David Clegg Meets With Assistant Coach, Martin Gleeson, To Review Last Sunday’s Home Win, And Preview Friday’s Visit To Widnes
Beating Castleford, on their visits to both the Willows and the A J Bell Stadium, is not an unknown event, and indeed on the last occasion, in 2016, not only did we win here, 22-18, we did the double over them with a 16-32 away win. Our one and only defeat came in the away, 6th Round, Challenge Cup tie.
The one, big difference between previous, and last Sunday’s, encounter, however, was that on this latest occasion, the Tigers were riding high, undefeated, at the top of Super League. The significance of this will not have been lost on the coaching staff, for whom, Assistance Coach, Martin Gleeson, reflects upon the game.
“Cas have been playing really well, and been absolutely blitzing other teams,” he enthuses, “but we were confident in our own ability, because we have been winning matches ourselves. In fact, we were only a minute and a half away from winning two more, at Leeds and Wakefield, so without playing absolutely brilliantly ourselves, we knew we had been competing, and might have won more”
Looking back on the match in the comfort of knowing the final result, it seems that, despite being in arrears for the majority of the game, we, nevertheless, appeared to have Castleford under control for by far the majority of it.
“That was down to our defence,” he explains. “It was the best it has been since I’ve been here, and it won us that game. It is something that has let us down in the past, but we have been working hard on it for some time, and on Sunday it was good. And it had to be considering how Castleford have been playing.”
Not that everything was plain sailing, with an extremely awkward high kick bringing the opening try to put the visitors six points ahead.
“That’s the irony of it,” muses Martin, “because all their points came from our two errors, rather than from the high quality of their attacks, which is how they usually get their scores.”
Skipper, Michael Dobson’s decision to kick off, having won the toss, thereby allowing Castleford the option to have the elements behind them in the first half, was masterly, as conditions deteriorated far more than might have been expected, and, indeed, the visitors really looked to struggle in their endeavours to bring the ball away from their line.
“When you are out there you don’t think too much about it, but the weather can affect you with the handling of the ball in both the wind and the rain, and I think that it probably did with Castleford on Sunday,” agrees Martin, whom I suspect, will have had more than just a small involvement in the decision to kick off. “We really upped our intensity around them, and forced them into a few errors which payed dividends.
“It was our attitude in defence which won us the game, by forcing them into those difficult positions.”
So, having defeated the previously undefeated top of the league side, the players now have to turn their attention to an away encounter at the home of a side which has yet to win a game this season, Widnes.
“That is an aspect we are going to have to do something about,” he warns. “A couple of weeks ago we beat Warrington who were last season’s beaten Grand Finalists, only to go to Wakefield and lose by a couple of points. Having defeated top of the table Castleford, we need to back it up this week with a win at Widnes.
“In essence, this is more of an important game than the one last week. Having done all the right things at the right time then, we have to make sure we do that again this week. Widnes are not playing at all badly. It’s only small parts of their game they are slipping up in, and they will have targeted this match to get their season back on track. It will be a tough game, and that is what we are all expecting.
“They will have a couple of players coming back, which will give them an additional boost.”
The Vikings’ problems have stemmed around their halves, with the loss of Kevin Brown to Warrington, and injury to Joe Mellor.
“Losing your half backs can really affect teams, but Widnes have had a few games now with the present combination, and they’ll be really getting used to them at this stage,” is Martin’s up to date assessment. “There are no walkovers in Super League, these days.”
Whether the weather plays its part in assisting the outcome this fixture is rather more doubtful, as, with the 4G paying surface, it will not be overly affected by heavy rain, were there to be any.
“It will be a fast pitch, whatever,” he predicts. “There will be a lot of passing from both sides, because we are going there to play in that manner.”
It was not particularly long ago, that our visits there were brought to a speedy halt with a somewhat volcanic start from the home side leading to a rather fruitless case of catch-up football, but more recently the encounters have been much more evenly balanced, with an arm wrestle dominating not only the opening exchanges, but also for longer periods throughout the game.
“It is all down to us,” emphasises Martin. “We shall be playing on a nice firm pitch, on which the footwork should be good and balance should be no problem. We just have to go out with the right attitude and win the game.”
Referee – Mr C Kendall
Touch Judges – A Martin, G Jones
In Goal Judges – C Etchells, L MacDonald
Reserve – D Arnold
19 MAN SQUAD