9 Aug 2019

THE LOWDOWN: GIANTS VS SALFORD

All the details as we face off against Salford for the third and final time on Sunday.

The Brief

Sunday afternoon sees us in another big clash in our bid to avoid the drop, as we travel to the Salford Red Devils, where we won 36-18 just over a month ago. A loss for ourselves could see us joint bottom by the end of the weekend, whilst a win for the Red Devils could see them enter the playoff places.

The Teams

The Opposition

The two sides met on the opening day of this season’s Betfred Super League season, the Red Devils winning 34-14 at the John Smith’s Stadium. They followed that up a week later by beating newly promoted London Broncos 24-0 at the AJ Bell Stadium. Their first loss of the year followed as they were beaten 46-16 at home by the Leeds Rhinos. They followed that win a narrow 24-22 win at Hull KR, before losing 26-4 at home to league leaders St Helens the following week.

The Red Devils then opened March impressively, by beating the Catalans Dragons 46-0 in Perpignan. Unfortunately for Salford, they went on to lose their next four Betfred Super League games. They were narrowly beaten 24-20 at the Castleford Tigers, before losing 30-22 against the Wigan Warriors a week later. A 33-22 defeat at Wakefield Trinity followed, before they lost 23-16 at home to Hull FC.

A 76-6 win over the Rochdale Hornets in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup allowed the Red Devils to get their first win in five games. A 36-12 win over second placed Warrington saw them win on Good Friday. Easter Monday didn’t go as well for Salford, losing 30-26 at home to the Wigan Warriors.

Back to back victories followed. Firstly, they beat the London Broncos 30-10 in the capital. They followed that with a 28-16 home victory over the Leeds Rhinos. A 32-18 at home to Hull KR saw them knocked out the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, before they were narrowly beaten 32-30 by St Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Salford were then beaten at the Dacia Magic Weekend, 22-20 to Hull KR. The following week, Salford lost to Rovers’ derby rivals, Hull FC, losing 35-32 at the KCOM Stadium. The Red Devils got on track the following week, beating Wakefield Trinity 44-20 at the AJ Bell Stadium. Salford then made it two wins from two, beating the Castleford Tigers 26-16.

Form

Salford will be the form side coming into this game, having won their last three Betfred Super League games so far this season. We have won two of our last five games in the league too.

Six weeks ago, Salford were beaten 28-12 at Wigan, whilst the Giants were beaten 36-10 at Wakefield in West Yorkshire.

The game after that saw our last clash with the Red Devils, as we beat the Greater Manchester 36-18 at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The following week, the Red Devils started their run of form, as they beat the second placed side, Warrington Wolves, 22-12 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. The same weekend, we were beaten 32-28 at home by the Catalans Dragons.

We got back to winning ways the following week, winning a crucial game at Hull KR 18-12 in East Yorkshire. The Red Devils beat the Catalans Dragons 40-14 at home in the same week.

Last week saw contrasting fortunes for both sides. We were beaten 44-0 at home by the Leeds Rhinos, whilst Salford won 58-28 in the capital, against the London Broncos.

Key Players

Jackson Hastings

Half-back Jackson Hastings in the Red Devils star man, The 23-year-old has started all 24 Betfred Super League games so far this season for the Red Devils, he has scored seven tries, as well as supplying a competition high of 31 assists so far in 2019.

Hastings is also the third highest metre maker in the competition this season, making a total of 3040 metres so far in 2019, an average carry of 6.71 metres per carry. Hastings also leads the carries in the Betfred Super League so far this season, with 453.

The Australian won’t be at Salford much longer though, having agreed to join the Wigan Warriors next season.

Suaia Matagi

Off-season recruit, Suaia Matagi, has played in 23 of our 24 Betfred Super League games so far this season. The prop forward has scored one try.

Matagi has made 1723 metres so far in 2019, an average metre gain of 6.84 per carry. Atagi has also made 560 tackles for the Giants so far this season, as well as 84 marker tackles.

Key Battle

Niall Evalds v Darnell McIntosh

One of the key battles on Sunday afternoon could be that of the two fullbacks. McIntosh has moved around the backs lately, but with his primary position being number one, he will be determined to get the better of this battle.

