Assistant Coach, Martin Gleeson, Gives, Via David Clegg, His Assessment Of Friday’s Premier Home Super 8s Fixture Against Castleford
In what has proved to be the most topsy-turvy Super League season imaginable, one constant has remained throughout, and that has been the scintillating form of runaway league leaders, and our first visitors ever in the Super 8s, Castleford, yet, back in mid-March it was the Salford Red Devils themselves who became the first team to clip the high-flyers’ wings with a 13-12 home victory.
That was five months ago, and more recently it was the turn of the Tigers to gain revenge for that first encounter, with a 38-14 win at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle, leaving, as it does with almost all of our seven forthcoming outings in the Super 8s, this match as the decider, and with a place in the semi-finals mathematically open to all of them.  This is a point of which Assistant Coach, Martin Gleeson, is only too aware.
“Obviously Cas have been the benchmark all year, and we were in a lot better form at the time of that first win,” he acknowledges, “though we didn’t play too badly, at Castleford.  We just conceded too many penalties there, and our defence around the edges was caught out on a number of occasions, through misreading the situation.
“We have really got to focus on ourselves, and cut out the errors because in this period during which we have been out of form, we have been coughing up far too many.”
That definitely was not the case back in the early part of the season.
”Back then we had the lowest error count in the competition,” he informs us, “but since then we have got ourselves into a vicious circle whereby through losing the ball we have to defend more, which expends more energy, players become fatigued, and consequently make further errors.  We really have to prevent those early errors.”
Last Friday’s match at Hull was a very clear example of this, with the Red Devils coming out at full tilt, at the start of the second half, and looking as though they would rip the Airlie Birds to shreds, only for two missed chances being immediately punished by a Hull score, and from that point onwards the visitors were struggling.
“The second half of the last two games have gone away from us as those errors crept in, and the way we scotched those couple of chances is something we cannot accept,” he judges.  “We work hard in defence, build up all the pressure with the ball, and then let them off by not scoring, which hands the initiative to the opposition.”
One element in Salford’s favour, on Friday, is that, with having finished in the top four, this is one of our four home games, and in fact a total of three Yorkshire sides will have to make the trip across the Pennines to visit us, here, at the A J Bell.
“The extra home fixture is definitely of benefit to us,” Martin enthuses, “as, in general over the season, we have been pretty good at home, with the exception of the Leeds game.  In fact it is now nearly five weeks since we have had a home fixture.
“You could also add to that, the fact that Castleford themselves haven’t been playing as well as they were earlier in the season, so if we look after our game, both in attack and defence, we can turn the corner, there’s no doubt.”
In similar fashion to Salford, the Tigers also had a somewhat disappointing start to this part of the season, with a home defeat against resurgent S Helens, and that adds to Martin’s belief that things are within reach of correcting.
“Things can switch round in an inkling, and we just have to go into the game convinced of that possibility,” he maintains.  “We, the coaches have identified what’s wrong, it’s up to the players now to put things right, and they have a good opportunity to do so, on Friday against Cas.”
Referee – Mr C Kendall
Touch Judges – S Kilpatrick, L Moore
Reserve Ref – N Bennett
Reserve TJ – S Houghton
Video Ref – B Thaler