Salford Red Devils v Hull KR: '˜Play-off' mentality is welcomed by Robins' coach James Webster
GIVEN the magnitude, Hull KR head coach James Webster admits tonight's game at Salford Red Devils has the air of a play-off fixture.
Rovers visit in a Qualifiers tie knowing victory would not only do much for their hopes of Super League survival but also increase pressure on Salford, who are fighting for the same goal themselves.
Having lost at Championship league leaders Leigh Centurions 32-26 last Saturday, a result that has shaken up the competition, Ian Webster’s side are suddenly looking like contenders for the Million Pound Game.
Certainly, they desperately need a win now to keep alive hopes of avoiding that.
Similarly, though, Rovers know they will have to beat at least one Super League rival to secure a top-three place themselves and will see this as an opportunity to do just that.
If they were to lose again following a 22-18 defeat at Leeds Rhinos last week, they will return from the Wembley break with just one win from three outings – and promotion-chasing Leigh visiting KC Lightstreams Stadium next.
“There was always going to be these types of upsets in the Middle Eights,” insisted Webster, although second-tier clubs prospered against Super League sides just twice in 16 meetings during last year’s competition.
“I wouldn’t call Leigh beating Salford much of an upset as Leigh have probably more internationals than any other team in these Qualifiers.
“But this feels like a play-off game which is fantastic.
“It’s a tough place to go and Salford’s home form has been very good.
“They’ll be as pumped as we are.”
Salford opened their campaign with a narrow win over Super League’s bottom club Huddersfield Giants and Webster admitted: “I’m expecting the Salford side that prepared against Huddersfield.
“They had two weeks to prepare for that but they were outstanding in how they played. That’s the type we’re preparing for.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a must-win – must-win games are talk for the media, not players – but we’re treating it as a massive one.”