Between the two fullbacks, they have only missed one Betfred Super League game between them so far this season, with Evalds playing in all 24 for the Red Devils, whilst McIntosh has played in 23 of ours. McIntosh has scored eleven tries for us so far this season, also providing eleven assists. Evalds, on the other hand, has scored a competition high 21 tries, setting up nine for his teammates.

McIntosh has made the most metres of the two this season, making 2308 so far in 2019, an average gain of 7.35 metres per carry. Evalds has made 1882, with an average gain of 7.38 metres. Evalds has made the more tackle busts though, making 97 compared to McIntosh’s 53.

Previous Games

The two sides have already met twice this season, as we clashed on the opening weekend at the John Smith’s Stadium, as well as playing each other in Salford six weeks ago.

The first clash in West Yorkshire earlier on this season saw us take the lead, courtesy of Izaac Farrell’s second minute penalty, which gave us our first points on the 2019 season and put us 2-0 up in the game. Salford then took the lead in the 13th minute. On the last tackle they went down the short side and Junior Sa’au forced his way over in the corner to give them the lead. The resulting conversion was missed, so it remained 4-2. Just after the half-hour mark the lead was extended. Salford passed the ball from right to left and it allowed Ken Sio to slide in the corner. Once again, the conversion was missed so it stayed 8-2.

We responded three minutes into the second half. Jordan Turner getting the ball out to Akuila Uate on the right wing and he scored. Farrell’s conversion made it 8-8. A 52nd minute Joey Lussick penalty re-gave Salford their lead at 10-8. Two minutes later, Salford scored their third try of the game. He bounced his way over the line in the right corner, Lussick’s conversion made it 16-8. Evalds scored his second three minutes later, he picked up a reverse kick to extend the lead. The missed conversion meant it remained 20-8. Sio added his second ten minutes from time, he strolled in after a pass from Evalds. He converted his own try to make it 26-8. Evalds then completed his hat-trick seven minutes from time, the missed conversion meant it was 30-8 as we approached the final five minutes. Kruise Leeming then went over from dummy half for the Giants to reduce the deficit. Farrell’s conversion made it 30-14 with two minutes left. Salford then scored again on the hooter. A scrappy play ended with Derrel Olpherts touching down in the right corner. Once again, the conversion was missed, so the final score was Giants 14-34 Salford.

The second clash between the two sides six weeks ago painted a better picture for ourselves. Giants scored seven tries in Greater Manchester.

The evening didn’t start well for the Giants. The Red Devils opened the scoring in the 3rd minute, Tyrone McCarthy powered his way over from close range. They extended their lead in the 15th minute. Tui Lolohea throwing a cut-out pass to the left wing and Ken Sio strolled in to increase the Red Devils lead. Both conversions were missed, so the Giants remained 8-0 down. We then responded just before the half-hour mark. Matty English ran hard close to the line after a Kruise Leeming pass and he forced his way over, the try was given by the video referee. Lee Gaskell converted the try to make it 8-6. Five minutes before the break, we did take the lead. Innes Senior touching down in the corner after the Giants throw the ball from right to left, finishing well under pressure on the left-hand side.

We began the second half where we left off in the first. Three minutes into it, Tom Holmes kicked high on the last, on the right hand-side, Darnell McIntosh then leaped higher than everyone else to win the ball, before touching down to increase our lead. The missed conversion meant the score remained 14-8. The Red Devils hit back six minutes later. Miscommunication at the back between the Giants results in Kris Welham touching the ball down. Once again, the conversion was missed, so the Giants remained in front at 14-12. Leeming then gave us some breathing space as we approached the hour mark, chasing up his own kick to score. The conversion was missed, so it remained a six-point game at 18-12. Ukuma Ta’ai then added a fourth fifth try of the evening for the Giants, he spun away from a few tackles to touch down. McIntosh’s conversion gave us a 24-12 lead with less than twenty minutes left. Ten minutes from time, we added another. We decided to run it on the last and Jake Wardle stretched to put the ball over the line on the left-hand side. McIntosh added another conversion to make it 30-12. Six minutes from time, the Red Devils grabbed a consolation try. McCarthy grabbing his second after pushing his way over from close range. Sio added the conversion to make it 30-18. We added our seventh, and final, try of the game in the final minute. Lee Gaskell made a break, before offloading to McIntosh and he strolled over the line to get his second of the game. He converted his own try, as we won the game 36-18 at the AJ Bell Stadium.

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