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Two Super League clubs draw impressive crowds in pre-season friendlies

Hull FC fans

On Sunday, two Super League clubs recorded impressive attendances despite the fact they were only playing in friendlies.

As Leeds Rhinos celebrated the testimonial of James Donaldson against his former club Hull KR, the Rhinos welcomed an impressive crowd of nearly 5,000 to the newly named AMT Headingley.

Admittedly, this wasn’t on the level of the crowd which attended their last friendly at home against Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day which was truly impressive but is still a sight to behold for a friendly.

Likewise, the crowd at St Helens was an impressed 4,058 despite the fact it was again a friendly. But the biggest crowd of the weekend went to Warrington Wolves who had nearly 7,000 in attendance against Leigh Leopards for Joe Philbin’s testimonial.

Meanwhile, in the 1895 Cup Wakefield Trinity took a record number of away fans to York.

Super League title challengers lay down marker

St Helens vs Salford Red Devils in Super League

Picture by Olly Hassell/ – 13/05/2023 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League Round 12 – St Helens v Salford Red Devils – The Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens, England – Salford’s Ryan Brierley in conversation with St Helens’ James Bell

Former Champions St Helens laid down a marker against Salford. Saints took an early lead six minutes in. A Salford error gave the hosts the ball ten metres from the Red Devils line. Debutant, Daryl Clark tried to feed Curtis Sironen, the ball found the ground but Jack Welsby won the race to the loose ball to open the scoring. Tommy Makinson converted, 6-0.

The visitors were then reduced to twelve men for ten minutes. George Delaney threw an offload and was hit late by King Vuniyaywa, the referee instantly producing the yellow card.

The lead was extended shortly after. Salford pressed forward but their kick on the last was blocked and claimed by Joe Batchelor, he found Daryl Clark on his inside and he was able to break away from well within his own half, before sending Chris Hankinson to Tesco and scored underneath the sticks. Makinson converted, 12-0.

From the restart, Saints grabbed another. Delaney broke through the Salford line and found support on his inside in the form of Welsby, he was able to dummy past a Salford defender before sliding over to the left of the sticks. Makinson added another two points, 18-0.

Saints fourth came on the half-hour mark. A Salford knock on gave the Red V a repeat set on the visitors’ line. A few tackles in, Saints shifted it from left to right and new skipper Jonny Lomax threw a great cut-out pass to Makinson who strolled over in the corner. He was unable to convert from the touchline, 22-0.

Moses Mbye then attempted a low kick which ricocheted around, before the loose ball was pounced on by Joe Batchelor, and he had the simple task of grounding it under the sticks. Makinson converted, 28-0.

Salford grabbed the first try of the second half against a heavily rotated Saints outfit. Tim Lafai broke away down the left wing after the visitors kept the ball alive, he fed former Saint Matty Foster on his outside and he scored in the corner. Marc Sneyd converted, 28-6.

Saints replied 13 minutes into the second half. A ‘six again’ for a flop allowed Saints to move downfield. The ball was moved about and Moses Mbye found Whitley who breezed through a gap to score in the corner. George Whitby converted, 34-6.

Then from a scrum, Saints went right and Dayon Sambou was able to break through down Saints’ right edge and raced away from well within his own half to score in the corner. Whitby nailed the conversion from the right touchline, 40-6.

Try number eight came four minutes later. Saints worked it well down the left-hand side and Ben Davies found Jonny Vaughan won the race to the corner. Whitby converted, 46-6.

Saints would go on to wrap things up at 52-10.

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