Paul Anderson is demanding the Huddersfield Giants start tonight’s Super League XX clash at Salford as strongly as they finished last week’s thrilling encounter against leaders Leeds.
Huddersfield fought back from a 22-8 half-time deficit to share in a 24-24 home draw with the Rhinos eight days ago.
The manner of the fightback showed just how destructive Anderson’s side can be if they play to their potential.
And with the fired-up Giants boss having admitted he feels his team ‘owe’ Salford for the Red Devils’ controversial 18-12 Good Friday triumph at the John Smith’s Stadium when Rangi Chase’s ‘cannonball’ tackle on Brett Ferres caused his vice-captain an ankle injury that will sideline him for three months – Chase was subsequently banned for seven games – he’s desperate to see his players exact the sweetest of revenge at the AJ Bell Stadium tonight (8.00).
“The way we finished the Leeds game is the way I expect us to start against Salford. If not, I’ll be disappointed,” said the head coach, whose side could move back up to fourth in the table if this weekend’s results go in their favour.
“In that final 20 minutes, in particular, I thought we looked very good, physically, and with what happened on Good Friday, everyone knows how physical I want us to be over there.
“Our finish against Leeds was as good as it’s been this season, so that’s the standard I want us to maintain,
“Obviously, our start to that game wasn’t so great.
“But some people have been told some truths about what they did that night and I’m looking for them to take it on board so that, as a team, we’re even better against Salford.
“And we know a win would also keep us right in the mix.”
After a promising start to the season, Salford’s Super League XX challenge has started to faulter.
Injuries and suspensions to star players have taken their toll and, from a lofty top-four spot a month ago, the Red Devils are now just hanging on to a play-off place in seventh.
And it all started to go wrong after their 18-12 triumph at the Giants on Good Friday.
That was the night Rangi Chase picked up his seven-game ban for his illegal ‘cannonball’ tackle on Brett Ferres, which has ruled out the Giants back-row forward for three months with an ankle injury, with fellow experienced trio Weller Hauraki, Cory Paterson and Darrell Griffin also handed bans around the same time.
Hauraki and former Giants prop Griffin are now back in action, but with influential half-back Michael Dobson still missing with a leg injury, Salford could find it tough attempting to unlock what’s still the tightest defence in the competition.
It’ll certainly take a big effort for coach Iestyn Harris’s side to complete the double over the Giants tonight and notch up a sixth top-flight triumph of the current campaign.
Salford will have one of the game’s great enforcers back for tonight’s potential grudge match with Huddersfield.
Giants coach Paul Anderson fanned the flames ahead of the clash at the AJ Bell Stadium by claiming his players had a score to settle for the “cannonball” tackle by Rangi Chase in the Good Friday game at the John Smith’s Stadium that sidelined Huddersfield’s England forward Brett Ferres for three months with an ankle injury.
Neither player will feature in the return match, with Chase still serving a seven-match ban for the dangerous tackle, but Anderson insists it is payback time for the “cheap shots” from his side’s ill-tempered 18-12 home defeat.
Salford coach Iestyn Harris labelled Anderson’s comments disrespectful but concedes they have added spice to the contest.
“I’m not sure they’re the right comments to make about our position and I was surprised at them, if I’m honest, but it potentially has added something to the game,” Harris said.
“We’re all fighting for the points at the moment. We’re in a similar position in the table and we’re at home.”
If the Red Devils need someone to stand up to the Giants forwards, they will have the ideal man in prop forward Adrian Morley, who has continued to roll back the years with a series of vintage performances this season.
Morley, who turns 38 on Sunday, missed Salford’s 24-20 defeat at Hull last Friday after picking up an ankle injury in the first half of the 22-20 home loss to Castleford five days earlier.
Harris knows how tough Morley is, having played alongside him for Leeds at the start of his career, but he also believes his experience could be vital in what is expected to be another close-fought game.
“We’ve been in positions to win both games in the last two weeks but we just lacked the older heads who know how to grind out that result and how to push the team in that final third of the game,” Harris said.
“That’s certainly what Moz brings. He’s done that.
“If the team can get itself into a winning position, people like Moz are the ones that drive it home.
“Moz has been terrific for us this year and hopefully he can get back to his best.”
Already the oldest player in Super League, Morley has yet to announce whether he will play on next season and Harris says a decision will not be made until the end of the year.
“We have a lot of respect for each other,” Harris said.
“We’ve said all along we won’t make any call until the end of the year.
“He will be here either as a player or in another role with the club so it’s not a decision he has to rush.”
The Red Devils also have second-rower Weller Hauraki back from suspension and, although Harris has injury doubts over full-back Kevin Locke and prop Scott Taylor, he is confident his side can get back to winning ways and notch up a sixth success of the campaign.
“We’ll have eight first-choice players out but we’ve been in exactly the same boat for the last two weeks and I think, as long as our attitude is the same, we have enough in our armoury to really challenge Huddersfield,” Harris said.
Huddersfield Giants Under 19s will be determined to put the disappointment of a narrow defeat at Warrington Wolves behind them when they host Widnes Vikings in their mid-table Academy clash at the DRAM Centre on Saturday.
Despite tries from Matty English, Elliott Morris, Liam Johnson and Will Gledhill, who also landed four goals, the Giants suffered an agonising 25-24 defeat at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
It was Huddersfield’s fifth loss in nine Academy starts, but they should return to winning ways this weekend (2.00) against a Vikings side with just three wins to their name so far.