Opposition Profile: Salford Red Devils

Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com - 18/09/2020 - Rugby League - Coral Challenge Cup Quarter Final - Catalans Dragons v Salford Red Devils - The Totally Wicked Stadium, Langtree Park, St Helens, England - Salford Red Devils' Kevin Brown celebrates with Kris Welham aftertastes he supplied the winning pass to Dan Sargison

For the first time since their Treble winning season, Leeds Rhinos are back at Wembley in the Coral Challenge Cup Final, taking on Salford Red Devils, who haven’t reached the final stage since 1969. The game is live on BBC One, kick off 3pm.

Let’s take a look at Ian Watson’s Salford side…


Overview

For a side that lost the likes of playmaker Jackson Hastings and heavily recruited in the off season, coach Ian Watson has once again weaved his magic to get Salford Red Devils to their second major final in just over a year. Having reached the Betfred Super League Grand Final for the first time in the club’s history, Salford will play in the Coral Challenge Cup final for the first time since the 1960s.

Six members of Salford’s squad have been to the Wembley Final before with other clubs. Kevin Brown (Warrington, Huddersfield and Wigan) and Tyrone McCarthy (Hull KR and Warrington twice) have featured three times in the Cup Final – McCarthy winning twice with the Wolves and scoring in the 2012 final – while Lee Mossop, Gil Dudson and Kris Welham have also run out at Wembley.

Kallum Watkins is by far the Red Devils’ most experienced at this stage though. The centre prepares to feature in his fifth Final having won twice in 2014 and 2015 while at Leeds. Watkins also joins Tui Lolohea in facing his former club, while Jack Ormondroyd is ruled out after a positive Covid-19 test.

Krisnan Inu has been a stand out performer for the Red Devils in 2020. The outside back scored a try and kicked four goals in the semi final win over Warrington.

Like Leeds, Salford only played two games prior to the Final and both went down to the wire. First, at the quarter final stage, golden point extra time was required to separate the Red Devils from Catalans Dragons. After the final score was locked up at 18 all, thanks to a late penalty goal from Krisnan Inu. Dan Sarginson wrote his name in the history books, scoring his second of the game to send the Red Devils through.

Drawing Warrington in the semi finals, most had the nineteen-time winners as firm favourites to return to Wembley but once again, Salford proved them wrong as Inu, Kallum Watkins, James Greenwood and Joey Lussick edged the Red Devils to a 24-22 win.


Road to Wembley


Challenge Cup Final Form

Saturday’s meeting with Leeds will be the ninth time Salford have reached the Final of the Challenge Cup in the club’s history.

During that time, their sole win came in the 1937-38 season. Having lost five Cup Finals between 1900 and 1920, Salford were confident of a result against first time finalists Barrow but found themselves behind early on. In the second half, a try from Salford centre Albert Gear proved the difference as the Salford took home the Cup for the first time.

Since then, Salford have only participated in two Cup Finals. In 1939, the holders returned to Wembley looking to retain the Cup but lost to Halifax 20-3. Thirty years later, Castleford fought a resilient Salford side to lift the Cup. Salford’s Robert Hill slotted two penalty goals in the first half to put Salford in the lead after 40 minutes – Keith Howe’s try providing the only points try for Castleford – before the Yorkshire side swung the game back in their favour, thanks to Alan Hardisty’s try. Hill kicked another penalty but Keith Hepworth won the game for Castleford with minutes on the clock; Salford going home defeated 11-6 in a Cup final classic .

Previous Challenge Cup Finals

1969: Castleford 11 Salford 6

1939: Halifax 20 Salford 3

1938: Salford 7 Barrow 4

1911: Broughton 4 Salford 0

1906: Bradford 5 Salford 0

1903: Halifax 7 Salford 0

1902: Broughton 25 Salford 0

1900: Swindon 16 Salford 8


Team News


Challenge Cup Record against the Rhinos

Leeds and Salford have faced off eleven times before in the Challenge Cup but this will be the first time either side has met in the Final.

Salford won the first ever meeting against Leeds 12-3 in the quarter final stage of the 1907 Challenge Cup but were later knocked out by Oldham in the semi finals. Since then, Salford have beaten Leeds again twice in the Cup; nilling the men in blue and amber in round two in 1931 and later disposing of Leeds 10-6 in round one of the 1964 competition.

Leeds’ most recent meeting with Salford in the Cup came in the fifth round of the 2012 competition. Click on the image to watch the full match.

Leeds have the better record in the Cup out of the two sides, winning eight out of eleven matches. The Rhinos were the victors in the most recent meeting in round five of the 2012 competition; Shaun Lunt, Brent Webb and Ben Jones-Bishop scoring tries for the eventual finalists in a 16-10 win.

The only final that both sides have played against each other was the old Player’s No.6 Trophy (or League Cup) that ran between the 1970s and 1990s. In the competition’s third year, the two sides met at Fartown, Huddersfield and Leeds took away a 12-7 win; John Atkinson scoring twice as Leeds took home the trophy.


Key Players

JOEY LUSSICK

Position: Hooker

Part of three brothers to play Rugby League professionally (Darcy is at Toronto while Freddie has broken into the Sydney Roosters squad)

Playing in his second Final in two years after helping lead Salford to the Grand Final in 2019

Bio: During all the highs of 2019, hooker Lussick went relatively under the radar. This season he has stepped to the front of the frame at Salford, providing the deciding try in the Cup semi final win over Warrington. Going out of dummy half is his strength but he will also put in a shift on defence, producing 439 already in Super League.

KEVIN BROWN

Position: Half Back

Former Clubs: Wigan Warriors, Huddersfield Giants, Widnes Vikings, Warrington Wolves, Leigh Centurions (loan)

Played in three losing Cup Finals for different teams (Wigan 2004, Huddersfield 2009 and Warrington 2018)

Bio: One of Salford’s most experienced players in the Challenge Cup Final, Brown has shown his best qualities throughout this year’s competition. He was the one that made the pass for Sarginson to score in extra time against Catalans and was instrumental again against his former club Warrington in the semi, so watch out for him trying to take control again on Saturday.