Although this match will be played behind closed doors at Headingley it will count as an away match for Salford.
The two sides met in the opening round of the 2020 season and after Saints’s epic Grand Final win over Wigan in November this looks another tough fixture.
New Salford coach Richard Marshall knows all about the day to day goings on at Saints having worked along side Justin Holbrook and Kristian Woolf in two successful seasons with the Merseyside club.
Salford begin a new era under Richard Marshall.
The bookmakers have Saints as the nailed on favourites to lift silverware once again in 2021 and looking at the strength and depth of their squad it would be hard to disagree. Kristian Woolf hasn’t really made whole sale changes but has brought in some real strong forwards from the NRL.
Over the past few seasons a point has been made by many regarding the size of Salford’s squad. Looking on paper now the squad looks bigger and there does seem to be strength in depth in most positions which will give Richard Marshall options and when injuries happen as they almost inevitably do the cover will be present. Take the half back positions for example, with Declan Patten joining the club to fit in with Tui Lolohea, Kevin Brown and Chris Atkin all four players add different qualities. Danny Addy is also a very versatile player as well as being an experienced campaigner. The back line looks very exciting and the pack seems mobile.
We all know what to expect from St.Helens, they play at a very quick tempo with pace and power from 1-13. They can also tough it out as they showed in the Grand Final last year.
Super League away record.
St. Helens 24
1997 St. Helens 19 Salford 12
1998 St. Helens 48 Salford 12
1999 St. Helens 48 Salford 0
2000 St. Helens 46 Salford 22
2000 St. Helens 50 Salford 28
2001 St. Helens 66 Salford 16
2002 St. Helens 34 Salford 2
2004 St. Helens 40 Salford 4
2005 St. Helens 46 Salford 12
2006 St. Helens 28 Salford 6
2007 St. Helens 48 Salford 4
2007 St. Helens 27 Salford 26
2009 St. Helens 38 Salford 12
2010 St. Helens 58 Salford 34
2011 St. Helens 31 Salford 6 (played at Widnes)
2012 St. Helens 38 Salford 10
2013 St. Helens 14 Salford 10
2014 St. Helens 32 Salford 12
2015 St. Helens 32 Salford 12
2016 St. Helens 34 Salford 20
2017 St. Helens 25 Salford 24
2018 St. Helens 32 Salford 2
2019 St. Helens 32 Salford 30
2020 St.Helens 48 Salford 8
They played for both.
Over the years there has been so much player movement between the two clubs. The town of St Helens is a real hot bed of the game with some fantastic amateur set ups including Thatto Heath, Blackbrook and Clock Face. In the Super League era Matty Smith, Jordan Turner, Lama Tasi, Tommy Lee and Theo Fages have all moved to Saints from Salford. Willie Talu, Tony Puletua, Francis Meli, Mark Edmondson, Matty Ashurst, Andrew Dixon, Danny Arnold, Alan Hunte, Josh Jones, Bobbie Goulding, Lee Gaskell ,Paul Forber, Mark Lee, Jake Emmitt and Anthony Stewart to name a few in recent years to represent both sides.
Paul Forber, a real enforcer for both clubs through the 80s and 90s.
Eric Prescott, Paul Groves, Paul Brownbill, John Mantle, Ken Gwilliam, George Nicholls and Darren Bloor played for both clubs in the pre super League era. The list could certainly go on as there are many more. Alex Murphy and Shaun McRae have coached both sides.
A match to remember Friday 23rd June 2017
St.Helens 25 Salford 24.
This match was arguably eclipsed by the epic match between the two sides in this very fixture in 2019. That match had great drama and a couple of thrilling come backs. In 2017 Salford were on a terrific run of form with Robert Lui and Michael Dobson forming a great understanding in the halves. In this match Todd Carney came in at scrum half to replace the injured Dobson. Carney didn’t play many games for Salford but in this game he showed the quality he possessed when he got it right.
Salford took the lead with an 11th-minute penalty after Saints were caught holding down in front of their own posts, handing Carney a routine kick.
