Koukash unhappy at Cup exit

Salford owner Marwan Koukash hinted that he is running out of patience after watching his side crash out of the Tetley's Challenge Cup.

The millionaire racehorse owner once more turned to Twitter to vent his frustration after the Red Devils went down 30-20 at home to Widnes in a fifth-round tie at the AJ Bell Stadium.

"I have done all I can to bring success to Salford," Koukash said. "The players NEED to respect the shirt they wear."

Koukash, who set his expensively re-built side the target of a top-four finish this year, sacked Brian Noble after Salford won just three of their opening seven Super League matches but they have now lost three in a row under his successor Iestyn Harris.

The Red Devils trailed 24-8 until setting up an exciting finish with two converted tries in three minutes but Harris admitted the visitors deserved the spoils.

"I thought we got exactly what we deserved if I'm honest," Harris said. "Rugby league is about attitude and I'd say, certainly in the first half, they wanted it more than us.

"It's difficult to take and it's concerning. We'll look at the reasons and fix it up. We're leaning day on day here at the moment."

Scrum-half Danny Craven made the most of his last-minute call-up by steering Widnes into the last eight.

The 22-year-old was drafted in for his fifth appearance of the season when Grant Gore tweaked a hamstring in the warm-up and he went on to play a key role as they dominated the first hour, with full-back Rhys Hanbury scoring two tries and others coming from Kevin Brown and Danny Galea.


Prop Lami Tasi gave Salford a lifeline with his first try for the club and, when Gareth Hock scored his second of the match two minutes later, the home crowd sensed an unlikely victory.

However, Vikings substitute Lloyd White pounced on a Salford handling error to make the game safe in the final minute and give his side a deserved place in Monday's draw.

"I know the scoreline says it was close but I don't think it was," Widnes coach Denis Betts said.

"We were the best team by a million miles but we made a couple of errors and they came back. They've a lot of quality in their side but I thought we dominated the game from start to finish.

"We had to shuffle the team around. Danny Craven has not really trained that much but he was fitter than Grant Gore was after the warm-up."

Betts admitted fatigue was a factor in his side's late lapse and criticised the decision to stage the Challenge Cup fifth round straight after the hectic Super League schedule.

"Whoever decided to play this round after Easter wants shooting really," Betts said. "It's fatigue that causes injuries. Players haven't enough time to get ready to play a game like that. It's just too hard.

"This is going to have a knock-on effect for us and the other teams that won through for the next three or four weeks."