I think I said in the match report on Sunday that Rugby League can be a cruel game. Salford have everything in that second half against only to be pipped by some brilliance at the end by Jai Field who is a super player. The sport can be pretty brutal at times too. Salford’s squad was already decimated by injuries and to add to that Ryan Brierley picked up a nasty rib injury and Elijah Taylor failed his head assessment. These too will both miss this Fridays match with St.Helens. Brodie Croft was outstanding for Salford last time out and this will be another game for the exciting Australian to impress.
It’s been a difficult few weeks for the Red Devils but Sundays effort will give the players confidence and despite the defeat brighter days lie ahead. Hopefully some of the injured players will start returning. Next weekend the team will get a rest when the Challenge Cup Semi finals take place. This will surely help the players rest up and re charge the batteries for the two home games coming up in May.
The away fixture at St Helens hasn’t seen a Salford victory since January 1980. 38 consecutive defeats. It’s a run that has come close to ending in the last few years. The 2017 fixture saw Saints claw their way back from 8-24 down to win 25-24 with a Matty Smith drop goal. The 2019 clash was another epic one. Saints edged it 32-30. A late controversial try stole the match from Ian Watson’s Red Devils.
Last weekend Kristian Woolf rested a lot of his senior players to give a youthful side a chance at Castleford. Saints lost the match but their were some impressive performances. Ben Davies who had an excellent loan spell with Salford last season caught the eye again. Ben is the grandson of the late Dougie Davies who was a Championship winner with Salford back in the 1970s.
Woolf has named the usual strong Saints squad for this Friday. Last week saints had a fourteen point start on the betting coupon which is unheard of really in this day and age. This week the bookies expect a big win for the hosts and they’ve given Salford a twenty four point start.
Super League Away Record.
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
2021 St.Helens 29 Salford 6 (behind closed doors at Headingley)
2021 St.Helens 28 Salford 0
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 Joey Lussick, 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.
Steve Rule, 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 12th January 1980.
St. Helens 17 Salford 18
After a successful period for Salford in the 1970s as the decade ended cracks were starting to appear. Players were moving on and some getting older but their was still some stalwarts at the club with Mike Coulman, Colin Dixon, Keith Fielding, Kenny Gill, Alan Grice, Steve Nash, Eric Prescott and Maurice Richards all on the playing roster. Between them they had tons of big game experience and hundreds of matches under their belts.
The 1979/80 season would go on to be modestly successful for Salford with a final league position of fourth. Top of the table at Christmas time and unbeaten in the league for the first few months of the season the supporters were dreaming of good times again.
December 79 was a tough month and three defeats against three of the top sides of that period Bradford, Widnes and Hull Kr were a slight set back.
With young star hooker Paul O’Neil on international duty playing for Great Britain under 24s changes were made. Kevin Ashcroft came in at hooker for O’Neil and Sammy Turnbull played right centre.
Scrum halves Dave Harris and Steve Nash were both injured so new signing John McAtee made his debut.
Eric Prescott tackled everything putting in an all action display in the pack.
Mike Coulman ran the ball hard all afternoon against a very tough St. Helens pack that included terrific ball playing forward George Nicholls and big Powerful Eric Chisnall.
The game was nip and tuck all the way. Salford’s three tries came from Coulman, Prescott and Colin Whitfield. Goal kicking full back Steve Rule booted four conversions but the unlikely match winner was veteran hooker Kevin Ashcroft. His drop goal snatched it for Salford in what was a thrilling afternoon at Knowsley Road.
The teams that day;
St. Helens, Brian Parkes, Les Jones, Clive Griffiths, Derek Noonan, Roy Mathias,
Steve Peters, Johnny Smith, Mel James, Graham Liptrot, Eric Chisnall, Chris Seldon, Peter Gorley, George Nicholls.
Subs, Denis Litherland and Roy Haggerty.
Salford, Steve Rule, Keith Fielding, Sam Turnbull, Colin Whitfield, Maurice Richards, Frank Wilson, John McAtee, Mike Coulman, Kevin Ashcroft, Tony Gourley, Chris Mcgreal, Stuart Williams, Eric Prescott.
Referee, Mr J.E. Smith. (Halifax) .
As we expected Salford coach a Paul Rowley has been forced to make changes due to injuries once again. This has handed an opportunity to some of the younger players and its great to see Myles-Dalton Harrop in the squad. Amir Bourouh is also in there and these two lads could get their big chance. As previously mentioned Ryan Brierley misses out through a rib injury. Brierley has been playing some terrific rugby in recent weeks creating plenty of tries and scoring opportunities.
You would expect Morgan Escare to slot in at fullback in Ryan’s place. Joe Burgess is still missing but in Rhys Williams deserves his place on the wing. The hard working Welshman always puts the graft in and can score a try given the chance. Kallum Watkins has given the side a huge boost since his return and last week at Wigan in the second row he put a fantastic shift in.
St.Helens have flair, power, pace and international quality ripping through their squad. It was always going to be a tough task following on from the good work former coach Justin Holbrook did but Kristian Woolf has made his own mark. We can talk all day about the wonderful attacking rugby but it’s the defence that is the key to success under Woolf. Saints have conceded just ninety six points in ten matches so far and that’s sensational. To keep teams to single figures week in week out on average is what Championship winning teams are built on.
Salford have had a tough opening ten matches with some difficult assignments away from home. It will be a relief to get some home games under the belt in the month of May.
Friday night on paper looks a very tough ask for Salford’s battered and bruised squad. Factor in the Easter schedule to that as well. The Red Devils need to go out and try to keep things as tight as possible. You can only do your best and as a supporter myself that’s all I want to see on Friday night, the result will look after itself.
The action gets under way at 8pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the match.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos.
Also photo credits to the Salford Scene and the Saints Heritage