Salford Red Devils claimed the Agecroft Cup with a comfortable 52-4 victory in their preseason derby fixture against Swinton Lions.
Dan Sarginson was awarded the Peter Smethurst Memorial Trophy for a man of the match performance on his Salford bow and returning stars Kris Welham and Niall Evalds both bagged braces.
Ian Watson’s side saw some more new faces, as preseason brought a wave of fresh talent for the Salford fans to admire, and it was Salford who started the game the most threatening.
Ken Sio thought he had scored the first try of the game in the twelfth minute to give Salford the lead, but play was called back by the referee for a knock on.
Swinton held on as the Red Devils edged closer to the touchline, but the Lions’ defence could not stop Welham, who cut inside after receiving the ball from Tui Lolohea and gave Salford the lead in the 23rd minute and their first try of 2020.
Minutes later, Salford scored their second as Gil Dudson, running onto a Joey Lussick pass, smashed through the Swinton line and grounded the ball.
Welham continued to put his stamp on the game by intercepting a Swinton pass in the 36th minute and sprinting 70 metres down the right channel to set Ken Sio up, who extended Salford’s lead.
Just before half-time, Welham scored his second try of the afternoon, reacting first to a dropped ball and punishing Swinton for their mistake.
Halftime: Salford Red Devils 22-0 Swinton Lions
It took only two minutes for the Red Devils to strengthen their lead in the second-half, with last season’s top try-scorer for the club, Niall Evalds, diving over the line.
Swinton replied with some great passing that was inches from giving Samuel Grant a clear path to the touchline, but the Lions lacked the extra quality to produce anything.
Evalds found himself on the scoreboard again in the 52nd minute, as the full-back darted low and found the touchline on the right-flank.
Salford’s number one really took the second-half by storm. A mazing run through the centre in the 66th minute left Evalds with yards of space to lay off Chris Atkin, who grounded the ball between the sticks on his first game in a Red Devils shirt and followed it up with a conversion.
Two minutes later Rhys Williams also scored his first try for Salford. The Welsh international darted over the line down the left channel for the Red Devils’ eighth try of the afternoon.
Continuing to move through the gears, Ryan Lannon eased through Swinton’s defence in the 71st minute, with a strong run followed by a dummy pass to leave the Lions dumbfounded and to give Ed Chamberlain a simple conversion from the centre.
The Lions were determined to reach Salford’s touchline before the final whistle, and Ryan Cray did just that in the 77th minute, diving over the line down the left channel to put his team on the scoreboard.
The Red Devils finished on top, as Josh Johnson scrambled over the line to the left of the sticks in the final minute.
Salford will be looking for a repeat of today’s result next Saturday when they host Leigh Centurions.
Salford will face off against Leigh on Saturday 11th January at the AJ Bell Stadium (kick off 12pm).
This will be the first time the two teams will meet since the 2018 Challenge Cup match.
The early kick off time ensures the game will not clash with Manchester United v Norwich kicking off the same day at 3pm.
Head coach Ian Watson said: “The game will be a great game for both teams which should see a big lift in intensity, it will be exactly what we need at that stage of preseason.
“Leigh like to play with a lot of movement in attack, like Swinton, which will test us defensively and they will physically be up for the contact so it’ll set us up well going into the start of the Super League season.”
Salford Red Devils recorded a 40-14 victory in their final home match before the start of the regular season.
A brace of tries from new signing Rhys Williams helped see off the challenge from Leigh Centurions.
The Red Devils were on top from the off, with Joey Lussick diving over in the eighth minute, only to find himself held up. Moments later, he did exactly the same action and that time was able to get the ball down.
Leigh struck back in the same fashion through Liam Hood, showing signs John Duffy’s side were determined to compete.
Williams dived over in the corner for the second time in successive games, restoring the Red Devils’ lead.
The Centurions attempted to hit-back again, this time through Junior Sa’u, but Tyrone McCarthy won possession back with a firm tackle.
Salford then pressed their opponents with Tui Lolohea forcing a dropout, before Kevin Brown fed the ball over the top to Ken Sio, who stepped inside to score.
The Red Devils continued to thrown the ball around off the back of a break from Niall Evalds and Brown was once again the man to claim the assist. This time, sending James Greenwood in to score.
Halftime: Salford Red Devils 22-6 Leigh Centurions
Leigh came out reinvigorated for the second-half. Brad Holroyd went over first, before Sa’u marked his return to the AJ Bell Stadium.
Williams then sealed the man of the match award with a slaloming run to score down the left and reestablish Salford’s dominance.
A forceful run from Sebastine Ikahihifo then skittled the Leigh defence and he was able to get an offload away for Josh Johnson to score, meaning he had claimed tries in successive fixtures.
The Red Devils then extended their winning margin in the final play of the match, as Ed Chamberlain raced away to score after the hooter.
Salford will next be in action when they travel to Warrington for Mike Cooper’s testimonial on Thursday 23 January.
Full-time: Salford Red Devils 34-14 Leigh Centurions
Salford tries: Lussick (10), Williams (23, 63), Sio (34), Greenwood (39), Johnson (77), Chamberlain (80)