It was definitely big coat weather this afternoon at the AJ Bell Stadium but despite the chill in the air a lovely sunny setting welcomed the players to the pitch at kick off. Their was hardly any wind whatsoever and the conditions were perfect for Rugby League.
Two old rivals with years of history behind them lined up to face each other once again. Swinton were relegated from the Championship last season and in 2022 will be looking for a big season in League one. Salford had quite a few new faces in their line up. Ryan Brierley started at fullback and Deon Cross made the side to play centre. Brodie Croft and Marc Sneyd made debuts at half back. In the pack King Vuniyayawa and Sita Akauola started the match as the props, exciting youngster Jack Stevens made the bench alongside Alex Gerrard who signed just a few days ago.
The Lions made a really bright start to the match troubling Salford down the middle with some good support play. They spurned the early chance of a penalty goal instead deciding to have a crack at Salford’s defence. The Red Devils held out firm before going in front in the twelfth minute when Croft went dashing over. It was soon back to back tries when Brierley raced down the same side Salford’s left edge to score.
Australian back rower Shane Wright looked impressive in the early stages and he sent Deon Cross over for Salford’s third try.
Geordie lad Sam Luckley chased a neat grubber kick to touch down and it was a shame when the referee adjudged him as off side.
Elijah Taylor showed some great touches at times and if he can stay fit in 2022 he will guide this team around with his intelligence and commitment. His soft hands sent Ken Sio away to score a nice try with Sneyd making it two from four with the conversions, 20-0.
Andy Ackers rounded off the first half catching the Lions defence on the hop.
Swinton deserve plenty of credit for their performance and their patience was rewarded when prolific winger Mike Butt scored. Jack Hansen converted 26-6.
Another smashing pass out the back door from Taylor set up a try for Matty Costello but from the following kick off Taylor came up with a mistake to hand Swinton a slice of attacking possession. The Lions took full advantage when former Salford forward and local lad Will Hope charged over for a deserved try.
Salford finished strongly with three tries. Chris Atkin put Wright in to score and then Wright created one for Ackers. The last word went to Welsh winger Rhys Williams who crossed for Salford’s ninth try of the afternoon.
It was nice to see young Jack Stevens get on the pitch and he showed some nice touches.
A very encouraging attendance enjoyed a terrific afternoon’s entertainment. The Salford Ladies beat Swinton earlier in the day by 30-4
The Red Devils are back in action next Friday when they face Halifax at the AJ Bell Stadium with a 7:30pm kick off.
Salford 48 Swinton 12.