Salford Red Devils head coach Ian Watson was full of praise for his pack, following his side’s 36-12 victory over Hull Kingston Rovers on Friday night.
He felt that his middles were vital, as they picked up their first win of the 2018 Betfred Super League season.
After going close against Wakefield Trinity two weeks ago, they got off the mark at the third attempt, and the Red Devils boss feels it is largely down to his forwards.
“The performance was just about sticking to the game plan and being really rigid with it,” commented Watson.
“I thought our middles were outstanding again. I thought they ran strongly and defended really well, and worked really hard. They continued to fill in from the inside.
“We know Hull KR like to test you in and around the ruck as well and I just thought our boys really did the task really well.”
The Salford chief feels that his side has more talent spread out across the board this season, and they reaped the rewards of that during their win over the Robins.
“We’ve got a better balance to us I feel, with our middles and our outside backs this year as well.
“We were really good and really patient in the play, played real direct and then obviously opened up on the edges for us and we took our opportunities when they arose.”
The strength of his forward pack has led to the omission of experienced loose-forward Mark Flanagan in rounds two and three.
After missing the season opener against Wigan Warriors due to illness, the 29-year-old has failed to force his way back into the starting 13.
Watson hailed his attitude and professionalism in the face of disappointment though.
“At the moment he’s just got to bide his time like everybody else,” he continued.
“He just knows that people are playing well at the moment and they’re in front, but it’s tough to be fair to leave Flash out.
“He’s a great guy, he’s a great player and last year he was probably our go-to man in asking him to lead things, so it’s tough leaving him out of the team at the moment.
“He’s had no airs and graces about it, he’s talked really well in the changing rooms, at training he’s talked really well. He’s been a really good pro to be fair.”
Tough trips to St Helens and Castleford Tigers follow for the Devils, however their coach is confident in his men as they head into a difficult period.
“I think we have showed what we are as a group and how committed the boys are to each other as well, to come out with a great attitude and be really enthusiastic and get the two points with a great performance.
“It’s massive for us really to get a win, especially after losing the first two.
“We wanted to make sure we got a win, we got on the ladder really and went into St Helens and Castleford really confident.
“Our performances have built over the last few weeks so we’re really confident in going to St Helens or going to Castleford in the next couple of weeks and we’re looking forward to that challenge, and I know all the players are as well.”
Salford Red Devils 36
Tries: O’Brien (8), Sa’u (18), Bibby (31), Lui (41), Evalds (66, 71)
Goals: O’Brien 6/8
Hull KR 12
Tries: Minns (3), Quinlan (56)
Goals: Shaw 2/2
Salford Red Devils: Gareth O’Brien, Niall Evalds, Junior Sa’u, Kris Welham, Jake Bibby, Robert Lui, Jack Littlejohn, Lee Mossop, Josh Wood, Lama Tasi, Josh Jones, Weller Hauraki, Tyrone McCarthy. Interchange: Luke Burgess, Ben Nakubuwai, Logan Tomkins, Craig Kopczak.
Hull KR: Adam Quinlan, Ryan Shaw, Andrew Heffernan, Thomas Minns, Justin Carney, Chris Atkin, Maurice Blair, Lee Jewitt, Tommy Lee, Mose Masoe, Ben Kavanagh, James Greenwood, Robbie Mulhern. Interchange: Shaun Lunt, Nick Scruton, Danny Tickle, Liam Salter.
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