Sunday’s fixture against the current Super League champions, finds both teams confounding the pundits, with Salford having spent the whole of the first quarter of the season firmly ensconced in the top four, while the Warriors languish close to the foot of the table with only one win to their credit. Whether this will still be the situation come the final whistle of Sunday’s match is something fans on both sides are keenly awaiting, as, indeed, is Head Coach, Ian Watson.
Our Pre-Season Friendly
Although it was several weeks ago that we played Wigan here in that pre-season friendly, there are always little traits in the way teams perform in those sorts of matches that are indicative as to their approach to games for the coming season. It comes from individual players more than anything.
We were really pleased with what we got out of that game, even though we lost, because our middles did a really good stint in the first half and there were a number of little things for us to pick out of Wigan’s performance, that day. We know, for example that George Williams poses an attacking threat, and that they will be putting the pump on our right edge defence, which they did in that game. They’ve done that quite successfully in recent years, so we’ve looked at that this week in training.
A Yard-sitck By Which To Measure Our Progress
Having seen how we fared up against them back in January this will be a good chance to see how well our own progress as been over the intervening weeks.
It would appear that Wigan have a number of players, such as Ben Flower, Joe Burgess, and Dom Manfredi, returning after injury, on Sunday, but that is fine because we really want to be playing against the best players to test ourselves. We are looking forward to the fact that these people will be lining up to face us.
Our Home Fixture v Leeds
We are expecting Wigan to be coming to us fighting for the points, just as Leeds did when they visited us in Round 10, and it all came crashing down on us. The big factor in that game was the presence of Stevie Ward, who was outstanding on the day. He did a great job against us defensively on their right edge, and he gave them something different on attack, , but he’s been missing for them since then.
We’ve learned from that game, though. It’s the only match when we have been seriously off our game. Recent matches against Saints and Castleford have also taught us a number of things, which we are aiming to build upon.
Recent Away Matches
At Catalans we produced a very good team performance. We had detailed areas of responsibility for certain aspects of the game, which worked very well. Rob Lui, who was quite outstanding that day, and the right edge, dealt extremely well with Kenny Edwards, for example, to the extent that Edwards was rather less effective than usual. Our tries, either side of half time, killed them off.
We were absolutely on top of the detail in our game plan, and we opened them up quite easily with the way we moved the ball, but then the following week Castleford were a tougher team to crack, as they always are at home, and there was possibly a residual confidence from the week before.
This showed in the fact that we started to play too early in the game, so, even though we picked it up again later in the game, we fell away in that early period. We were also a bit short on some of our detail. This week we have to return to how we have been starting in other matches, and get both aspects of our game absolutely right.
The Two Adams
Adam Lawton made his first appearance for us at Catalans, and at the time he came on we were being put under a lot of pressure, because Catalans had a considerable amount of ball through repeat sets. So for him to come on to face that immediately was a real test, both for his fitness and mentality levels, but he stood up really well. There are just one or two things we need to fix defensively, but the best way to improve is to play.
Adam Walker was really dangerous with the ball last week, in his first match at Castleford, though defensively there are one or two things he will have to fix up. He will be playing against Wigan, on Sunday, and we will be looking to see these in his game.
If both of them play it will be good to have two such large presences out there for us.