Salford kick off pre-season in style
SALFORD RED DEVILS 52 SWINTON LIONS 6
PRE-SEASON friendlies are traditionally about working on combinations between new teammates and building up match fitness, but there was no sign of unfamiliarity or rustiness for Salford as they ran out 52-6 victors over Swinton.
The difference between part-time and full-time squads was evident, with Stuart Littler’s Lions only able to train three times a week across pre-season, but there were encouraging signs for both coaches.
“For what we’ve worked on in pre-season, we could see little bits out there,” said Red Devils coach Ian Watson. “Everything that was put in front of the boys they reacted to really well, especially when we were making all the changes to mix things up.”
It is no secret that again Salford will have one of the smallest squads in Super League, but the additions the club have made appear to have added greater strength in depth and versatility, while star quality has been retained with the re-signings of Jackson Hastings and Joey Lussick in particular.
Watson added: “We looked quite smooth even with Jackson and Robbie [Lui] coming off and then changing Niall [Evalds] into the halves, but we’ve done a bit of practice going through training with new combinations just in case anything happens.
“We know we’ve got a small squad, but we’ve got players who can play in different positions, so that’s come really good for us today to have that practice in game mode.”
The depth of understanding between Lui and Hastings evident in last year’s Super 8s has only strengthened through a full pre-season schedule together, and the pair were integral in the early exchanges as Junior Sa’u, Hastings and Evalds crossed in quick succession. Mike Butt hit back for Swinton before Lui, Ed Chamberlain and Sa’u all scored to give Salford a 30-6 lead at half-time.
When Lewis Hatton was sin-binned for a professional foul, the Red Devils made the man advantage count, hitting a quickfire double from Greg Johnson and Joey Lussick.
Perhaps the moment of the match came in the closing stages when 16-year-old trialist Connor DaviesAspey made a great break and found Derrell Olpherts who scored in the corner to bring up the 50 for Salford.
Littler said: “We’ll change the team around next week at North Wales and look at picking the right numbers towards the Oldham friendly to get us right for Sheffield. Our focus is Sheffield first game of the season.”
Oldham, meanwhile, had an encouraging 24-10 win over Barrow, while Rochdale beat Mayfield 18-12.
Salford Red Devils’ Ian Watson