Since the very disappointing home defeat against Huddersfield at the start of July Salford’s form has gone through the roof. The loss to The Giants threatened to derail The Red Devils season leaving Ian Watson’s side a tricky looking visit to the Halliwell Jones Stadium the following week. Even the most optimistic Salford supporter wouldn’t have predicted that performance. A convincing and some what ruthless display saw Salford send the Wolves packing with a 12-22 victory to go with the 12-36 win on Good Friday.
Forty points were put past Catalans then fifty eight away to London. Huddersfield were beaten 32-12 at The AJ Bell Stadium just a few weeks ago and last time out what looked a very tough fixture at Hull saw Salford make it five wins on the trot. Lee Radford and his Hull side knew a win would take them second in the table. A fast start put the Airlie Birds 16-6 up. The Red Devil’s showed fantastic character to blow their opponents away in the second half after fighting back to level the scores at half time.
Watson will be hoping the break for The Challenge Cup has benefitted his side, allowing some bruised bodies to return to the squad.
Last weekend Warrington won the Challenge Cup at Wembley defeating run away league leaders St. Helens. It was a tremendous performance from the Wolves, particularly in defence limiting Saints to just four points in the scorching heat. Daryl Clark won the Lance Todd Trophy but everybody in the Warrington squad played their part in what was a monumental effort. Since 2009 The Wolves have appeared in six Challenge Cup finals, winning four and losing two.
Popular Australian Steve Price, doing a great job for the Wolves.
Australian coach Steve Price Led his side to both the Grand Final and Challenge Cup final last season but were runners up twice. Despite the cup success Warrington have lost their last five league matches and will be desperate to get their season back on track this Thursday.
Super League home record.
1997 Salford 26 Warrington 14
1998 Salford 14 Warrington 25
1999 Salford 22 Warrington 26
1999 Salford 42 Warrington 26
2000 Salford 31 Warrington 12
2001 Salford 26 Warrington 18
2002 Salford 31 Warrington 18
2004 Salford 18 Warrington 37
2004 Salford 6 Warrington 32
2005 Salford 42 Warrington 10
2006 Salford 35 Warrington 34
2007 Salford 32 Warrington 34
2007 Salford 26 Warrington 32
2009 Salford 18 Warrington 16
2010 Salford 10 Warrington 27
2011 Salford 0 Warrington 60
2012 Salford 48 Warrington 24
2013 Salford 4 Warrington 46
2014 Salford 12 Warrington 28
2015 Salford 16 Warrington 34
2016 Salford 30 Warrington 31
2017 Salford 24 Warrington 14
2018 Salford 6 Warrington 22
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, 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, Lama Tasi and John Wilshere.
The very talented Stefan Ratchford in his Salford days.
A match to remember Thursday 3rd March 2016
Salford 30 Warrington 31.
Warrington had started the 2016 campaign in fine form with three excellent victories. They arrived for this clash with Salford with a mean defence after conceding just thirty four points in the seasons opening rounds. Junior Sau opened the scoring with a try in the third minute to put the Red Devils into a 6-0 lead.
The Wolves responded with tries from Jack Hughes and Ben Currie to power in to the lead.
Salford had won their first two home fixtures of the season blasting St. Helens 44-10 in a fantastic performance and also beating Widnes 28-20.
The hosts showed their attacking flamboyance scoring 22 unanswered points before half time.
Josh Jones followed up Michael Dobson’s delicate grubber kick to pouch a try before speedster Greg Johnson capitalised off Jones’s break.
Junior Sau then grabbed his second try on the back of a booming 40/20 kick from O’Brien. The half was then rounded off by man of the moment O’Brien who couldn’t put a foot wrong, mesmerising The Wolves putting Josh Griffin over to open up a 28-12 half time lead. The home supporters were on their feet as the teams trotted off.
As the second half got under way the rain got heavier and both sides were locked in a forward pack arm wrestle. Ben Currie and Justin Carney we’re sin binned for fighting. This seem to unsettle Salford and knock them off their game plan.
A whirlwind 9 minute spell from Warrington saw three tries scored. Ryan Atkins grabbed a brace before Ashton Sims charged over. Salford were clinging on like a boxer on the ropes desperately trying to soak up the punches.
The scores were now level at 30-30.
Salford had chances to win it with Dobson and Robert Lui both failing with drop-goal attempts before Warrington had the final say.
Chris Sandow was off target with a long-range penalty a minute from the end but he just had enough time to slot over a drop goal from similar range to land the crucial blow. A cruel end for Salford and their supporters but the Red Devils were playing some fine rugby competing with the best teams in the league.
The teams that night;
Salford, O’Brien, Carney, Sau, J Griffin, Johnson, Lui, Dobson, Kopzack, Lee, G Griffin, Murdoch Masila, Jones, Flanagan.
Subs, Evalds, A Walne, Tomkins J Walne.
Warrington, Russell, Penny, Evans, Atkins, Lineham, Ratchford, Sandow, Hill, Dwyer, Sims, Currie, Hughes, Westerman.
Subs, Dodds, King, Jullien, Wheeler.
Referee, Robert Hicks
After the high emotions of The Challenge Cup Final weekend, physically and mentally Warrington have got a short turn around to recover.
This could work in both ways for Salford. Will The Wolves arrive jaded or on a roll as they chase their first League title since 1955?
Warrington’s last Championship Winning side of 1955.
Blake Austin missed out on his sides cup final victory as he edges towards fitness. The Australian has been instrumental this year and could yet still play a huge part at what is the business end of the season. It will be interesting to see Steve Price’s 19 man squad on Tuesday.
Former Salford player Stefan Ratchford had an excellent game at Wembley and if selected will be a player to keep an eye on. The Wolves have a very exciting back line and a huge forward pack. The Red Devils will no doubt relish the challenge having beaten Warrington twice at the Halliwell Jones Stadium already this season.
Ian Watson will be hoping to welcome Gil Dudson back to his squad and fellow pack ace George Griffin is also nearing full fitness after a lengthy injury layoff.
Jackson Hastings and Tui Lolohea’s partnership has seemed to look smoother each week since their first match together. Hastings has the guile and ability to guide Salford around the pitch. His game management, drive, work rate and skill makes him one of the best half backs in the country. Lolohea is a clever stand off who continues to grow in confidence and his kicking game in recent weeks has been superb.
The exciting chatter amongst Salford’s loyal band of supporters after the Hull match wasn’t just about the top five but how far can this special group of players finish. Three victories could see a third or even second place finish depending on other scores. The beauty of the situation for Ian Watson is it’s in his sides hands to make the five.
Salford’s last major trophy. 1975/76 championship winners.
The pundits keep writing Salford off but Watson and his players are quite happy to keep proving people wrong. Their is a togetherness, a belief, a hunger and burning desire. Momentum can be very hard to stop sometimes.
It’s been 43 years since Salford last won a major trophy and if you look any die hard supporter in the eye you can see the hurt and disappointment from the past. You can also see a glimmer of hope and anticipation for a dream that most people thought looked impossible back in February.
Thursday night promises to be another thrilling match between two sides who love to playing attacking rugby league.
The action gets underway at 7:45pm, don’t miss this one.
Safe travels and enjoy the match everyone.
Photo credits, The Salford City reporter and The Warrington Guardian.