Salford Red Devils got the 2019 Betfred Super League off to a winning start and we caught up with Head Coach Ian Watson ahead of the sides first home game of the season against London Broncos.
On recent encounters with the Broncos…
Our recent history with London is not that great, as they have won the last two matches we had against them in the Qualifiers. In the first one, here, three seasons ago, Jamie Soward kicked us to death, and then Jarrod Sammut did exactly the same at their ground last year, but I know that we will be better this time, because we are a better side now than we were then.
It isn’t only Salford wo have fallen victim to them, though. Wakefield were caught out last weekend, but I think that result tells you more about London than it does about Wakefield. They have a smaller pack than the majority of clubs and so they are very quick across the ground, and of course at home they are always playing on a 4G pitch, so I, for one, was not surprised as to how competitive they were, even though I thought Wakefield would have won.
As far as our game is concerned, we know that they will come and try to grind us down and we are just going to have to muscle up to that. They also have this habit of coming from behind from a point at which turning the game around would appear to be a vain hope, but somehow, they seem to manage it
That happened, not only last week, but also in their first visit to Toronto in the Qualifiers, and it all goes to show the truly competitive nature of their players. I know quite a lot of their team, and know that they are people who just love playing the game to win and are never put off by the reputation of whichever team they happen to be up against. That makes them very difficult to play against.
On a winning start to the season…
It’s always good to get that first win, and although there were one or two things we could have improved upon, particularly the way we started, we did build our way into the game, and more of our systems started coming through.
From that point on we had the game under control, but in the first half we bombed a few chances because we weren’t clinical enough, and so errors prevented us from scoring.
Huddersfield, on the other hand started off really well, and in some respects should have come away with more than just the penalty goal they kicked, but credit to our lads for the way they defended and kept their line intact.
Even though it was the first game of the season, both teams had their injury problems but there were two really good, representative, sides out there last week, and we were good enough to come away with the points.
On the first home game of the season…
We took a really good away following to Huddersfield, so hopefully, on the back of that win, we will attract even more than might have turned up, otherwise. I thought our fans were absolutely outstanding. They made a considerable amount of noise – much louder than the home fans did.
This is going to be a really good benchmark for us, on Sunday. It will show me just how we compare with last season’s performance at London, as a group, and with mental steel. We will also be able to assess to what extent the players, who have come in, have added to us.
It would be great to get a packed house, because we do play an attractive brand of rugby, show physicality and determination in defence, and with the introduction of the shotclock, the game is taking a much more reasonable period of time than in recent seasons. We will endeavour to put on a great performance in order to attract them all back again the following week.