Old rivalry and friendships were reunited at The AJ Bell Stadium as Salford Red Devils began the new decade against Swinton Lions. Both sides were playing their first game of the pre season and looking to shake off the ring rust ahead of the long campaign ahead.
Salford handed debuts to Dan Sarginson, Chris Atkin, James Greenwood and Luke Yates in the starting thirteen. With quite a few new faces on a long substitute bench. Ed Chamberlain returned after a long injury lay off and young local lad Luis Roberts was also included.
The first chance of the match came to the lively Lions. Rob Fairclough doing the damage but Mitch Cox couldn’t hold the pass.
Kris Welham continued last seasons tremendous form with another action packed performance. His super off load to Ken Sio provided the winger a great chance before the ball was spilled over the line. Welham grabbed the games first try off Tui Lolohea’s neat pass.
Salford soon doubled their lead when Gil Dudson showed great footwork to power over. The Welshman looked unstoppable at times and was in prime physical condition.
Krisnan Inu converted the two tries to give the Red Devils a 12-0 lead.
Swinton were still fighting hard and in determined mood. Jose Kenga burst through with stand off Jack Hansen in support the try looked certain. Lolohea had other ideas and his last gasp ankle tap saved Salford.
Welham then sprung into life anticipating an interception perfectly to race away. His offload put Sio in for a try.
Salford’s star centre then bagged his second try on the stroke of half time pouncing on a mistake to score.
Red Devils boss Ian Watson made changes at the break. Kevin Brown replaced Lolohea to partner Atkin in the halves. Elliot Kear and Rhys Williams also made their debuts and both showed nice touches.
Brown became the general and started to dictate the play linking up well with fullback Niall Evalds who looked dangerous every time he had the ball. Browns first involvement set up Evalds with a fantastic pass to score and it wasn’t long before he grabbed his second try after gliding through the Lions defence like a knife through hot butter. Evalds then turned provider laying on a try for Atkin. Former Swinton star Atkin was heavily involved all afternoon and looks a very clever player.
Former London winger Rhys Williams powered over from close range to bring up the forty point mark. All Salford’s substitutes were used with some impressive displays from forwards Sebastine Ikahihifo and Jack Ormondroyd. Connor Jones was busy at hooker after replacing Joey Lussick. Lussick continued his consistent standards with a very accomplished first half.
Ryan Lannon sprung into life scoring a try out of nothing to put Salford 46-0 up.
Credit to Swinton Lions who kept trying to test the Salford defence and they were rewarded late on when Ryan Cray squeezed in at the corner.
Josh Johnson made it a perfect ten tries for Salford with a close range touchdown on the last play of the game.
It was nice to see the Peter Smethurst memorial Trophy on display again after a number of years and this went to Salford’s Dan Sarginson.
Both Watson and Lions boss Stuart Littler have plenty of positives to take out of the match. Speaking after the match Watson said “all these early games are for players to put their hand up and say you can’t leave me out of the team. This game was about getting through the processes and doing them well. If we’re pushing players out of the team who started last year that means we’ve got a better level of player.”
Salford are back in action on Saturday at the AJ Bell Stadium when they face Leigh Centurions with a 12pm kick off.
Salford 52 Swinton 4.