Assistant Coach, Willie Poching, Via David Clegg, Previews The Red Devils’ Final Game Of The Season
There will have been few games this season in which the visitors to the A J Bell will have been more motivated for the encounter than will St Helens, this Thursday evening.  Currently sitting in fourth place, courtesy points difference, this is an absolutely ‘must win’ game for the Saints.
The upshot for their hosts is that they are going to have to be completely on their mettle if they are to gain anything from the fixture – a fact fully recognised by Assistant Coach, Willie Poching.
“This is certainly going to be extremely tough,” he acknowledges, “and another obstacle we have got to try and overcome, so that we finish off our season in a manner that we feel we deserve.
“That isn’t just about the result, but the performance, and we want that to reflect how we have played, particularly in the earlier part of the season.  So that puts a great focus on us, because it can leave a bitter taste in your mouth if your last game is below par.
“It’s a long time to the next outing in order to put things right and you really don’t want to be coming back to pre-season with a poor performance still hanging over you.”
It would be easy to dismiss this fixture as somewhat irrelevant, as far as the Red Devils are concerned, but spectators come to be entertained, and provided that that is evident in the team’s performance in any game, people can leave satisfied with the experience, even if the result, as for us in this case, lacks any further impact for themselves.
Willie readily accepts the eagerness and desire of our supporters to see a keenly contested match.
“We really must thank our fans for the tremendous support they have given us, throughout the course of the season,” he enthuses.  “There have been some fine times, and hopefully, on reflection they will all feel they have been provided with some great entertainment.
“As far as Thursday night is concerned, it is still within us to come out and play an exciting brand of rugby, so hopefully the players will do just, that for the final time this season.”
The last meeting of these two sides was one which, possibly, was responsible for the downturn in the team’s fortunes, when a comfortable, and seemingly, winning lead was overturned in the final seven minutes of the game.
“That was a difficult one to take,” agrees Willie.  “It was a game we had in the palm of our hand, but which brought to an end a winning streak for us, though losing some of our key personnel contributed greatly to that, too.
“If your motivation is revenge for that occasion, and to rectify it, then that’s fine, but my focus is getting the team’s performance right.  Things are very different now, from that last occasion, and Saints are coming here in a rich vein of form, whilst we,ourselves, are a much different team. at the moment.
“We have learned some lessons over the course of the year, and we want to put some of those into practice, on Thursday night.”
With the presence of the television cameras, there will be a considerable amount of interest in the outcome, in places such as Wigan, Wakefield and Hull, where fans, players, and officials will be scrutinising every passage of play throughout the game.
“That, though, is external to us,” Willie counters.  “What is much more relevant to us is what Head Coach, Ian Watson, wants, so that Martin Gleeson and I can work towards achieving this, and even more importantly, the players taking it on board and delivering it.”
Referee – Mr J Child
Touch Judges – S Kilpatrick,  L Moore
Reserve Ref – N Woodward
Reserve TJ – G Jones
Video Ref  – P Bentham