Sal­ford kick off pre-sea­son in style

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By TOM BRAMWELL


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

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