The Champions rolled in to town for Salford’s final warm up game before the Super League season gets under way.
Zak Hardacker was in the Warriors line up to make his debut. Young Connor Aspey was again on the bench for the Red Devil’s after a fantastic debut last week. Both sides named strong teams, Ken Sio began his Salford career on the wing for his eagerly anticipated debut.
A dry afternoon welcomed the players with the pitch in supreme condition as usual.
Salford made the perfect start with Lee Mossop applying pressure to force George Williams to kick out on the full. Jackson Hastings teasing kick provided the first points with Ken Sio touching down in the corner.
Moments later Junior Sau came close to a try but the Wigan defence held him up over the line.
After holding out back to back sets Salford came up with a knock on deep in there own half. Wigan’s pressure eventually telling as Liam Farrell powered over to level the scores at 4-4. Hardacker kicking off the touch line to edge the Warriors ahead.
As the first half wore on Wigan began to claim more territory, forcing Salford in to errors. Ken Sio was trapped in goal and from the resulting drop out Sam Powell pinched a soft try from close range. Hardacker kicking the goal 4-12.
The Warriors struck another blow just before the break, slick passing sending Tom Davies in wide out. Hardacker sliced his kick to the side of the posts, 4-16.
At the start of the second half Salford coach Ian Watson shuffled his side round. Ken Sio went to full back with Niall Evalds partnering Rob Lui in the halves. Jackson Hastings leaving the field.
Australian Joey Lussick got Salford right back in to the match poaching a try from dummy half. Ed Chamberlain converting to bring a The Red Devil’s to within a score at 10-16.
Chamberlain picked up what looked like a leg injury and was helped from the field. This handed a debut to his replacement Calvin Wellington.
Jake Bibby grabbed Salford’s third try, Joey Lussick agonisingly hitting the post with the ball bouncing on to the cross bar before falling short on his conversion attempt. 14-16.
Salford were put under continuous pressure towards the mid way point of the half. Goal line defence was good before Morgan Escare broke away to score. Hardacker made it 3 from 4 with his conversions to give the Warriors a two score lead heading in to the final 15 minutes of the game.
Hardacker then finished off another flowing Wigan move, converting his own try. Worryingly for Salford supporters Robert Lui hobbled off rather gingerly with ten minutes remaining.
Niall Evalds showing his versatility playing at halfback ghosted through the Warriors defence. After an excellent display last week against Swinton Niall was very impressive again. The Red Devil’s kept pressing and a fantastic finish from Derrell Olpherts off a Sau off load gave Salford a well deserved try.
Connor Aspey came off the bench in the final minutes to make an appearance against his home town club. Quite a few members of the youngsters family were in the crowd to cheer him on today.
Ian Watson was pleased with Salford’s two pre season performances and speaking after the match said “ I think I know my 13 that will go there (Huddersfield) we will have a little look at how Huddersfield play and what suits us whether it’s more leg speed on the bench or physicality”.
Watson will have to wait to find out the extent of Ed Chamberlain’s injury but reported that Robert Lui was fine.
Yet again Australian dynamo Joey Lussick was a the heart of everything with a Man of the Match display. Salford will open the season in a just under a fortnights time away at Huddersfield Giants on Friday 1st February.
Final score at the AJ Bell Stadium,
Salford 18 Wigan 28