U19s Head Coach, Garreth Carvell airs his views with David Clegg ahead of Thursday’s fixture with Castleford.
The leap in standard, from the Development Areas of Cumbria and the North East to St Helens, was always going to cause problems of adjustment, for the Salford Red Devils in their recent game, here at the A J Bell, and so it proved, though not before they had put in a most heroic performance.  Indeed, after fifty minutes, they had taken the lead, 10-6, only to run out of steam in the final quarter as the bigger Saints side got on a roll.
That his team had put up such a magnificent challenge, for so much of the game, was of great satisfaction to Head Coach, Garreth Carvell.
“We really dug in against a team containing around half a dozen players with first team experience, to show how tough we are, and I am really pleased with how well we did,” he enthuses.  “Everyone played their part, despite the fact that we lost two forwards and our fullback to injury, and had to reorganise everyone.  It’s difficult to keep going for so much longer than you had expected, against such a top side.
“Most pleasing was the way we matched them physically, even though, overall, they were bigger and older than us.”
Particularly noticeable, and effective, was the way in which the Red Devils got two and three men into every tackle, though of course this in itself went some way to eroding their energy levels.
“If you get your numbers in the tackles, you manage to slow the opposition down  at the play-the-ball,” he explains.  “It is energy sapping, of course, but the boys will grow into this, and in a few weeks’ time will have come to take it in their stride.  Even at this stage, I’d prefer them to expend their energy in this way, rather than chasing back to snuff out a break.”
As Garreth had pointed out before last week’s game, his prime focus is on the development of the players, rather than the result.
“It’s nice to win,” he acknowledges, “but games like this, against bigger and older opponents, are great for the development of the players.  They actually were quite disappointed at the end, for although they had gone into the game aware that they might lose, looking back on it they realise now that had they done things a little bit smarter, they might have got a different result.
“It has been a good learning curve for them, and they will have got some confidence out of it.”
Ahead of this coming Thursday’s encounter, with Castleford, it has been a case of fixing up a number of small issues, such as line speed and wrestle, which Garreth believes will enable them to be more effective, and in fact, looking to see evidence of all of these, in the game, will be his main focus.
“Those are things we have been working on, with full contact, in training this week,” he confides.  “We have knocked each other around a little bit to get all this into their psyche.  So it will be up to them now, to put these things into practice against Castleford, together with a few changes with the ball.”
It may be, though by no means certain, that the Castleford outfit proves not to be quite as tough a challenge as top flight St Helens were, but for Garreth this is an irrelevance, as he looks to get the best out of the players that he can get.
“It’s all about how we play and perform,” he maintains.  “There are even a number of small things which don’t particularly require talent or skill, such as kick – chase, working hard in defence, and just generally getting stuck in, that will help our performance along.”
Match Officials:
Referee – Mr B Robinson
Touch Judges – S Houghton, K Murphy
Venue – The Enclosure, A J Bell Stadium           KO  7pm
Admission – Adults £2
                       Concessionaries £1
                       Season Ticket Holders Free

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Sun 3rd April Wakefield Away 2pm
Thurs 7th April Wigan Home 7pm
Sat 23rd April Catalans Away 3pm
Thurs 28th April Widnes Away 7.30pm