Smith expects tough test
Warrington Wolves are determined not to be caught out a second time when lowly Salford City Reds visit the Halliwell Jones Stadium tomorrow.
The Wolves suffered a shock 18-16 defeat in the corresponding fixture last year, their only loss during the second half of the regular season, and winger Joel Monaghan says the memory is still painful.
“They embarrassed us,” he said. “In the last couple of weeks they’ve obviously struggled so they’ll be desperate for a win but we’re desperate to keep the momentum going that we’ve created over the last few weeks.”
The Reds, who went out of the Carnegie Challenge Cup at the hands of Leeds Rhinos last Sunday, have lost their last four league matches, but Warrington coach Tony Smith believes they are a better side this year than when they beat them last June.
“They played well that day and deserved their win,” Smith said. “They're capable of that.
“I think they’re a better team this year than last year. They play more rugby league and have some tryscoring ability, which makes them a real threat.
“We are going to have to be on our game. They are capable of upsetting any team in the competition.”
One of the Salford danger men pinpointed by Monaghan is his fellow Australian threequarter Joel Moon, who has made a big impact in his first season in Stobart Super League.
“He’s been one of the buys of the year,” Monaghan said. “When I was at Canberra, we were trying to get him there. He’s a good young player.
“A lot of their attack is based around him. He’s skilful with great feet, definitely one to watch.”
Moon has recovered from the hand problem that disrupted his early matches, but Salford are still without their other major close-season recruit, forward Shannon McPherson.
“He’s been outstanding,” admitted Reds director of football Steve Simms. “He's one of the finds of the season but we’ve got to battle on without him.”
London Broncos play the first of two “on-the-road” fixtures at Leyton Orient’s Brisbane Road tomorrow, with coach Rob Powell hoping they can transfer their home form against Bradford Bulls.
The Broncos have yet to win away from home in Super League XVII but have performed creditably at the Twickenham Stoop and battled through the mud at Batley last Sunday to reach the last eight of the Challenge Cup.
“We need to continue to build on our home form when we showcase rugby league in Leyton,” he said. “We need to display the same tough attitude to the game as we did last week at Batley.”
Bradford coach Mick Potter welcomes the Londoners’ bold bid to spread the game in the south.
“It’s at a new venue that both sides are not familiar with and hopefully there will be a good crowd that will make a good atmosphere,” he said.
“They have struggled at the Stoop for years to get good crowds and I think it has to be good for the game. I think there are a lot of rugby league followers in London and it may be easier to get to than the Stoop.
“It is a football ground and we have played on those before but hopefully it will be good and the Broncos go back here again.”
The Bulls’ recent revival has stalled with back-to-back league and cup defeats and Potter is hoping his side’s opponents will have one eye on next Sunday’s Cup quarter-final at Huddersfield Giants.
“They are desperate for the two points, as we are and it should make for an entertaining game,” he said.
“Every game is one we need to win and every one that slips past makes it more important for the next one. I am hoping they will have one eye on their Challenge Cup game next week.
“I think we are still improving. We defend very well but we keep coming up with some poor errors that we need to eradicate from our game.”