Assistant Coach, Martin Gleeson, Alongside David Clegg, Assesses The Red Devils’ Encounter With Widnes, And Looks Ahead To The Wigan Game
Despite currently residing at the foot of Super League, the visiting Vikings, as expected, provided a much stiffer opposition in last Sunday’s return fixture between the two sides, than they had in the away match, at the Stobart Security Stadium, and the fact that the Red Devils eventually successfully completed their first ‘double’ of the season, in some comfort, was of credit to them, as Assistant Coach, Martin Gleeson concurs.
“We knew that Widnes would mount a strong challenge on us after that earlier fixture,” he reports “as we knew that they would be keen to make amends for how big that scoreline against them was. The fact that they were backing up after an impressive win over St Helens made them all the more dangerous, whilst we had seven of our first choice players missing.
“Overall, though, we were really pleased with the result, and the way we got through the game.”
One of the really big positives from the Salford perspective must surely have been the performances of the players who came in as replacements, because all of them showed up really well, as exemplified by Jake Bibby, who carried the ball forward really strongly, took all the kicks to him, defended effectively, and capped it all by scoring a try!
“Jake was outstanding,” Martin agrees, “as were Ryan Lannon, and Dan Murray who was making his Super League debut. We also had to deal with a number of players sustaining knocks during the match. A couple of these were head injuries, which has happened a few times this season, but each time the lads have just dug in, and carried us through it.”
Because of all this, the performance was not that of Salford at their thrilling best, but it was still good enough to give a convincing look to the scoreboard, by the final whistle.
“The attack was just ok, but the defence was good for most of the game, though it did drop off a couple of times in the second half,” is his assessment. “We lost our concentration for their first try, as we were expecting a kick on the last tackle, but instead the ball went out to the short side, and they caught us out,”
One thing that was noticeable about how the game unfolded was the way in which Salford dominated the second part of each half. In the first half this coincided with the injection of the bench players into the fray.
“Widnes couldn’t keep going at that pace, because of the work we had made them do already,” he explains. “It was the result of the consistent pressure we had put them under, which ground them down, so when we picked up the pace a bit they couldn’t handle it, and they ended up with over forty missed tackles, compare with our fifteen.”
So, could it possibly be, could we dare hope, that, we could even be going to Wigan, confident of getting that illusive, first-ever win, at the DW Stadium?
“We are always confident of winning, whoever we are playing,” Martin counters, “and we don’t look at issues such as first ever wins. It was our first ever Super League win at Hull, a few weeks ago, but we never considered it as such.
“We have been assessing how the lads have come out of the Widnes game, and judging their availability. We shall be travelling to Wigan, with a game plan which will make us confident of challenging them.”
With the Warriors’ recent dip in form, they will also be travelling to the DW, whilst occupying a higher league position than the Warriors, which will, in itself, be a first. Not that that is anything of an issue as far as Martin is concerned.
“We are only half way through the regular season, with a long way still to go, and much can happen yet,” he insists. “We are mindful of the fact that two points will keep us up the ladder, and help us get to where we want to be, at the end of the year.”
Much as we all expected an improved league position from last season, I would suspect that there are more than just one or two of us who have been surprised that Salford have established themselves in the top four at this, the half way mark. Not that this group includes the coaching staff.
“We always knew we were capable of this, because of the people we had brought in,” Martin maintains. “We had to address certain aspects of our game which we were weak in, so, in the light of that, we are not particularly surprised, though there is still a long way to go.”
One thing we are in full agreement on, however, is that even tougher times lie ahead, with visits to some quite daunting clubs, who might be struggling, at the moment, but who are capable of turning things around in an inkling.
“Everyone is going to be gunning for us, and teams will be out to prove their point when they come to the A J Bell,” he warns.
Referee – Mr C Campbell
Touch Judge – S Kirkpatrick, P Graham
In-Goal – P Cromer, J Page
Reserve Ref – M Griffiths
19 MAN SQUAD