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Michael Monaghan says defence key to Warington Wolves' consistency
JOINT-skipper Michael Monaghan believes Warrington Wolves will hit consistent form if they can fix their leaky defence.
Wolves put in one of their best performances of the season so far to beat Catalan Dragons on Friday, but five days earlier were outscored by Bradford Bulls.
Monaghan says the side were focused on their defence after the loss to Bulls and wants to replicate Friday’s form against St Helens at Magic Weekend.
“For us, the result is important, as it always is in rugby league,” he said. “But for this weekend, performing well is probably more important to start getting some consistency – if we do that the results will take care of themselves.
“I think the defence has been the Achilles’ heel of our season, we’ve leaked way too many points and that has put us in a position in games where we’ve got to score a lot of points to win.
“Unfortunately with some changes we’ve had and new combinations we haven’t been good enough to do that.
“From the Bradford game to the weekend we had a chat about really starting to focus on our defence and get a little more commitment and work together.
“It paid off at the weekend but for us the challenge is backing it up two games in a row. It’s been the story of our season really, we play well one week and then drop our standards the next week.
“Hopefully we can start to build some momentum and with that confidence find a bit of a return to form.”
Injuries have contributed to six half-back pairings this season as well as Tony Smith giving minutes to some younger players in the squad, something Monaghan feels could stand Wolves in good stead during the run-in.
“We’ve had a lot of different combinations and on the back of losing some real experienced players last year and bringing in some young guys this year, to then have injuries and force those guys to play minutes and key roles it has impacted on our performance,” he explained.
“But hopefully that experience they’ve gained this year will help them at the back end of the year and some of the senior guys can improve those performances as well and start getting some real consistent form going.”
Wolves were well beaten on the opening day by Saints and Monaghan expects another tough test on Sunday.
“We had had a good pre-season out in Australia and we did go into that game pretty confident,” he added. “But there were a lot of unknowns heading into the start of the season, a lot of new combinations.
“Saints have recruited well and have got some good form on the board this year, so we know it’s going to be a tough game.
“The result is important but playing well is what we’re focused on – if we do that, we’ve got a good chance of winning.”
Wolves have won two from two at the Etihad Stadium, including victory against Sunday’s opponents last year, and Monaghan said the players always enjoy the occasion.
“It’s a great atmosphere when you’ve got fans from all teams coming to watch the games,” he said.
“Being close to Warrington it’s a good chance for our fans to get down, we always get some good support there.
“Our record is good and I think last year St Helens went into the game favourites. Hopefully we can do the same this weekend and put in a performance that gives us some confidence for the rest of the season.”
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