It was a mixed bag for Salford and Warrington at the Magic Weekend. The Wolves were pretty unconvincing in their victory over Wigan on Sunday while Salford were beaten by Castleford on the opening game the previous day.
The Red Devils showed plenty of effort and endeavour but it wasn’t enough to really trouble the Tigers. Castleford had quite a few players missing but so did Salford. It was the lack of size in the pack that seemed to hamper Richard Marshall’s team. With big men like Pauli Pauli, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Jack Ormondroyd, Jack Wells, James Greenwood and Elijah Taylor all missing and add to that the retirement of Lee Mossop Salford were always on the back foot.
Their were bright sparks again though as Ken Sio added to his seasons try tally to hit the front in the try scoring charts with 15 in the Super League. Joe Burgess touched down again and forwards Sam Luckley and Ellis Robson put big shifts in.
The big news in Warrington over recent weeks has been the signing of former Wigan ace George Williams. This adds to what is already a star studded line up with the likes of Gareth Widdop, Blake Austin and Stefan Ratchford. The Wolves have plenty of playmakers, pivots and match winners all over the park. Add to that a very quick back line and a big pack Warrington are capable of beating anybody in the league. It’s been consistency that’s let them down in recent years. Yes they can win a huge match against a Wigan or St.Helens then a week later it’s after the Lord Mayors show with an unexpected defeat. With the wonderful match between Catalans and St.Helens at the weekend clinching the league leaders shield for the Dragons the climax of the season should be fever pitch. Warrington, St.Helens and Catalans all have a great chance of glory at Old Trafford with one or two teams just below them in with a shout too.
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
2019 Warrington 12 Salford 22
2020 Warrington 24 Salford 0 (match forfeited, Warrington awarded win)
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.
A MATCH TO REMEMBER FRIDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER 2002.
Warrington 2 Salford 22.
Salford were really struggling at the bottom end of the table along with Wakefield and Warrington. One team would be relegated so this match became a vital one. A really good vocal following packed in to the away end behind the sticks. The noise and anticipation before kick off was electric. Salford had already lost at Warrington earlier in the season 18-9.
Wilderspool was old and tired as a ground but was full of character. In modern day rugby league with new stadiums it’s fair to say I miss these places.
Don’t get me wrong there are some fantastic facilities in the sport in 2021 but there was something magical about a game under the lights at The Willows, Wilderspool, Central Park and Hilton Park to name a few.
It turned out to be one of the most faultless displays I’ve ever seen from any Salford side. It was almost mistake free. The defence was sensational, tackling The wolves to an absolute standstill.
Alan Hunte was the hero as he scored two tries against his former club, the clincher coming when he intercepted a Lee Briers kick and sprinted the full length of the pitch with 10 minutes to go.
Jason Nicol went over in between Hunte’s two scores, and Australian forward Greg Ebrill added a further try with two minutes to go. Salford’s away following were thrilled at full time and celebrated as if they had won the league. It certainly was a special night and a magical atmosphere.
The Reds were unrecognisable from the team which had gone nine games without a win. This victory lifted Salford off the bottom and dropped Wakefield in to the relegation zone.
The season went right done to the last game. Salford had to beat Castleford at home to stay up. Wakefield thrashed Warrington on the final day. Sadly for the reds a poor performance which summed 2002 up saw the Tigers win 10-20 at the Willows to confirm relegation.
2003 would see Karl Harrison’s Salford bounce straight back after an epic season in division one, but that’s another story for another day!
The teams that night;
Warrington Wolves: O’Reilly; Smyth, Alstead, Westwood, Appo; Briers, N Wood; Fozzard, Clarke, Hilton, Guisset, P Wood, Burns. Subs: Penny, Noone, Sturm, Stevens.
Salford City Reds: Gibson; Reardon, Maloney, Nicol, Hunte; Blakeley, Watson; Baynes, Alker, P Highton, Treacy, Wainwright, D Highton. Subs: Broadbent, Shaw, Coley, Ebrill.
Referee: B Connolly (Wigan).
Everyone loves an exciting away trip and the Warrington fixture is one I always look forward to. The Wolves previous home Wilderspool was raw and intimidating. Their was always a hostile atmosphere and a good rivalry. Since the clubs move across the town to the Halliwell-Jones Stadium they have made great progress. Investment has been heavy and Warrington have brought in some fantastic players over the last decade. Now serious contenders year on year their will be changes next year with Daryl Powell coming into replace Steve Price as coach. Warrington are a club that seem to carry a weight of expectation. The signing of George Williams just recently has helped bolster what is already a very strong squad. If the Wolves can hit form now their is no doubt that they can make the Grand Final and win their first Championship since 1955.
Salford come into this fixture as huge underdogs. Some bookmakers have given Richard Marshall’s side a start as wide as eighteen points. The Red Devils are doing it tough at the moment with the amount of forwards sidelined through injury but with two games left the team will be looking for a positive end to what has been a disappointing season. Their is no simple explanation to where Salford are in the League table and their are quite a lot of mitigating factors.
The recent thumping victory of Hull proved that Salford can play and score points it’s finding that level of performance on a consistent basis that’s the conundrum to solve.
The action gets underway at 3pm.
Keep safe and enjoy the match.
Pictures courtesy of Steve McCormick, The Warrington Guardian and Salford’s match day programme.