Their are still plenty of reasons to be cheerful as a Salford supporter. Last weeks heavy defeat at St Helens will hopefully provoke a good response from the players this Saturday. The Saints played some fantastic free flowing rugby league last week and everything they touched turned to gold. Their was plenty of honest graft and endeavour from Salford and one result in round one can soon be eradicated by some solid home performances in the coming weeks.
Toronto Wolfpack got their first taste of top flight rugby league in a doubleheader at Headingley when they played Castleford on Sunday. The Tigers came out on top with a comfortable 10-28 victory. Former Salford players George Griffin and Derrell Olpherts made debuts in that match for Castleford.
Making his eagerly awaited debut for the Canadian side was Sonny Bill Williams.
The duel code international star has been one of the biggest stories of the off season with his own barrage of media attention. One things for sure Salford will be looking to nullify his threat with a big performance this week.
This is a match I am really looking forward to. We saw glimpses in the pre season games of our attacking flair and their were even some positive signs in last Friday’s defeat at Saints.
The club have been busy off the field marketing this game with local schools and it will be great to see lots of youngsters enjoying the day.
The two sides have met twice before and both those games were very physical and fiery affairs. The Wolfpack have ex Salford players Adam Sidlow, Andrew Dixon and Gareth O Brien in their 2020 squad. Joey Lussick’s brother Darcy could also be in contention for Saturday.
2017, Salford 29 Toronto 22, Challenge cup.
2018, Salford 28 Toronto 16, The Qualifiers.
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 back rower Andrew Dixon, now with Toronto.
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 this cup was 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 had 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 Devil’s.
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.
Lama Tasi is met by Jack Bussey and Jake Emmitt in that Fiery cup tie in 2017.
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.
Referee, Jack Smith
Saturday’s match .
In the first of four home games Ian Watson’s Red Devils will be eager to collect the two points on offer. Toronto are the new boys in Super League and are still a bit of an unknown quantity. The Wolfpack have a sizeable pack with plenty of experience. Jon Wilkin made his debut for Hull kr 18 years ago, after playing over 400 games for St Helens he moved to Toronto and helped them to promotion last season.
Former Salford second rower Andrew Dixon has also played in some big matches over the years and scored a try in the Grand Final back in 2010.
Sonny Bill Williams is without doubt the box office name in the squad. He started on the bench last week against Castleford with not much of an impact. Their is no doubt about the quality he possess and he will definitely be one to keep an eye on.
Liam Kay and Matty Russell have plenty of pace on the flanks, Josh McCrone and Joe Mellor are likely to orchestrate things at half back.
Ian Watson has quite a few players waiting for their opportunity. Several first team players who missed out on selection last Friday played for the newly formed Salford reserves on Saturday. In an entertaining match at a very blustery Ruskin Drive home of Pilkington Recs ARLFC, Saints edged out Salford 24-22.
As we await the squad announcement later this week I wouldn’t be surprised if Salford’s is very similar to last week with perhaps the odd shuffle made in the pack.
Ian Watson has a new contract at Salford.
This match promises to have plenty of spice and on paper looks a real intriguing encounter. I am sure the Salford faithful will gave their team a heroes welcome after the pulsating experiences of 2019. Add to that the recent news of Ian Watson signing a new contract their is plenty to be excited about.
The action gets under way at 2pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the match everyone.