David Clegg Reports Head Coach, Ian Watson’s Assessment Ahead Of Our Super 8s Visit TO Wigan
Although it is less than three weeks since their Challenge Cup Semi-Final with Wigan, the Salford Red Devils have an early opportunity of avenging that defeat at Warrington which brought an end to their magnificent cup run, this season.  Despite this, the Cup itself will still throw its thrall over Friday’s encounter, with its being Wigan’s final outing before the following week’s Wembley Final, against Hull FC.
Time alone will tell whether or not this proves to be a good time to be visiting the DW Stadium, but Head Coach, Ian Watson, considers that it could, in fact, be the most testing of times for his charges, as he believes that the Warriors will be using this game as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for their final assault on the Cup.
“They will be using Friday’s game to refine what they intend to do, next week, at Wembley,” he maintains.  “Wigan have a really strong mentality as far as the Challenge Cup is concerned, and they will, therefore, be showing that, on Friday, by sticking rigidly to their game plan throughout.”
Salford, themselves, had first-hand experience of just that when the two met in the semi-final, and the Red Devils also had the opportunity to learn other things in that match, not only about Wigan, but about themselves as well.
“The semi-final highlighted a few things we needed to look at and improve upon,” Ian acknowledges.   “It also showed where we could, and should, have taken control of the game.  The whole team is wanting to right the wrongs from then so Friday’s is building up into a really interesting game.”
One aspect which was, I suspect, evident to many of us on the day, is that Wigan’s defence is such that they limit their opposition’s chances of scoring to the absolute minimum, as indeed they did to us in the second half.
“That has been our story of late,” he concedes.  “We have been creating chances but failing to turn them into points.  Last time we played Wigan it was a real arm-wrestle, so hopefully this time we will take those chances when we get them.”
Whilst Ian blames some of our recent defeats on lapses in concentration, particularly on the last tackle, one also has to factor in the extent to which injuries, particularly to key players, has impacted upon performances.  Ian, however, is rather more focused upon the benefits that this is having upon the younger players, especially in terms of the experiences they are accruing.
“This will be of benefit to us long term,” he insists.  “When you look at the number of games the likes of Ryan Lannon and Jake Bibby have played,  it is all good experience that these players will be able to bring to the team, next season.
“Kriss Brining likewise, had it not been for his injury, would also have benefitted, and even some of our more established players, such as George Griffin and Josh Jones are still only young, so the whole squad will benefit, long  term.
“Disappointing as it is to lose major games at this moment, we will get the rewards for all this, over time, and there are a few players returning to training now, so they may be available for selection in the next few weeks.”
They, undoubtedly, will find the much needed week off, the following weekend, a great help, as will many of the others who, Ian explains, will have the chance to rest up, recharge their batteries, and enable us to finish the season on a high.
Referee  – Mr C Kendall
Touch Judges – W Turley, S Kilpatrick
In-Goal Judges – C Smith, C Astbury
Reserve Ref – G Dolan