Five times Salford Red Devils defied the Super League odds in recent memory

Ben Olawumi
Sam Stone try v Warrington Wolves, Deon Cross celebrates after try v St Helens, Jackson Hastings celebrates after play-off semi-final win v Wigan Warriors

Defying the odds is just what Salford Red Devils do - Alamy

Salford Red Devils’ ability to upset the applecart is a thing of beauty, and given the shoestring budget – compared to others – they do it on, it’s all the more appetising as an underdog story.

The Red Devils don’t mind having to play up to that tag by any means, and last night disrupted the status quo oncemore with their win at St Helens, a first away triumph against the Red V for 44 years.

‘Doing it tough’ is pretty much the Salford way, and they had to do so again. Even with a man less following Mark Percival’s sending off, the hosts ran in a try which took the scoreline out to 20-6.

To score 18 unanswered points away against St Helens in as many minutes, yeah, we’d say that’s defying the odds.

And that win last night got us casting our minds back, so here are five (other) times that Salford have defied the Super League odds in recent memory!

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Five times Salford Red Devils defied the Super League odds in recent memory

2023 – Golden Point drama

Sam Stone try
Sam Stone dives over for the winning try in golden point extra time against Warrington Wolves – Alamy

Back in September, Paul Rowley’s side hosted Warrington in Round 25 of the campaign knowing that a defeat would have – more or less – put an end to their play-off hopes, ‘do or die’ territory.

Shown live on Channel 4, in a game which swung both ways countless times, Marc Sneyd’s boot levelled things up at 20-20 with four minutes remaining via a penalty and that’s how it remained come the final hooter to take it into golden point.

Now, in golden point, we usually just see drop goal efforts. Sneyd tried his luck and hit the sticks. Try again? No, not off-the-cuff Salford. The next chance they got, they shifted the ball out to the left and broke, with Sam Stone eventually crossing for a try to win it – 24-20 the final score. Incredible stuff.

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2022 – Extraordinary success in the south of France

Given the force that Catalans Dragons have become in recent years, it’s a rarity to see a side come away from Perpignan with a win, let alone one which sees them rack up a 40+ points tally, but that’s exactly what Salford did in 2022.

Tom Davies scored the opening and closing tries in the first half at the Stade Gilbert Brutus, but in-between those, Rowley’s men ran in three unanswered efforts of their own, and 18-8 to the good at the break, they were relentless come the restart.

Kallum Watkins, Ken Sio, Chris Atkin & Ryan Brierley all grabbed tries before Catalans could muster a response, with Deon Cross putting the icing on the cake late on, 46-14 the final score. No side since that sunny August day has put that many points on the Dragons in Perpignan. An away day to remember against one of Super League’s big boys.

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2022 – Giant killers

Andy Ackers
Andy Ackers celebrates his try in Salford Red Devils’ play-off win against Huddersfield Giants – Alamy

Forgive us for the non-chronological order, but we didn’t want to spoil the surprise! Of course, that 2022 season – Rowley’s first in charge – saw Salford reach the Super League play-offs for just the third time, and the first since their run to the Grand Final in 2019.

Ultimately, 2022 would end in a semi-final defeat to St Helens, but the game they won to set that tie up – away against Huddersfield Giants – was a thing of beauty, truly defying the odds with a 28-0 triumph. Again in front of the Channel 4 cameras, the Red Devils ran riot having just snuck into the play-offs.

They were up against a Huddersfield side who had ended the year 3rd and got to the Challenge Cup final. Oh, and the opposing head coach – Ian Watson – had left Salford for the Giants. Revenge is a dish best served cold, so they say. If so, then this performance from the Red Devils was absolutely freezing.

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2021 – ‘We only need 12 men!’

The year before, in what was Watson’s first reunion with his former club, Salford pulled another rabbit out of the hat. On the face of it, a win at Huddersfield isn’t necessarily ‘odds defying’, but when you consider what happened in the game itself, we think it certainly is.

With Richard Marshall then at the helm, the Red Devils went 6-0 up at the John Smith’s Stadium early on courtesy of Andy Ackers’ try, but then saw James Greenwood sent off just after the half-hour mark for a high shot on Adam O’Brien, despite Dan Sarginson appearing to be the perpetrator.

Over 45 minutes remained, but the Red Devils ground it out a man down, showing the scramble in defence we’ve now become accustomed to. Dec Patton’s penalty late on in the first half made it 8-2 at the break, and after the hosts had levelled things up in the second half, Chris Atkin kicked the winning drop goal with circa 13 minutes remaining. Drama at its finest.

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2019 – THAT night in Wigan

Jackson Hastings
Jackson Hastings celebrates with the Salford fans after their play-off win at Wigan Warriors – Alamy

We’ve saved the best until last, and quite honestly we can’t believe it’s five years this time around since Salford’s Grand Final appearance. Saints spoiled the party at Old Trafford, but the Red Devils’ semi-final win at Wigan is a night that will live long in the memory.

Then under Watson, Salford had enjoyed a tremendous year, ending up 3rd on the ladder behind only Saints – who were runaway leaders – and Wigan, who had finished two points above them. With the way the play-offs worked back then, the pair actually squared off two weeks prior to the semi, and the Warriors were victorious.

Salford then had to beat Castleford to keep their hopes alive, while Wigan were beaten by Saints and would have to beat the Red Devils (again) to set up a Grand Final against their bitter rivals at Old Trafford.

But, a fortnight after that first meeting between Watson’s side and the Cherry & Whites, it would be Salford who had the last laugh and then some. Inspired by Man of Steel Jackson Hastings, they were 28-4 winners at the DW Stadium. Gil Dudson, Joey Lussick and Lee Mossop were the try-scorers that night, with Krisnan Inu kicking a whopping eight goals. Stunning.

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