With both teams coming to Sunday’s encounter on the back of disappointing defeats in Round 9, there is much to prove for each of them, and equally so, much to play for, in this week’s contest against Hull FC, at the A J Bell Stadium. Our loss at the Mobile Rocket Stadium, Wakefield, has seen us lose ground in the league table, although we are still holding onto top five spot.
As for Hull, they had an extremely difficult home game, last week, with Warrington – the one team left for Salford to come up against this season, which they will do in Round 11, on Good Friday. With that so much else coming up in the next few weeks, Head Coach, Ian Watson, takes a circumspective view of it all.
On Visitors, Hull
Just as happened when we played Wigan, a couple of weeks ago, Hull have a number of players coming back to face us, on Sunday, but to a certain extent, the fact that clubs endeavour to put out their best team available against us in is a mark of respect to our players. There are certain fixtures where coaches will rest key players to save them for future games, but that appears to be no longer the case as far as visits to Salford are concerned. Other teams now know that we do compete, and that we will compete hard.
Hull had a few problems last week, as the scoreboard shows, but that simply means that they will be all the more determined to put it behind them and rectify the situation. We know that they are going to come out strongly from the outset, so we have to ensure that we start well and sustain it throughout the game.
On Our Recent Form
This early part of the season has always been about building our foundations, settling in together, and hopefully getting wins along the way, particularly later on in the season, but we have competed strongly in almost all our matches so far. Last week, our performance was really good in certain areas, but we have just fallen off in a few little areas, recently. Nevertheless, we are not far off, and this weekend’s game is an opportunity to improve in these.
Conceding dumb penalties is an absolute killer, because it gives away both possession and position on the field. Conceding them on the fourth and fifth tackle is even more problematic because you are then having to defend another entire set, having already expended much of your energy in the previous set.
Having pulled back to 6-6, last week, we then went, for going on ten minutes, without even touching the ball, as a result of penalties. George Griffin ended up making forty-five tackles, most of which were in the first half, whilst his opposite number was called upon to make only eighteen.
We need to be smarter as a team with this, but one problem is that with all the defending you have to do at such times, fatigue sets in and techniques suffer, which then leads to further penalties. This is precisely what happened in the first half, at Wakefield. Once we started to get a fairer share of possession, in the second half, we did a whole lot better and closed the gap on Trinity.
On Greg Burke
It is worth noting that this little dip in form has coincided with the absence, through injury, of prop, Greg Burke, which is no surprise because he does such a lot of work which goes unnoticed. He is never one to cut a corner, always turns up in the areas he is expected, and always works really hard for the team. He always endeavours, for example, to put pressure on the opposition’s kicker, which then limits the effectiveness of their kicking game.
It does, however, take a lot of determination and grit to keep doing that sort of thing, throughout the whole of the time he is on, but you really do need players like him in your team, because the hidden work they do is actually the most important of the game.
On The Fans
Our fans are absolutely great and have given us so much encouragement and support in all our matches, but, just like the players, when we hit those sticky patches in a game, we all go into our shell a little bit. These though are the times when the players, even more so, really need our fans to up the ante, raise the volume and lift the players’ spirits so that they can pull themselves out of the difficult spot.
Negative defending of our own goal-line is not particularly inspiring to any spectator, but that is a time when the players need that encouragement all the more. It really pushes them on to hold out, despite the drain on their energy levels. We try to look on those occasions as a challenge, but our fans can certainly help us in this.