Head Coach, Ian Watson Discusses With David Clegg, Last Week’s Huddersfield Win And Friday’s Away Fixture At Leeds
The first win of the season is always one of the most sought after, heralding, as it does, the potential for a host of others to following in its wake.  To get ours so early on, and in an away fixture in Yorkshire, is cause for further optimism, though for Head Coach, Ian Watson, winning is what the team is all about.
“We are a confident team and we are going into every game wanting to win,” he claims.  “The Wigan game the week before was no different, and it was only that we didn’t match up to our standards in the first half, that let us down.
“Last week’s win though was a great result, particularly the way that Huddersfield have been hyped up in certain quarters, and it has been a good boost for us going forward.”
The key ingredient in his side’s performance, he points out, was their grit and determination, which enabled them to overturn an early deficit, pull away somewhat, and then pull away again towards the end, following Huddersfield’s fightback.
“The guys were resilient in the way they stuck with their task,” he enthuses.  “We had a lot of opportunities to score against Wigan, but when we didn’t manage to capitalise on any of these we promptly conceded at the other end of the field.  At Huddersfield though, we didn’t panic, defended our goal-line really well, and then took the opportunities, including penalty goals, when they came along.”
The one shaky time in the whole game, of course, came just after the overruling, by the video referee, of Greg Johnson’s touchdown in the second half.
“Had that decision gone in our favour, I think we would have kicked on and won more comfortably,” is Ian’s opinion.  “The body language of the Giants, at that time was one of some dejection, but, when the judgement came through as ‘No Try’, they lifted a little, and their try on the back of that really boosted them.
“You can get moments like that in a game, and on this occasion it led to a second, but then we steadied ourselves, and took control again.”
The fact that we had chosen to kick for goal, earlier, meant that we remained those two points in front, despite Huddersfield’s two quick-fire scores, and there was the comfort of that cushioning.
“Two penalty goals is the equivalent of an unconverted try, and given the right circumstances it is worth taking an opportunity like that, when it comes your way,” he acknowledges.  “It certainly worked out for us, last week, and I think that we are getting a good grasp of the right times to take the kicks and when to go for the tries.”
Victories away at Headingley, on the other hand, have been few and far between, the most recent being an Easter Monday 20-30 surprise for the Rhinos, in 2009.  Prior to that you have to go back to the seventies  for the 13-28 home side’s reversal, and finally to 1958 for Salford’s only other post Second World War win.
“It’s time we started addressing that imbalance,” insists Ian.  “We have spoken as a group about the fact that Leeds are not a team to fear, even though they are a good set of players.  We are expecting to go there and win.”
Certainly, having seen the way the Rhinos struggled to overcome Leigh, in the televised match, last week, it must be additional encouragement to everyone that we can add, tomorrow night, to that meagre total of three wins.
“They showed good resilience in their defence,” he judges, “but their attack let them down.  They will have been working on that in the week, and it’s not as if they are a bunch of new players recently having got together.  They are an established, settled team, some of whom have played together for a long time.  The way they play is second nature to them, and that will help them get things right in a short period of time.”
The loss of the suspended Justin Carney, is the only shadow which has been cast over the week’s preparation, and Ian is in no doubt as to the extent he will be missed.
“He is a loss to us as he is a strong part of our team, and he is a great guy to have around,” Ian explains. “He plays with so much energy.  On the reverse side of the coin, it gives us a chance to look at his replacement, Jake Bibby, and him the chance to stake his claim.”
Knowing, as we all do, Justin’s robust, boisterous style of play, two week’s absence from the fray may well stand his body in good stead for the later stages of the season.
“Justin always plays like that; it’s the kind of athlete he is, and he gives a hundred percent with everything.  With him missing, it means we will need to adapt the way we play in some areas of the game,” Ian concedes.
And of Headingley, that graveyard of so many Salford aspirations in the past, he concludes by saying, “It’s a great stadium, packed with enthusiastic home supporters, and great playing surface on which players can show off their skills.
“It’s a place you should enjoy going to rather than feeling in any way intimidated.  People should be looking forward to going there and playing in front of huge crowds.  It’s a case of going out and enjoying it.”
Match Officials:
Referee – Mr C Campbell
Touch Judges – J Roberts, A Smith
In-Goal Judges – S Ellis, D Ward
Reserve – C Straw
Jake Bibby
Kriss Brining
Michael Dobson
Mark Flanagan
George Griffin
Greg Johnson
Josh Jones
Craig Kopczak
Olsi Krasniqi
Ryan Lannon
Robert Lui
Lee Mossop
Gareth O’Brien
Junior Sa’u
Lama Tasi
Logan Tomkins
Adam Walne
Kris Welham
Josh Wood