Paul Rowley’s Salford side certainly did the business last Friday. Going to Wheldon Road in front of a sell out crowd was always going to be a tough task. The players seemed to take it all in their stride putting in a thoroughly professional performance and were the better side in every department.
Marc Sneyd bossed the game and made the right decisions when called upon. Despite his error from the first kick off Brodie Croft showed some great touches and Castleford couldn’t seem to pin him down. I thought Deon Cross looked exceptional. Strong in defence and superb with the ball he looked like he’d been playing top flight Rugby League for years. Ryan Brierley seemed at home in the fullback position, every question the Tigers asked him answered. I could go right through the team. Everybody did their job well and as coach Rowley said after the match the away supporters were sensational the way they got behind the team and roared them home. It was a very special and enjoyable night.
Salford welcome Toulouse to the AJ Bell Stadium this Sunday. The French side put in a brave display against Huddersfield Giants in their opening fixture but Ian Watson’s side swept them away in the second half. It can take teams a while to get used to a new competition sometimes and Toulouse will want to improve on last week. Salford can’t afford to underestimate their visitors and need to be on their guard.
Salford 26 Toulouse 10 challenge cup 2003.
Salford 44 Toulouse 10 Qualifiers 2018.
They played for both.
Andrew Dixon, Harrison Hansen and Jodie Broughton.
A match to remember 26th January 2003 Challenge Cup.
Salford 26 Toulouse 10
Full-back Jason Flowers scored the first and last tries for Salford, with Alan Hunte, Stuart Littler and Cliff Beverley touched down.
Australian James Wynne provided Toulouse’s only real highlight, a searing break setting up winger Ludovic Perolari.
Toulouse then got the score back to 14-10 when full-back Dave Mulholland slid over for a 67th-minute try and stand-off Julien Gerin added the angled conversion.
But the Reds quickly regained the ascendancy, with second rower Simon Baldwin breaking clear to send Beverley over for his first try for the club.
Flowers then sealed on the win with his second try, Gavin Clinch adding a second goal.
It was a fiery contest, ill tempered at times but Karl Harrison’s side just did enough to progress to the next round of the Challenge cup. It would be an exciting cup run in 2003.
The teams that day were;
Salford: Flowers; Hunte, Littler, Beverley, Arnold; Bowker, Clinch; Coley, Alker, P Highton, Baldwin, Lowe, Marsh. Substitutes: Charles, D Highton, Gorski, Baynes.
Toulouse: Mulholland; Perolari, Zitter, Kelly, Couturier; Gerin, Wynne; Pramil, Leib, Rodriquez, Amigas, Raguin, Robinson. Substitutes: Gay, Delpoux, Frayssinet, Estebanez.
Referee: C Morris (Huddersfield)
Toulouse in focus.
Founded in 1937, two years after the French Rugby League Federation, they are six-time winners of the French Rugby League Championship.
Toulouse hosted the first ever French rugby league Lord Derby Cup Final in 1935 when Lyon Villeurbanne beat XIII Catalan at the Stade des Minimes. The first rugby league club in the city were Gallia de Toulouse who started the 1935 season but lasted only two matches before dropping down to the amateur level of the newly introduced sport. Toulouse Olympique were formed in 1937 by Jean Galia and played their first league match on 24 October 1937 losing 14-44 at home against RC Albi at their new home the Arnaune Stadium now called the Stade des Minimes. The club finished 8th in that debut season under coach Jean Galia. In their second season, 38/39 they reached the cup final losing 3-7 against XIII Catalan and finished 5th in the league. The clubs last match before the war was against Villefranche de Lauragais winning 62-5. During the war years, like other rugby league clubs in France, the club were forced to play rugby union following the ban on rugby league by the Vichy regime in France.
In 1944, Toulouse reached the Semi-Final of the French Cup in rugby union. In the meantime the Arnauné stadium was confiscated by the State, like most of the assets of the French Federation of rugby league. Following liberation by the Allies and the restoration of the French Championship, the club were on the losing side twice when they met Carcassonne in the finals for the 1944-45 and 1945-46 competitions. After two decades away from the top, another strong team emerged that included Pierre Lacaze and under coach Georges Aillères having finished runner-up in the league in 63/64, they then lifted their first league title the following season beating US Villeneuve in the final 47-15. During the 1960s they also reached four cup finals but lost them all, 1962 against RC Roanne XIII 10-16, 1963 against AS Carcassonne 0-5, 1964 against US Villeneuve 2-10 and 1968 against AS Carcassonne 2-9. During the early 70s they lifted two more league titles, in season 72/73 they beat Marseille XIII 18-0 and in 74/75 they beat AS Saint Esteve 10-9. Their 1976 cup final defeat to XIII Catalan 8-23 would be their last final appearance in either league or cup until the new millennium.
The club played in the Rugby Football League’s Championship competition in 2009 and 2010. They returned to the Elite One Championship in 2011, but in 2016 again joined the RFL system, this time in League 1, the third tier of English rugby league, being promoted to the Championship at the end of that season.
Victory over Featherstone Rovers in the Million pound game last season 34-12 gave Toulouse promotion to Rugby Leagues Top Flight.
Salford go into this match as favourites with the Bookmakers with quite a few giving the French side a twenty point start in the handicap betting. The Red Devils need to play at the same intensity as they did last weekend if they are to keep building momentum. Paul Rowley will have one or two selection headaches but it would be difficult to drop anybody out from round one.
Their seems to be a real feel good factor around Salford at the moment after all the hard work on and off the field in the close season.
Toulouse will bring plenty of experience in their squad and in the three quarter line they have pace with Matty Russell and Ilias Bergal. Former Catalans fullback Tony Gigot can be a real handful when he’s on form. He won the Lance Todd Trophy at Wembley in 2018 and will be looking for some consistent form this season having been named club captain.
This match looks an intriguing encounter, both sides like to play attractive and attacking rugby. The weather might have a big say in each teams tactics on match day. It’s been a wet, windy and stormy week to say the least.
The action gets underway at 3pm.
Keep safe and enjoy the match.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos.