Huddersfield v Salford.
Salford’s slump in form and a few weeks of resurgence from the Giants sees the two clubs just two points apart on the League table. Watching the Giants get thumped at Headingley just a few months ago most people wrote off their playoff chances, now it seems they are definitely in with a chance and Friday nights match is pivotal for both sides.
I thought Salford were very unlucky not to get the win last time out against St.Helens. The intensity they showed in the first half was outstanding and the 15-2 half time lead was well deserved. If the Red Devils can come out firing like that from the kick off they can’t beat Huddersfield with no problems.
Ian Watson has been under a lot of pressure this season but the people in charge at the Giants have not panicked at all. Chairman Ken Davy has kept faith with his coach and I think that’s pretty commendable these days. I don’t know Davy on a personal level but he seems a very honourable gentleman and a man that’s certainly done great work at Huddersfield over the years. In a way he reminds me of the former Salford chairman John Wilkinson.
The race for the top six is reaching a thrilling climax with only a handful of matches remaining in the regular season. Only Wakefield and Castleford are cut adrift and the other ten sides are all in with a chance of the Grand a Final Old Trafford. Salford are desperately seeking a victory to end this run of defeats and we all know one win can give a huge amount of confidence to a team.
I think sometimes in sport the confidence aspect is completely overlooked. Take Warrington for example, they have arguably the most talented squad in the Super League competition but their season is slowing melting away. Team spirit, confidence and work ethic all go hand in hand. If you can get that blend mixed to perfection then you’ve cracked it!
Super League away record.
1998 Huddersfield 12 Salford 16
1999 Huddersfield 24 Salford 10
2000 Huddersfield/Sheffield 10 Salford 18
2001 Huddersfield 24 Salford 32
2001 Huddersfield 35 Salford 14
2004 Huddersfield 26 Salford 14
2004 Huddersfield 28 Salford 22
2005 Huddersfield 26 Salford 10
2006 Huddersfield 32 Salford 18
2006 Huddersfield 24 Salford 18
2007 Huddersfield 16 Salford 18
2009 Huddersfield 4 Salford 24
2010 Huddersfield 52 Salford 4
2011 Huddersfield 52 Salford 22
2012 Huddersfield 36 Salford 10
2013 Huddersfield 46 Salford 4
2014 Huddersfield 10 Salford 36
2015 Huddersfield 12 Salford 18
2016 Huddersfield 24 Salford 26
2017 Huddersfield 20 Salford 30
2018 Huddersfield 12 Salford 30
2019 Huddersfield 14 Salford 34
2020 Huddersfield 16 Salford 24
2021 Huddersfield 8 Salford 9
2022 Huddersfield 34 Salford 2
2022 Huddersfield 0 Salford 28 (play off match)
They played for both.
Here is a selection of players who have played for both clubs,
Steve Kerry, Danny Arnold, Greg Austin, David Bradbury, Jodie Broughton, Ryan Clayton, Gavin Clinch, Greg Eden, Simon Finnigan, Matt Gardner, Lee Gaskell, Martin Gleeson, Bobbie Goulding, Darrel Griffin, Josh Griffin, Neil Harmon, David Hodgson, Graham Holroyd, Andy Johnson, Phil Joseph, Craig Kopzack, Michael korkidas, Tommy Lee, Martin Moana, Chris Nero, Robbie Paul, Luke Robinson, Jordan Turner, Adam Walne, Paul White,Stephen Wild, Luke Yates, Theo Fages, Jake Bibby, Josh Jones and Tui Lolohea.
A MATCH TO REMEMBER Friday 18th June 2021.
Huddersfield 8 Salford 9.
There was certainly a fair amount of emotion going into this match. Ian Watson had left Salford at the end of the previous season to join Huddersfield and the Red Devils now had Richard Marshall in charge.
In the week building up to the match a lot of the talk seemed to be around Ian Watson facing his former club and how the supporters would react. For Salford though they had to concentrate on the task in hand. They owed themselves, Richard Marshall and the Salford supporters redemption after two woeful performances in recent weeks.
Perhaps Watson’s departure from Salford wasn’t ideal. With the restrictions last year the supporters couldn’t say fair well either and it seemed to end a little soar. Watson worked wonders at Salford with the team reaching two major finals and some of the results and performances away from home particularly in the 2019 season helped to put the club and the City on the map.
Every coach in Super League is under pressure to perform and Marshall has taken the blame and the brunt of the criticism following the defeat at Hull Kingston Rovers. He was very noble and loyal to his players in protecting them. Surely now the Red Devils need to repay their coach and tonight seemed the perfect opportunity.
The weather was slightly cooler than of late with a bit of light drizzle in the air at kick off. The pitch looked in good shape and the stadium is one of the finest in the Super League. The travelling supporters from Salford contributed to a good atmosphere in what was the Giants first home match in front of their own fans in 2021.
Dan Sarginson returned for Salford replacing Morgan Escare at fullback. Joe Burgess and Ken Sio swapped positions from last week with Burgess playing centre and Sio on the wing. Declan Patton came in at stand off for Tui Lolohea and James Greenwood took Pauli Pauli’s place in the second row. Josh Johnson and Oliver Roberts returned on the bench with Sam Luckley missing out this week.
Huddersfield had former Salford player Luke Yates in their side starting at prop with Josh Jones the loose forward. Lee Gaskell and Jack Cogger started in the halves for the Giants with Aidan Sezer was on the bench.
It was a tight opening to the match with both sides completing their sets. Aidan Sezer replaced Jack Cogger in the eighth minute due to an injury.
Salford struck first, Jack Wells was stopped inches short before Andy Ackers darted over from the play the ball. Chris Atkin converted 0-6. The Red Devils were playing with plenty of enthusiasm and urgency. It was nice to see after the recent weeks struggles. Dan Sarginson seemed to give his side a huge boost with his blockbusting runs and no nonsense defence. After a hard working debut last week young on loan centre Ben Davies again was impressive.
With things going well seven minutes from half time Salford forward James Greenwood was shown a red card for a high tackle. It was a case of mistaken identity. Sarginson was the culprit but the referee sent off the wrong man! Sezer kicked the penalty, 2-6.
Patton extended Salford’s advantage kicking a penalty goal just before the break. The lead was much deserved after a real solid first half from the Red Devils who had worked their socks to out play the Giants.
Huddersfield got the first points of the second half after some good support play. Back rower Joe Wardle found the space to touch down. Sezer levelled the scores at 8-8 with a successful conversion.
Despite being a man down Salford seemed to be organised and playing to a structure. As the match entered the final quarter it really was on a knife edge with both sides defending well and hunting a crucial mistake. The Red Devils defended well after a Giants forty twenty. Scrapping for each other to hold their line.
With fifteen minutes remaining Salford forced a drop out and from the next set calmly built pressure before Chris Atkin dropped a goal. 8-9.
On the next set Salford chanced their arm from a penalty electing to run it instead of taking the two points on offer. The Giants managed hold their line.
Frantic play at the opposite end saw Huddersfield move the ball out wide looking to find space with the man advantage. A try looked certain on the left edge but some how Salford’s cover defence got across to force a knock on.
Salford coach Richard Marshall was on the touch line as the match entered the final six minutes. The tension in the stadium was awesome. Giants coach Ian Watson barked out the orders to his players who went searching for a match winning score. The character from the Red Devils was remarkable and they forced another drop out.
Sezer attempted a drop goal with two minutes remaining it hit the post and bounced dangerously before Davies rescued it for Salford. Surely it would be Marshall’s night now and it certainly was. A thrilling match in West Yorkshire and Salford’s winning record on this ground continued.
The teams that night;
Huddersfield, Golding, McGillvary, Leutele, Wardle, Cudjoe, Cogger, Gaskell, Yates, O’Brien, Wilson, Edwards, Greenwood, Jones.
Subs, Sezer, Lawrence, Joe Wardle, Trout.
Salford, Sarginson, Sio, Burgess, Davies, Williams, Atkin, Paton, Ikahihifo, Ackers, Wells, Livett, Greenwood, Taylor.
Subs, Ormondroyd, Burke, Johnson, Roberts.
Referee, Scott Mikalauskas.
Over the last decade or so Salford have done tremendously well in this fixture. As I mentioned earlier on the tell tale signs were evident in the St.Helens fixture. Paul Rowley’s side are capable of beating anyone on their day and Rugby League can be a game of fine margins. Take Salford’s last three home matches. With a bit more composure and the odd slice of good fortune the three defeats against Leeds, Leigh and Saints could of been victories. Salford would then be sat pretty on twenty six points. There is still so much to play for and Friday’s match is huge for both clubs.
Brad Singleton made his Salford debut last time out and the big Cumbrian prop made his mark. Singleton is a welcome addition to the pack.
The Giants have got plenty of talent in their side. Jake Connor has been finding form in recent weeks along with former Salford player Tui Lolohea. Connor seems a lot more effective at fullback with Lolohea partnering Olly Russell in the halves. Captain Chris McQueen is always dangerous and knows where the try line is. Chris Hill is another stalwart in the pack and despite his advancing years the thirty five year old always puts a top shift in. I mentioned Warrington and there talented squad earlier well the same can be said of the Giants. They have invested heavily over the past few seasons.
The action gets under way at 7:45pm
Safe travels and enjoy the match.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos.