this season with teams exposing their weaknesses on a number of occasions. Perhaps their biggest flaw is complacency.
Australian Steve Price is building a very good reputation on these shores and in his first season was a huge success. Defeats in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley and Grand Final at Old Trafford to Catalans and Wigan respectively have left the Warrington coach hungry for Trophies in 2019.
For Salford the main worry is running out of steam at the business end of the season. The race for the top five is still on but with a small squad and the sale of miraculous half back Robert Lui to Leeds Ian Watson and his players face a stern and gruelling test. With five excellent victories away from home already this year Salford are capable of creating magic on the road. Those five wins could quite easily have been more. A terrific fight back away at St. Helens saw thirty unanswered points scored before going down to a heartbreaking two point defeat. Another match was Hull away where Salford underperformed but came back late on just running out of time in a 35-32 loss.
Speaking after last Friday’s defeat to Huddersfield Watson questioned some of his players attitudes. To get the victory this week attitude and desire need to be perfect along with a huge defensive effort.
Super League away record.
1997 Warrington 23 Salford 8
1998 Warrington 4 Salford 37
1999 Warrington 28 Salford 14
2000 Warrington 32 Salford 18
2000 Warrington 38 Salford 10
2001 Warrington 14 Salford 39
2002 Warrington 18 Salford 9
2002 Warrington 2 Salford 22
2004 Warrington 46 Salford 20
2005 Warrington 48 Salford 14
2005 Warrington 32 Salford 22
2006 Warrington 6 Salford 24
2006 Warrington 6 Salford 22
2007 Warrington 42 Salford 6
2009 Warrington 62 Salford 20
2010 Warrington 32 Salford 2
2011 Warrington 16 Salford 18
2012 Warrington 24 Salford 20
2013 Warrington 68 Salford 10
2014 Warrington 36 Salford 20
2015 Warrington 22 Salford 8
2016 Warrington 40 Salford 14
2017 Warrington 12 Salford 38
2018 Warrington 30 Salford 14
2019 Warrington 12 Salford 36
They played for both
Here are a few players to wear the red of Salford and the primrose and blue of Warrington.
Vinny Anderson, Richie Barnett, Steve Blakeley, Martin Crompton, John Duffy, Phil Ford, Martin Gleeson, Andy Gregory, Danny Halliwell, Neil Harmon, Alan Hunte, David Highton, Danny Lima, Lama Tasi, Tyrone McCarthy, Francis Maloney, Adrian Morley, Chris Morley, Ben Murdoch Masila, Richie Myler, Adam Neal, Gareth O Brien, Rob Parker, Stefan Ratchford, Stuart Reardon, Ian Sibbit, Kevin Tamati, Mike Wainwright and John Wilshere.
Alan Hunte, a prolific try scorer for both clubs.
A match to remember Monday 29th May 2017.
Warrington 12 Salford 38
As far as matches to remember go this is one that will stay with me for a long time. It really was a complete performance against a good Warrington side. The month of May in 20017 was a particularly good one for Ian Watson’s side. Some fantastic results playing a thrilling brand of rugby made Salford a team to be feared in Super League as the elite cartel of Rugby League sat up and took note.
With just one defeat in thirteen matches which included a 18-54 demolition away at Hull. A 16-31 victory at Wigan and three days prior to the Warrington game Catalans were put to the sword at The AJ Bell Stadium 50-12. Anything seemed possible for a side full of confidence. With Michael Dobson guiding the team around the pitch and Ben Murdoch Masila in devastating try scoring form making him one of the most sought after forwards in the country.
Ironically Dobson missed this match after being rested. Todd Carney stepped in to partner Robert Lui in the halves and the Maverick Australian was sensational. Jake Bibby, Niall Evalds and Junior Sa’u twice crossed in a dominant first half for the Red Devils, with Brad Dwyer’s dart from dummy-half the sole reply.
Leading 6-22 at the break Salford’s huge travelling away support behind the posts were in great voice adding to the magnificent atmosphere.
Robert Lui continued to torment the Warrington defence with his full repertoire of skills.
Eight minutes into the second half the blockbusting Sa’u punched another hole in the Warrington defence to get Evalds over for his second try before he swooped on Carney’s clever kick to complete a sensational his hat-trick.
Hat trick hero in 2017 Niall Evalds.
Tom Lineham bagged a consolation try for the Wolves late on but this day belonged to Ian Watson’s Red Devil’s.
Young hooker Kris Brining had the final say scoring a try off the back of O’Brien’s 40/20 kick.
It was a day when everything clicked for Salford and despite a dip in form in the following weeks a fourth place League table finished after the regular season rounds was a fantastic accomplishment.
The teams that day;
Warrington, Ratchford, Russell, Hughes, Atkins, Lineham, Brown, Patton, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Jullien, Philbin, Westerman.
Subs, Sims, Dwyer, King, Savelio.
Salford, O’Brien, Evalds, Sau, Bibby, Johnson, Lui, Carney, Tasi, Brining, Hasson, Hauraki, Murdoch Masila, Flanagan.
Subs, Kopzack, Wood, Krasniqi, Murray.
Referee, Phil Bentham
Blake Austin has been a revelation for Warrington this year. The Australian has lit up Super League with some outstanding performances. Salford did a fantastic job on Good Friday to nullify the threat of Austin and need to do the same this Friday. The Wolves are far from a ‘one man team’ though and possess strike players all over the side. Former Salford star Stefan Ratchford has had a terrific career at Warrington. The thirty year old Wiganer is in his eighth season at the Wolves and is a prolific try scorer as well as being a very reliable goal kicker. Ratchford has been out injured of late.
Blake Austin has thrilled the Warrington supporters in 2019.
Steve Price has a very competitive squad to pick from. Flair and pace in the backs, with a big forward pack that includes Lama Tasi and Ben Murdoch Masila. Ben Westwood is a real veteran now but still leads from the front. Ben Cooper, Daryl Clark, Chris Hill and Ben Currie have all played international Rugby League in recent seasons. Since returning from Rugby Union, winger Josh Charnley has carried on scoring tries at a very impressive rate. When playing for Wigan Charnley averaged almost a try a match and he’s not too far off that for Warrington either.
Tui Lolohea and Jackson Hastings will link up in the halves for the third time on Friday night. Salford’s pack needs to dominate to allow these two the room to play. Of course you need to score points to win matches but defence is so important every week. With the threats Warrington have Salford will no doubt get tested from minute one. If that defence can be solid The Red Devils can cause problems with ball in hand as they have already shown this season.
Niall Evalds picked up a nasty eye injury last Friday which looked particularly bad on the photographs doing the rounds on social media. Ian Watson will be hoping he’s recovered enough to make the squad. Evalds is top try scorer this season so far for his side and is fast approaching one hundred career tries for Salford. Gaining international honours last year with the England Knights the star fullback could be in contention for Great Britain’s tour this autumn.
One of the most consistent performers for the Red Devils has been Gil Dudson. The Welsh international has worked his socks off this season carrying the ball strongly and tackling well. With injuries to the pack another man who has stepped up is former Warrington player Tyrone McCarthy. By no means the biggest forward but he certainly plays above his weight week after week with some all action displays.
Junior Sau seems to have become the forgotten man at Salford having not featured for a good number of games now. Sau is one of longest serving players at the club and having spent time on loan at Wakefield recently is fit and waiting for his chance. Greg Johnson made his first appearance of the season last week against Huddersfield and it will be interesting to see who Ian Watson picks in his three quarter line this Friday.
The action gets under at the Halliwell Jones Stadium at 7:45pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the game everyone.