Catalans v Salford.
After a thrilling weekend of Challenge Cup action its back to League games this weekend and Salford face a tough trip to the South of France. That part of Europe has seen sweltering temperatures of recent weeks and while this Saturday it’s not forecast to be quite as high but still around the thirty degree mark which is warm enough. Playing Rugby League in that kind of heat is a real mission of its own. Add to that a match against Catalans who are top of the table.
Salford were in terrific form going in to last months Cup quarter final at Hull Kingston Rovers. Defeat that day though has seen four more losses on the spin in the league leaving the Red Devils outside the playoffs and the mood around the club has changed. Victory in France could be the catalyst to really kick start the season. With some tricky matches in the run in it looks like a difficult task to make the top six but this group of players are more than capable of doing it.
Steve McNamara’s Dragons are top of the Super League with fourteen victories from nineteen matches. Salford have enjoyed success in this fixture and Catalans are a team that you can occasionally catch off guard. In their last home game they were beaten by Huddersfield and its that vulnerability that tends to let the Dragons down.
Without wanting to sound to pessimistic Salford’s season is hanging in the balance and victory in France would give the whole club a huge confidence boost. Sometimes that one match can propel you forward, last year the Red Devils went on a thrilling run towards the end of the season that almost took them to a Grand Final. The Super League still looks wide open in 2023 with only Wakefield and Castleford fighting it out at the bottom. The rest still have a chance in the race for the top six.
Super League away record.
2006 Catalans 22 Salford 28
2006 Catalans 26 Salford 6
2007 Catalans 66 Salford 6
2009 Catalans 38 Salford 6
2010 Catalans 14 Salford 22
2011 Catalans 10 Salford 22
2012 Catalans 40 Salford 18
2013 Catalans 40 Salford 6
2014 Catalans 37 Salford 24
2015 Catalans 40 Salford 40
2016 Catalans 42 Salford 32
2017 Catalans 38 Salford 6
2018 Catalans 44 Salford 10
2019 Catalans 0 Salford 46
2020 Catalans 30 Salford 14
2021 Catalans 42 Salford 6
2022 Catalans 14 Salford 46
They played for both.
Despite Catalan Dragons short existence there are a number of players who’ve played for both clubs including Jodie Broughton, Luke Burgess, Iain Thornley, David Berthezene, Todd Carney, Michael Dobson, Richie Myler and Gil Dudson.
A match to remember Saturday 20th August 2022.
Catalans 14 Salford 46.
Perhaps the turning point last season was the away win at Warrington. A terrific second half comeback saw the Red Devils triumph 24-32. The match was absolutely pulsating, in fact breathtaking at times. I was lucky enough to be stood behind the sticks and the energy on the terraces was extraordinary. After that match Salford had a minor blip at the Magic Weekend before thumping home wins in the glorious summer sunshine over Catalans, St.Helens and Huddersfield. Everything the players did seemed to turn to gold. Add to that a terrific effort to win away at Toulouse, Salford travelled to Perpignan full of confidence to face Catalans.
Three years previously I had witnessed one of the best Salford performances I’d ever seen in my time following the club when Ian Watson’s Red Devils side won 0-46 away to Catalans. Well this match in 2022 eclipsed that in my opinion.
Salford had Croft and Sneyd in the halves who were linking up really well. Alex Gerrard was playing at loose forward and his ability to play with a lovely pair of hands added another dimension to the attack. Kallum Watkins was becoming a revelation in the second row and with Chris Atkin operating of the bench Salford had a real intelligent player to rely on.
Catalans winger Tom Davies was first to cross the line in the seventh minute but after that it was one way traffic as Salford hit the hosts with some real quality. Sneyd and Croft both scored excellent individual tries to put Salford 4-12 up. Centre Deon Cross sent Watkins over for a fine try and with a half time lead of 8-18 Salford weren’t home and hosed yet but they looked comfortable.
In the early stages of the second half Andy Ackers sent Watkins racing 40 metres for his second try. Salford now looked like scoring every time they had the ball. The threats came from one to thirteen leaving the Dragons helpless, chasing shadows.
Ken Sio stepped around his opposite number Tom Davies to score in the left corner in the 52nd minute.
Chris Atkin and Ryan Brierley scores tries to bring the forty points up to leave the home supporters stunned.
Salford finished the scoring with Cross going over in the final minute, Sneyd converting for 46-14. A real demolition job and a great advert for how Rugby League should be played.
The teams that night
Catalans, Mourgue, Davies, Langi, Whare, Yaha, May, Drinkwater, Segueir, Mcllorum, Napa, Garcia, Chan, Cozza.
Subs, Dudson, Da Costa, Goudemand, Le Cam.
Salford, Brierley, Sio, Cross, Lafai, Burgess, Croft, Sneyd, Akauola, Ackers, Dupree, Taylor, Watkins, Gerrard.
Subs, Lannon, Atkin, Ormondroyd, Luckley.
Referee, Ben Thaler.
The energy battle on Saturday is going to play a huge part especially with the extremely warm temperatures. The Dragons are a big side in both the pack and the back line. It’s been well documented that Salford are struggling in the pack and it’s been obvious watching from the stands in recent weeks. The kicking game will be so important, if Marc Sneyd can get the ball in behind and pin the Dragons in there own half Salford can work off that. The Red Devils have the flair and attacking prowess to cause any team problems but you’ve got to earn that right to play by winning that battle in the middle of the pitch.
Hot weather and a firm dry pitch could be perfect for Brodie Croft and Marc Sneyd to work some magic. The substitute bench is going to be interesting to see which way Paul Rowley will play.
The big news this week saw Tyler Dupree sign for Wigan and Brad Singleton has joined Salford. Singleton is expected to fly with the team to France. He arrives with plenty of experience having played in three Grand Finals and a Challenge cup final.
The bookies have Catalans as favourites with Salford having a ten point start on this weeks coupon.
The action gets under way at 6pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the match.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos.