First of all, congratulations to Wigan Warriors. They played an outstanding game of rugby league at the A.J. Bell stadium. Also well done to referee Phil Bentham. For almost five minutes, he managed to make all his own decisions. After that, every chance he got, he asked Mr Thaler to make the decision for him. Eight tries were sent upstairs… At the rate it’s going, TV games will be running to well over 90 minutes unless the RFL start to make the officials use the technology a little more judiciously than at present.
Salford on the other hand looked lethargic, fuggy and struggled to hold onto the ball for a full set from minute one. How they held Wigan at bay for the majority of the first 40 is a mystery. For coach Harris to say that he didn’t think there was a lot between the teams really is trying to put the gloss on an otherwise miserable night for fans of the Devils. Don’t get me wrong, when the team did actually get back and look out for each other, they looked defensively very strong, but the old weaknesses out wide and also down the centre were often shown up when they struggled to get back onside for their own plays of the ball. I hope it was a lack of fitness and not a lack of hunger for the game, because if it’s the latter, then Dr Koukash has wasted a sizable chunk of his money. The usual players looked like they wanted more, Morley, Chase, Gleeson, Tasi all looked hungry from the get go, but by the end of the game, Salford looked out on their feet and it was only an unusual lack of awareness in the Wigan defense that allowed Salford to slip over to stop them from being kept to nil at home.
Aside from the repeated calls to the screen, this was not a night to give your average Salford fan much reason to hope. They have not now won in 7 matches and lie in 11th place in the table.
Big names do not a team make. Salford need to look at the opposition and see that their team made up of local talent, schooled with one aim, to play for the club, shirt and town is what they should be looking to emulate, rather than buying glory.
The fans deserve better. Dr Koukash promised better, in fact, it’s probably time the elephant in the room was mentioned….
Getting rid of Brian Noble was possibly the biggest single mistake made at the club this year. Nobby had just started to get them to look like they were firing on all cylinders and was asked to move sideways. Iestyn Harris is an admirable man, an honest man, who no doubt has a great future ahead of him in coaching, but to be put under the pressure that he is under from both above and on the terraces to produce results, in your first full time coaching position is nothing short of madness. I hope the Dr gives him the time needed to turn Salford into the club that they deserve to be. I also hope that they look to the surrounding area and get a decent academy up and running, and start to bring back some of the players that are currently being lost to other teams from local clubs and schools.
It’s great to see so many kids on the pitch at half time, but how many of them will want to grow up playing to a half empty stadium, just because it’s their home town club? Not many. But it’s there that the future of the club lies, not in players who are looking for a payday.
As it was, I left the ground feeling like the next home game against Bradford could be one that decides if Salford are dragged right into the relegation mire. If Wakefield and Bradford string together a couple of results, Salford could easily be looking at next season being one out of the top flight, and that would really be a blow to the faithful.
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