LEEDS RHINOS are gearing up to face a “desperate” Salford Red Devils side at Headingley Carnegie tomorrow, forward Brett Ferres says.
Salford have lost two of their opening three games in the First Utility Qualifiers and another defeat would send them tumbling towards – at best – the million pound game.
Despite that, Ferres rates Salford highly and is expecting a close encounter that could go down to the wire.
He said: “They are a desperate side, they have lost the last couple and they have nothing to lose coming here.
“It will be a bumper crowd again, no doubt and they will certainly throw all their eggs in one basket this time.
“They have got some fantastic players and they probably just haven’t clicked over the last few weeks.
“It is disappointing on their behalf, but everyone who comes to Leeds wants to turn it on and it will certainly be a tight, physical battle.”
Salford have beaten Leeds only twice in the summer era. The most recent of those wins was a 14-10 success at AJ Bell Stadium in April, but Leeds were 8-0 victors when Salford visited Headingley two months later.
“It was a tough game last time we played them,” Ferres recalled. “Both defences were very good. We jagged an early try, but they are a good side with a lot of quality players.
“They will be looking for a big reaction. They rested up last week, same as us and they will be desperate for this win.”
Ferres reckons Leeds will need to be better than they were in the 42-28 win at London two weeks ago.
He said: “We were a bit scratchy in patches.
“Defensively it didn’t look too good for us, but we are in a decent spot and hopefully we can be more consistent this week.”
A fourth straight victory in the Qualifiers – and seventh in succession in all competitions – would virtually guarantee Rhinos’ place in Super League next year, but Ferres insisted they are not looking beyond tomorrow.
“We are concentrating on week-in, week-out,” he stated.
“We are working hard day by day and trying to get the task done in front of us.
“It has worked for us so far so we will keep working hard this week in training and come Friday we will be ready.
“Form-wise we’re not doing too bad, but it’s a tough test now against Salford.”
Neither team had a game last weekend – due to the Challenge Cup-final break – and Ferres said: “Physically and mentally it does help everybody.
“It is a long season and we have certainly used this week as good prep’ for Salford.
“We had a couple of days off, we’ve rested up and we’ve been working hard over the last few days to get the result on Friday.
“It was nice to get a couple of days off and spend some time with family and get over the bumps and bruises.
“That’s what we’ve all done. It definitely helps us at this stage of the season and now we’re ready for a big push for the last four games.”