Ian Watson confident of beating Wigan and reaching Grand Final

Salford coach Ian Watson
Salford coach Ian Watson

Salford coach Ian Watson is confident his side can finally get the better of bogey team Wigan in their efforts to reach a maiden Grand Final.

The Red Devils go into Friday's final eliminator at the DW Stadium on the back of an eight-match losing run at the hands of the Warriors, including four already this season, but Watson believes they are gradually closing the gap.

"We've played them four times and come down on the wrong side so it's up to us to make sure we come out on the right side this time," Watson said. "We've learned something every time we've played them and feel like we've done certain bits better "Like our season, we've grown into each game with Wigan and we feel like we're in good shape going into this one on Friday."

Watson's men pushed Wigan all the way in their most recent meeting, the qualifying semi-final at the DW Stadium just a fortnight ago, a fact readily acknowledged by Warriors boss Adrian Lam.

"Salford have been outstanding all year," Lam said. "We've played them a fair few times and it's always gone down to the wire at the back end of the game. We respect them and they're in a situation where they've got nothing to lose and they'll fancy themselves from the last time they came here."

While Salford go into the game on the back of a resounding win over Castleford, Wigan are licking their wounds from a 40-10 rout by St Helens last Friday.

Lam will give centre Dan Sarginson, who will be a Salford player in 2020, a chance to prove his fitness after missing the Saints game with a hamstring injury but is otherwise happy to give his players the chance to make amends for that painful defeat.

"I'll give the players an opportunity to respond," he said. "This group of players have been great in this situation in the past.

"They were embarrassed in some degrees as individuals and as a team and I know that they'll be a different team this week."

St Helens await the winners but Lam insists he is not looking beyond Friday night.

"I'm not even thinking about that," he said. "On Saturday we just wiped the slate clear and focused on Salford.

"This is a massive job for us, they're playing some good rugby at the moment and have been one of the most consistent teams all season, not just the back half."

Salford have been the surprise package of the season and Watson is confident his players can last the pace, insisting the lack of big-match experience as a club is not a concern.

"No not a worry at all," he said. "Our group is really level headed and it's got great guys in it who lead, people who've been in big competitions and it's that experience that counts in these kind of games.

"We've got a lot of people who've played NRL finals, Grand Finals over here as well, and the young lads can breed off that.

"They've been very good and relaxed this week, especially the young guys."

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