Johnson stars as Salford down Rochdale

Salford have won their first game of 2017, defeating Rochdale 44-18 in a friendly at Spotland Stadium.

Winher Greg Johnson grabbed three tries for the visitors on a cold afternoon.

Both sides fielded strong teams for their first matches of the year, with Rob Lui, Justin Carney, Weller Hauraki, Josh Jones and Michael Dobson all starting for the Red Devils.

Chris Riley, Lewis Galbraith, Samir Tahraoui and Danny Yates were all in the starting XIII for the Hornets.

It was not a great start for the Super League outfit with Ben Murdoch Masila injured in the first few minutes.

But the Red Devils struck first, an easy try for Gareth O’Brien. He dummied and slid over, converting his own try to make it 6-0..

Josh Jones then got the second try, he was too big and too strong near the line.

On the back of three penalties in a row Salford had a 12-0 lead but then Rochdale started to come into the match.

After a huge hit on Gareth O’Brien Ben Moores scooped up the ball and scored. Lewis Palfrey converted and O’Brien was carried from the field with a heavy concussion.

Soon after Salford then lost Jordan Walne, who was brought off after a head knock.

In a better spell for the Hornets, they looked to have levelled the scores up but the try was chalked off for a forward pass.

The Red Devils responded when Greg Johnson sneaked over on the right flank. Michael Dobson added the extras.

Next Rochdale sub Jo Taira was yellow-carded for a high tackle. Before half-time Junior Sa’u crashed through some brittle defence to make it 22-6.

Dobson converted and Salford took their 24-6 lead into the break.

In the second half Rochdale got back into it with a try under the sticks from Lewis Galbraith, which was then converted.

Soon after Taira dived on a grubber to make ammends for his earlier indiscretion, and the Hornets were just six points behind.

But Salford stemmed the bleeding when Kris Welham got his first try as a Red Devil, after joining from Bradford, to make it 28-18.

After the visitors forced a drop out, Taira was replaced after picking up an injury.

Johnson then got his second four-pointer of the afternoon, stepping past a handful of defenders to touch down.

Dobson converted to make it 34-18.

Salford were in control and Johnson notched his hat-trick, after an initial break from Sa’u.

Dobson added the two and there was still time for Jake Bibby to get on the score sheet for a final score of 44-18.

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