Dragons plot weeping Willows
10th September 2011
Catalan Dragons are aiming to put a dampener on Salford City Reds’ farewell celebrations as they help bring down the curtain on the Willows.
Tomorrow’s last match of the regular season will be the final game to be held at Salford’s famous 110-year-old ground as the Reds prepare to move to their new Community Stadium in Barton next season.
It promises to be a day of high emotion, watched by what Salford hope will be an Engage Super League record crowd in excess of 8,000, with a parade of legends heading the pre-match entertainment.
The Reds, sure to finish in the bottom six, will be keen to leave the old ground on a high but their visitors have something more tangible to play for as they eye a fifth-place finish going into the play-offs.
Hull FC’s defeat by Warrington Wolves last night guaranteed the Dragons a home tie next Saturday and coach Trent Robinson is anxious for his team to go into it with some momentum after suffering three consecutive defeats.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good position,” said Robinson, whose side were in on target to emulate their 2008 top-three finish before their late-season blip.
“We’ve been playing teams that are playing finals football already. We’re still in championship mode and there is a difference in intensity.”
Despite going down in consecutive weeks to Warrington Wolves and both Hull clubs, Robinson insists there is no need to panic and is confident his players’ desire to get back to winning ways will combat a Salford side sure to be lifted by the occasion.
“We went pretty close against Warrington - we had a couple of disallowed tries - and we came back well against Hull KR,” he said.
“The vital thing for us is the way we approach and play the game. We need that finals attitude. We need to be intense and win the small battles.
“Salford have been fighting in each game they’ve played and they’ve got some really great talent, with the likes of Daniel Holdsworth, Stefan Ratchford and Luke Patten, and their forwards have some offload in them.
“I’m expecting a pretty intense and fiery game but I’m also expecting some hunger and desire from my boys after last week and should be enough for us.”
The Dragons are a point behind Leeds Rhinos, who can clinch fifth spot with a victory at Huddersfield Giants tomorrow.
The Rhinos have experienced a mixed first season under Brian McDermott but the former Great Britain forward is confident the Carnegie Challenge Cup runners-up can still make an impact in the League.
“We are trying to secure that fifth spot and I think we are in good shape at the moment,” he said.
“I am guessing there will be a few teams that don’t want us in the play-offs, given the season we have had and the determination we have shown in recent games and how cohesive we looked against Wakefield on Friday.
“We have had a lot of challenges this year and as a group the players are really up and their energy levels are really good at training and we are ready for the challenges ahead.”