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17 January 2018

Stuart Littler was happy with his team’s first outing of the season against a full strength Reds side on a freezing cold afternoon.

Hayden Hansen

Salford Reds 50-12 Swinton Lions

Stuart Littler was happy with his team’s first outing of the season against a full strength Reds side on a freezing cold afternoon. Matt Sarsfield felt a twinge in the warm up and started the game from the bench, despite being chosen in the original starting lineup and his place was taken by debutant Hayden Hansen.

The Lions, wearing their heritage kit for the first time, made a bright start with some good handling skills on show, but it was the home side who took the lead when Greg Johnson scored in the right corner in the tenth minute with O’Brien converting from the touchline. They ran in two more tries midway through the first half with Tyrone McCarthy and Kris Welham both going over and O’Brien converted one of them.

Swinton only had five substitutes to play with as opposed to Salford, who had fourteen on the bench, so there were lots of changes for the Lions in the first half. The Reds capitalised on the fresher bench as they went further ahead when Niall Evalds scored by the posts after some good build up play. O’Brien added the conversion points.

The Lions hit back six minutes from the break when Conor Taylor and Omer Djalout set up a good position for Hayden Hansen to dart over from acting half back for the try, Chris Hankinson safely converting his first attempt from the tee. Swinton almost added another before the break with a chance in the final seconds of the first half, but Marcus Webb could not collect a wild Reds pass and knocked on as the half time hooter sounded.

O’Brien opened the Reds’ account just after the restart with a try by the posts which he converted and then the Lions had a chance down the left but the final pass went forward. Derrell Olpherts added the next try for the home side following a Jake Bibby break and again it was converted. The Lions continued to push for another score when Mike Butt broke away, but a good tackle by O’Brien stopped the danger.

Chris Hankinson

Olpherts then added his second when there was a big overlap on the right, but this went unconverted. The Lions then got on the scoreboard for the second time when Hankinson crashed between Junior Sau and Jack Littlejohn to score on the right and he again made no mistake with the conversion.

The home side finished strongly with two tries in the last two minutes to flatter the score when Robert Lui and Gavin Bennion both scored and O’Brien converted both before the final hooter sounded.

Ian Rigg reporting from the AJ Bell Stadium.

Match Stats

Lions: Fell, Webb, Hankinson, Tyson, Butt, Ansell, J Hansen, Bracek, Waterworth, Austin, Lloyd, H.Hansen, Worrall. Subs-: Sarsfield, Djalout, Hall, Taylor, Caine.

Tries: H.Hansen (34), Hankinson (72) Goals: Hankinson 2/2

Salford Red Devils: Evalds, Bibby, Sau, Welham, Johnson, Littlejohn, O’Brien, Hauraki, Wood, Tasi, Mossop, Jones, McCarthy. Subs-: Lui, Kopczak, Tomkins, Griffin, Flannagan, Lannon, Burgess, Nakubuwai, Brinning, Vatuvei, Olpherts, Nzoungou, Murray, Bennion.

Tries: Johnson (10), McCarthy (17), Welham (21), Evalds (27), O’Brien (43), Olpherts (51,65), Lui (78), Bennion (80) Goals: O’Brien 7/9

Referee: Marcus Griffiths Pens: 6-7 Attendance: 2036 H-T: 22-6

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