David Clegg Meets With Assistant Coach, Willie Poching, To Review The Easter Weekend And Look Ahead To The Challenge Cup Tie With Toronto
It needs only a cursory glance at the circumstances and context surrounding the trip down to the South of France, for anyone to appreciate the significant difficulties, under which the Salford Red Devils were operating, with a mere two day turnaround, against a home team with twice that amount of time, the cancellation of their preferred, outward flight, and injuries sustained both before, and during, the game.
Not that this cuts any ice with Assistant Coach, Willie Poching, who believes the responsibility for the subsequent defeat lies much closer to home.
“You could come up with a whole host of excuses as to why we lost, but we are not going to use any of them,” he counters. “We just couldn’t quite find the energy that was needed to turn the game around, while, unfortunately for us, the Dragons did.
“The scoreboard had some influence on how the game developed, because, when they got an early lead, it gave them the confidence and motivation to keep on going. When Justin Carney scored that breakaway try, though, it could have given us that same impetus, but we just made too many errors, and missed too many tackles, in the end.”
Some of the reason for this probably lay in the Good Friday fixture, which was a particularly intense encounter.
“Our players certainly put their bodies on the line, that afternoon, because it was more physical than anything else,” Willie agrees. “Josh Jones, Lama Tasi, Craig Kopczak all gave it their all, and the scoreline shows just what a tough old match it was. Full credit to Leigh, they came and gave us everything they had, and they just never stopped coming at us.
“It could be used by some as an excuse for the Catalans game, but we knew what we were up against beforehand, over the whole Easter weekend. You can’t go holding off against one game in order to save yourself for the second.”
So it was something of a mixture, looking at the weekend as a whole.
“You’d always like to get the full four points, but that is always difficult, and in all the time I have been over here, there haven’t been many times we’ve managed it,” he recalls.
Five weeks from now, we shall be repeating the whole episode again, when we host the Dragons on the Friday evening, before travelling to Warrington on the Bank Holiday Monday, and Willie insists that they have learned a lot, over Easter, which will stand them in good stead for this.
“It will again be a case of how we come out of the first of those fixtures, against Catalans, and how we are able back it up on the Monday. At least, the flight to Warrington is a bit shorter,” he wryly comments.
Before then, though, there will have been two Challenge Cup Rounds. Undoubtedly, Sunday’s tie against Toronto, is by far the most exciting of the draws we could have had, at this stage in the competition, when one considers the history that could well be being made by it.
“Toronto are certainly carrying all before them,” Willie reflects, “and not just against teams in their own division, because they beat London Broncos, from the league above them, 30-26, in one of the earlier rounds.
“We shall be fully aware of the threat they pose, particularly under the coaching of Paul Rowley. They play in a very similar way to the way that Leigh played, under his leadership . They are a team that likes to throw the ball around, and express themselves – in a good way, I feel – and we have to try and be even better with what we have.”
One advantage the visiting Wolfpack will have is, very similarly to Catalans, a much longer turnaround from their previous outing, having had to play only one fixture over Easter.
Willie concurs, and adds, “Not only that, they have a big squad, with experience within it, so even if they had had to have backed up on Monday, they would have had enough strength in depth to have coped with it. They even have some players who have only been there a couple of weeks, in Sean Penkywicz and Ryan Brierley, so they will be pretty fresh, too.”
In comparison, the Red Devils not only had the extra game on Easter Monday, they also lost a day’s preparation in making the journey home.
“We just had to do a different type of work on the Tuesday before we travelled,” we are informed, “but our players are professionals and they understand what they need to do. Even when we are not training together, it is not a day off, as such, as they are all working independently from each other. That is how we have got ourselves in the position we are now, and that is what needs to continue.”
Referee – Mr J Smith
Touch Judges – G Jones, M Griffiths
In-Goal Judges – T Owen, M Butterfield
Reserve Ref – G Melling
19 MAN SQUAD