After three home defeats on the trot a trip to France looks another tricky assignment for Salford. While a break from the miserable weather in England may seem appealing the prospect of a match with Catalans looks quite a daunting prospect. The Dragons have hit a patch of good form in recent weeks. A thrilling victory in Hull last weekend 29-34 has sent a warning to the Super League. They have plenty of quality players in their squad and if things come together they will have a big say on matters in 2020.
Salford won this fixture 0-46 last season. At this moment in time a similar score line looks unlikely. The Red Devils look low on confidence. Although the last three matches have been fairly close contests their does seem to be something lacking. That determination in defence and belief from last season isn’t quite there.
Coach Ian Watson was bitterly disappointed after Sunday’s match against Wakefield. He questioned the attitude and enthusiasm of his players. Perhaps some are still living on past reputation and the feel good factor of 2019.
Obviously you’ve got to score points to win Rugby League matches and on average you need eighteen to be in any game. For Salford at the moment though it’s hard work that will get the team moving in the right direction. Back to basics, not clocking off around the ruck, good marker defence and first contact in the tackle needs to be much tougher. We scored three excellent tries last weekend and I believe that this team will get better the more they play together.
Where does confidence go and where does it come from in the first place? If teams could bottle it up and give it the players it would surely be priceless.
Salford still have plenty of the personnel that did so well last season. One win can turn everything around.
Expectations were always going to be high after the 2019 season but it’s times like these where everyone has to pull together. This is when the team needs its supporters to stay positive. I am confident as a Salford supporter that we can turn things around. Their is still an awful lot of Rugby League to come this season with many twists and turns along the way.
Super League Away record.
2006 Catalans 22 Salford 28
2006 Catalans 26 Salford 6
2007 Catalans 66 Salford 6
2009 Catalans 38 Salford 6
2010 Catalans 14 Salford 22
2011 Catalans 10 Salford 22
2012 Catalans 40 Salford 18
2013 Catalans 40 Salford 6
2014 Catalans 37 Salford 24
2015 Catalans 40 Salford 40
2016 Catalans 42 Salford 32
2017 Catalans 38 Salford 6
2018 Catalans 44 Salford 10
2019 Catalans 0 Salford 46
They played for both.
Despite Catalan Dragons short existence there are a number of players who’ve played for both clubs including Jodie Broughton, Luke Burgess, Iain Thornley, David Berthezene, Todd Carney, Michael Dobson and Richie Myler.
A match to remember Saturday 25th March 2006.
Catalans 22 Salford City Reds 28.
More than 500 Salford supporters took the opportunity to see the Reds play abroad for the first time in 10 years.
And they were treated to a superb see-saw contest which was jam-packed with turning points and controversial refereeing decisions.
An excellent start to the 2006 campaign had seen Salford playing some fantastic rugby built on the solid foundations of there hard working mean defence. There was a steel about Karl Harrison’s boys. Something that had been gradually built up, 2003 saw promotion after a superb and near faultless season in the National League one, 2004 and 2005 were all about stability. One of the key ingredients to the side of 2006 was the acquisition of Andrew Dunemann. The clever Australian a brilliant organiser on the pitch who was bang in form for this trip to the South of France.
Most teams would have buckled after conceding 16 points without reply in the lion’s den that is the Aime Giral stadium.
Karl Harrison’s side we’re well drilled, very determined in defence and also had plenty of attacking panache.
The Reds looked dead on their feet in the second half and they were unable to rotate players from the bench due to a host of injury problems.
Full back Karl Fitzpatrick was the hero of the hour as far as Salford fans were concerned.He scored a brilliant first half brace of tries and prevented Catalans from pinching a point at the death with a sensational try-saving tackle on Bruno Verges.
Salford’s other tries came from Aaron Moule 2, Andy Coley and Simon Finnigan.
The only real concern was the goal kicking with just two conversions from six attempts between David Hodgson and Luke Robinson.
The Reds were flying high in the league after this result with five wins from there opening seven matches. It’s fair to say the atmosphere in Perpignan after the game was tremendous. The travelling Salford supporters enjoying a special time and a team to be proud of.
A final league position of 5th place in 2006 was our best since our 4th place in 1979/80 season.
Catalans Dragons: Bosc, Murphy, Wilson, Hughes, Verges, Rudder, Dobson, Chan, Rinaldi, Guisset, Fakir, Hindmarsh, Mounis.
Subs; Beattie, Berthezene, Fellous, Teixido.
Salford: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Littler, Moule, Wilshere, Dunemann, Robinson, Baldwin, Alker, Highton, Coley, Brocklehurst, Finnigan.
Subs; Langi,Haggerty, Clough, Clayton.
Ref: P Bentham (Warrington).
Saturday’s match .
After that glorious Wembley win against Warrington in 2018 Catalans flattered to deceive last season and to put it bluntly they under achieved. The Dragons finished 7th in the League four points behind the Playoffs. A 51-8 defeat at Hull in the Challenge cup was quite a weak defence of the trophy.
Coach Steve McNamara has been busy on the recruitment front for this season. James Maloney has joined from Penrith Panthers. The Australian half back has been a revelation in the NRL over the last ten years. His quality has earned him international honours with the Kangaroos and also State of Origin call ups for New South Wales.
Tom Davies has arrived from Wigan. The young winger had an excellent try record with the Warriors. Another former Wigan player Joel Tomkins has joined his brother Sam at the Dragons. A tall powerful forward who can also fill in at centre. Josh Drinkwater has also returned after spending last year with Hull Kingston Rovers. Josh was part of the Catalans side that lifted the Challenge cup in 2018.
Perhaps the most high profile signing in Rugby League in recent times is that of Israel Folau. Whatever your opinion is of him their is no doubt about the class this man possesses on the pitch. A sensational try scorer in Australia for Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos, he has spent the best part of the last decade in Rugby Union. In the other code he has scored tries for fun both domestically and on the international stage. If Folau can produce this form in Super League he will be one to watch this season.
With all the above mentioned and the rest of the quality players the Dragons have at their disposal Salford could have quite a task on this Saturday.
One boost for Ian Watson is the availability of experienced half back Kevin Brown. Watson will be looking for a big display from his pack who got seriously out muscled and out gunned last weekend against Wakefield. The Dragons have plenty of size in their pack and if your not on your game they can steam roller teams down the middle.
One player who has stood out for me in recent weeks is Mark Flanagan. At 32 Mark is one of the senior players in the squad. As the season kicked off he looked to have lost his place in the side but in recent weeks he’s played his way back in. Flash worked really hard last Sunday and coming off the bench his influence was a positive one. An accomplished defender with the ability to throw out try scoring passes Salford need him on the pitch doing what he does best.
As we await Watson’s squad selection will their be any changes? This was certainly mentioned in my interview with him post match on Sunday.
Safe travels and enjoy the match everyone.