Assistant Coach, Martin Gleeson, Previews, Alongside David Clegg, The Final Game Of the Regular Season, At Leigh
Such is the nature of sport, that familiarity and close proximity, which are the essential ingredients of a derby match, never fail to motivate even the least fancied of sides, when faced with their more successful neighbours. On those occasions, the form book goes out of the window, and league placings reflect only the recent history of the two combatants, facts well understood by Salford Assistant Coach, Martin Gleeson.
“Over the past few years we have had some real ding-dongs with Leigh, even in cup games, when they were in the Championship,” he reminds us, “so we know what it is going to be like, tomorrow, and we know what to expect.
“Nevertheless, we are looking forward to it, because we want to finish off our season on a high.”
With league placings now so tight, in the positions from third to fifth, this match could, in its own way, prove to be as important as the following week’s semi-final, against Wigan.
“If anything, it is more important at this moment in time, because it’s the next game we play, and it also rounds off all that we have put in and been working towards during the season itself,” Martin argues. “Everything now is in our hands, and we are going to Leigh to ensure that that remains the case, by finishing well placed in the top four.”
And that top four finish is extremely important bringing with it, as it does, a fourth home fixture in the Super 8s, which, being out of a total of seven, would really tilt the balance in our favour.
“With three teams, Hull, Wakefield and Castleford, on the far side of Yorkshire, having qualified, we wouldn’t want to be having to face too many trips away from home. Far better to let them have to come over to us, and no matter who that fourth team happens to be, we would much sooner be playing them at home,” he concludes.
With that semi-final little more than a week away, one has to wonder whether that might start to play on players’ minds, something that would be of concern to all the coaches.
“I hope not, because this is not a nothing game, where the result is irrelevant,” Martin maintains. “There are one or two of those around this weekend, but ours isn’t one of them; we’ve got everything to play for.
“Nor is it nothing game for Leigh, either, because they will be wanting to do well before going into the Qualifiers, so we will have to be on song to combat them.
“Players are people, though, and things can affect them, so it is up to us, the coaches, to try and keep them focused on the task, tomorrow.”
Referee – Mr J Smith
Touch Judges – P Marklove, P Brooke
In Goal Judges –S Houghton, G Melling
Reserve Referee – J Barr
19 MAN SQUAD