David Clegg Meets Up With Assistant Coach Martin Gleeson For The First Of Our Bank Holiday Fixtures
In similar vein to their Good Friday encounter at the A J Bell Stadium, Salford Red Devils proceeded to grind out a win against near neighbours, Leigh, in which the Centurions, struggling in the lower reaches of the table, battled throughout, and made life as hard as they possibly could for their higher flying opponents.
“That was really tough,” concedes Assistant Coach, Martin Gleeson, when we met up shortly after our Magic Weekend 36-22 victory. “We were not at our best, and a bit lacking in one or two areas. Nevertheless it takes guts and dedication to come up with a win when you are not playing well.
“All credit to Leigh, though, because it was touch and go, at one point.”
Although the Salford defence appeared in control of the situation, for most of the time, there were, a couple of times when it appeared a little fragile, as evidenced by the number of points they conceded.
“It’s not been like that, all season, but it just wasn’t fully up to scratch, this time out,” he acknowledges. “It certainly wasn’t the occasion having got to us at all, it’s just that, for whatever reason, we were not at our best. Compared with how we have been over the last few months, we were that bit below par.
“That is not necessarily a bad thing, because we still got the win, whilst it will impress upon the players the need to bring things back up to speed, especially with some crucial games coming up.”
The really tell-tale sign that they might have been a little out of sorts, was their failure to totally dominate, when Leigh were reduced to twelve men, in the second half. The sending-off of a player always has a significant impact on the remainder of the match, often in a quite unpredictable way, with one or other of the teams either dropping off in intensity, or making a marked improvement. Leigh actually did dig deep, and made that improvement.
“It was like us, a few weeks ago in the Toronto game,” agrees Martin. “We got better, ourselves, when we went down to twelve men, and Leigh did the same. When faced with a team of twelve, you can’t take it for granted that you are going to win. You still need to do all the intricate detail within your game correctly, and efficiently.
“Although we scored immediately after the sending off, Leigh quickly responded with a try of their own, and kept applying pressure; we weren’t impregnable by any means. Getting the two league points was the main thing though, and hopefully we will get over our own issues, in time for Friday.”
It will undoubtedly be etched in all our minds that Catalans are the only team to have won against us in our last eleven outings, so one might expect that our players will be eager to administer some reprisals in respect of that, and put right the things that let us down, there.
“That last time was the second of our two Easter fixtures, and involved that particularly arduous journey,” He recalls. “We also picked up a few injuries, and ended up with players helping out in all sorts of unaccustomed positions.
“As a result we were well off the pace that day, and owe them one now, in return.”
The dismissal of the Dragons’ Head Coach, Laurent Frayssinous, following their defeat at the hands of Huddersfield, will, in itself, bring some impact upon Friday night’s game, as it is invariably the case that teams in those circumstances galvanise as a group, and bounce back with a considerably improved performance.
“Our job just got decidedly tougher,” claims Martin. “It sends a shock wave through their whole squad, and it makes them believe that they have let the coach down, so they all try to buckle down to get everything right, in their next game. We will be find them at their best, but we are looking to continue our winning run, and are after those two points to help pull us further up the ladder, while pushing them down.”
With an extremely gruelling part of the season ahead, including the double header, this weekend, the players have had a couple of days off to aid their recovery from the bruising encounter at Newcastle, and restore the energy levels to cope with all the challenges ahead.
“We need to be a bit dogged now in our determination, show fortitude and assertiveness, and have an unshakable confidence in ourselves and what we want to achieve,” he insists. “This will require us to show real steel in certain situations, and to be completely ruthless, throughout.
“There is still a long way to go, but we are accruing valuable points, and if we go into our next games believing they are winnable, we will win them, which would show a significant shift in both our attitude and confidence.”
Referee – Mr R Hicks
Touch Judges – C Sharrod, G Jones
In-Goal Judges – P Marklove, J Barr
Reserve Ref – W Turley
Assistant Coach, Willie Poching Will Preview Our Bank Holiday Monday Fixture At Warrington, Over The Weekend