Saints, who had won 12 and drawn one of their last 14 home Super League games, gradually got on top and the pressure told in the 25th minute when scrum-half Smith took on the Salford defensive line before cutting through to touch down from 10 metres. Percival added the conversion and moments later he kicked a penalty to make it 8-2 after Salford’s Kris Welham was guilty of a high tackle.
But Salford, who had won four of their last five away games in Super League, levelled the game after the half-time hooter had sounded. Scrum-half Carney kicked ahead and the bouncing ball evaded the Saints defence, allowing Evalds to touch down by the posts.Carney’s goal made it 8-8 at the break.
Salford burst into the lead within four minutes of the restart. They kept the ball alive on the last tackle and Evalds’ pass found winger Greg Johnson who produced a superb finish to score from close range. Carney’s conversion hit the post.
Robert Lui then powered through to score a try that got the Salford supporters dancing on the terraces. Carney converted to open up a ten point lead 8-18.
The Red Devils were chasing the impossible, a first victory in this fixture since 1980. Ian Watson’s men looked to have sealed the match when Evalds won the race for a Carney grubber kick into the ingoal area and with Carney adding the extras, Salford looked home and dry at 8-24.
That was the cue for the great escape from Saints. James Roby replied for the home side with a try under the posts – his 100th career touchdown – seven minutes from the end and Mark Percival added the conversion.
Winger Regan Grace scored Saints’ third try four minutes from the end to raise the hopes of the home fans though Percival was unable to convert.
With two minutes remaining, Jonny Lomax finished off a 30-metre move and Percival’s goal made it 24-24.
The match was now being played at a frantic pace. Nether side could draw breath or lose focus. As the clocked ticked down Matty Smith received the ball around forty yards out. He connected boot to ball cleanly and as the hooter sounded his drop-goal attempt sailed over to shatter Salford hearts in a cruel finish.
Matty Smith celebrates his last second drop goal against his former club.
The teams that night;
St.Helens. Lomax, Swift, Mackinson, Percival, Grace, Fages, Smith, Walmsley, Roby, Amor, Taia, Wilkin, Knowles.
Subs; McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Thompson, Lee.
Salford. Evalds, Bibby, Welham, Sa’u, Johnson, Lui, Carney, Tasi, Tomkins, Kopzack, Murdoch-Masila, Lannon, Flanagan.
Subs; Hauraki, Jones, Hasson, Brining.
Referee, Scott Mikalauskas
After a very long off-season the action finally gets under way on Friday the 26th March. St.Helens v Salford kicks off a double header at Headingley stadium with Newly promoted Leigh playing Wigan at the slighter later time of 8:15pm. Saints have been fairly modest on the recruitment front for 2021.
Joel Thompson has joined from Manly, Agnatius Paasi from New Zealand Warriors, Sione Mata’utia from Newcastle Knights and Dan Norman from London Broncos. Mata’utia has an older brother called Peter who plays at Castleford Tigers as well as two other brothers who have both played in Australia with the Knights. One notable player missing from the Saints side of last year is James Graham who has now retired.
Joel Thompson arrives from the NRL with a huge amount of experience.
Saints are most likely going to be the team to beat in 2021. This match comes with a great sense of anticipation from the supporters. Salford have the foundations of a very good side now and there is no doubt the club has made great strides over the last few seasons under the previous regime. Richard Marshall seems the perfect man to lead this club forward. He’s already become a big favourite with the supporters and seeing him join the Supporters Trust solidifies the bond he’s started to forge with the club.
The pre season victory over Wigan has given everyone involved with the club a huge boost. I know these matches don’t count for points or prizes but they can help build structures and confidence. Salford’s desire, organisation and fitness in that match were remarkable. A completion rate of 85% in those conditions is not bad at all. The new signings all impressed with all the players looking really familiar with each other. Everyone knew what job they needed to do and the enthusiasm oozed through the side right up to the final hooter.
Friday’s match looks a really intriguing encounter between two sides who like to play fast and expansive Rugby League.
The action gets underway at 6pm.
Keep safe and enjoy the match.