Salford Red Devils Head Coach Ian Watson was satisfied with the 44-18 win against Rochdale Hornets in the first pre-season fixture of 2017.

The Red Devils came up against a spirited Hornets side, but were able to record a convincing win, playing some encouraging rugby in the process, and Watson believes that this game time will be invaluable going forwards, he said;

“It was a good hit out for us, we’re at the point where we needed a game just to work on a few things in that kind of pressure situation that you get from having a defence up in your face. All in all we’re pleased with it, the only downside is the couple of injuries we’ve picked up in the first half.”

The game was played at a good intensity, with Rochdale putting the Red Devils under pressure in spells throughout the match, and Watson was pleased to see his team be forced to work hard;

“It was a really worthwhile hit out for us, and Rochdale gave us a tough test last year as well, and there were points in the game today when they came back at us and tested us, and thats what we wanted at this point in the season”

One of the highlights from the game was a fantastic performance from winger Greg Johnson, who looked lively throughout the match and came away with a hat-trick of tries, something that Watson feels will benefit the player greatly;

“Its good for Johnno to get that confidence scoring those tries, he does a lot of work for us off the ball, which we’ve invested into him and his try scoring exploits off the back of that will be a real plus point for us”

As we move ever close to the start of the new season, Watson reflected on what he believes has been a hugely productive pre-season;

“The pre-seasons been great, It’s ran really smoothly, obviously there are certain things that we need keep working on as a group. Most of the things we’ve identified in this game we’ve been working on.”

With 24 player getting a run-out against the Hornets, Watson was pleased to see a number of stand out performances, including that of Niall Evalds, who played in different positions throughout the game;

“I thought Niall was outstanding for us today, when he dropped back into fullback for us again, he was good, he’s been working hard on his game at centre and he performed really well.”

Niall Evalds impressed Ian Watson
Niall Evalds put in an impressive performance against the Hornets

New signing Kris Welham made his first team debut for the Red Devils, and Watson was pleased with the early signs from the clubs newest member;

“Kris Welham was good for us with that centre ability to put Johnno away in the corner. It’s probably been a while since we’ve had a centre with that ability to catch and pass with the defence right up in your face.”

Another new face in the team was Hooker Kris Brining, making his first appearance for the club since signing from League 1 York City Knights, and he made a good impression on his new posts;

“Kris Brining I thought was one of our best in the first half, and Lama (Tasi) and Mossop really added to our game.”

A number of other young player also featured in the friendly, and Watson was pleased to see evidence of strength in depth in the squad;

“We’ve told the young lads not to see themselves in a bit part role in this squad, they are first team players and they have to fight for their place in the team.”

Next up for Salford is a trip to Championship side Halifax, as the Red Devils continue to prepare for the season opener agains Wigan Warriors, at the The Salford Stadium on the 11th February.

Tickets for this game as well as season tickets are available at, or call 0161 786 1574