Centurions desperate to put Salford to the sword

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The Independent Online

Leigh face what looks like their most important Super League game so far when Salford come to The Coliseum today.

Leigh face what looks like their most important Super League game so far when Salford come to The Coliseum today.

After a poor start against Huddersfield, an improved display at Warrington last week hinted that the promoted Centurions might have a win or two in them before too long.

Salford survived their return to the top division last season with a policy of targeting winnable games and their coach, Karl Harrison, believes that they will be in Leigh's sights this evening.

"I think they'll have a similar plan - of winning the games you need to win," said Harrison. "And they will have looked at Salford at home as a game they have to get points from."

However, Leigh's coach, Darren Abram, denies that he is adopting that philosophy. "We don't target any games like that," he insisted. "As a coach, I want to win every game, so they're all equally important."

Abram is forced into one change today, with Kevin Henderson out with a shoulder injury and replaced by Oliver Wilkes, who has served a one-match suspension. Ben Cooper is set to continue at full-back, in place of Neil Turley, who has been out of favour since being substituted against Huddersfield.

With Junior Langi still waiting to make his Salford debut and Nathan McAvoy and Paul Highton both injured, Harrison is likely to stick with the team that beat London - and with the more expansive style of play they have adopted this season.

"We've got a lot of speed in the side this year and we want to use it," Harrison said. "We've set ourselves different standards this season. We don't want to be worrying about relegation, but we expect to be in that mid-table group that might stretch from fifth to ninth and to be pushing for a place in the play-offs."

Tomorrow, unbeaten Wakefield are at London, with the Broncos hoping that using the pitch just two days before Brentford stage their FA Cup replay against Southampton does not affect the playing surface.

If Brentford progress to the next round, there could be a further complication, as their match against Manchester United at Griffin Park could clash with the Broncos' televised home game against Wigan on 12 March.

London have still not persuaded the Rugby League to allow them to register Vinnie Anderson, the New Zealand Test stand-off with whom they have agreed a three-year contract. The deal has been blocked because other Super League clubs have raised doubts about the Broncos' finances.

Wakefield, still without two of their Australians - Sid Domic and Duncan MacGillivray - are likely to be unchanged.

The other side with a perfect record, Leeds, are without Danny McGuire for the next six weeks and recall Barrie McDermott for the visit of Widnes.

The Rhinos coach, Tony Smith, admits that McGuire will be missed, but expects Rob Burrow to thrive on being given more time on the field.

Hull are still without Stephen Kearney for the game against Warrington at the KC Stadium. The Kiwi forward, judged responsible in an Australian court this week for a tackle that ended Jarrod McCracken's career five years ago, is still struggling for full fitness after a shoulder injury.

The Wolves coach, Paul Cullen, is likely to retain the team that had to work hard to beat Leigh last weekend.

In the Northern Rail Cup, Castleford will be without Deon Bird, one of the more experienced players to come down from Super League with them, for the match against Hunslet. Bird has broken his thumb and is expected to be out for up to eight weeks.

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