After Salford’s heroics on Good Friday it was back to The AJ Bell Stadium to face Wigan Warriors on Easter Monday.
The Warriors had suffered a derby defeat to local rivals St Helens and were in desperate need of an upturn in form.
Ian Watson made changes at half back with Josh Wood coming in for Robert Lui. Junior Sau replaced Kris Welham at centre and Logan Tomkins started at hooker with Joey Lussick on the bench.
Wigan played a very physical and sometimes very close to the knuckle style of play for the full 80 minutes. They made their intentions known from the kick off as Ben Flower clattered Gil Dudson. Moments later Dudson left the field with a head injury and didn’t return.
This seemed to unsettle and knock Salford off their game. Joe Burgess scored the games first try on eight minutes.
Krisnan Inu then kicked out on the full from the kick off, this in turn handed more momentum to the Warriors as they piled the pressure on forcing a drop out. Zak Hardacker increased the advantage to 0-8 from a penalty goal.
Again from the kick off Inu kicked out on the full allowing Wigan to attack from yet another good position. The powerful Joe Bullock hit a nice short pass on the burst to crash over. The conversion was good moving The Warriors in to a 0-14.
Referee Ben Thaler continued to blow for penalties as his afternoon got busier.
Three penalties on the trot followed for Salford as the home crowd roared for a team warning from Mr Thaler.
The Red Devil’s were finally rewarded for their honest endeavour with a try from George Griffin. The hard working second rower put yet another amazing shift in this afternoon working tirelessly in attack and defence.
Wigan eventually received a team warning ten minutes before the break.
George Williams darted through only to knock on over the line to Salford’s relief to round off a hectic first half.
Jackson Hastings clicked in to gear to set up the first points of the second half. Salford’s linchpin soaring through a gap to set up the supporting Niall Evalds to score a well worked try.
Wigan hit back when Joe Greenwood used his height to reach out to score.
Greenwood’s try came on the back of a real 50/50 call from referee Thaler. A high kick was spilled by The Warriors under intense Red Devil’s pressure. Thaler adjudged Salford as offside.
At 12-20 Watson’s men needed a response quickly and they certainly got one.
Inu with a short kick off set up a thrilling attack. Daniel Murray crashed over but just lost the ball over the line. Moments later though their was no denying Adam Walker as he smashed his way to the line like a freight train. Inu’s conversion left Salford just two points behind 18-20.
Niall Evalds came so close to scoring, deciding to pass to winger Jake Bibby who had just miss timed and over run the ball.
Salford kept prodding and being roared on by the fantastic vocal home supporters took the lead for the first time in the match. Joey Lussick diving over from close range for a try that has become the trade mark of the young Australian. Inu added the conversion and shortly after a penalty goal to nudge his side into a 26-20 lead with just ten minutes remaining.
Derrell Olpherts came up with a huge error knocking the ball on in his own half returning a kick. Wigan attacked against a tired Salford defence and Greenwood grabbed his second try. Hardacker hit the post with his conversion attempt to leave the scores at 26-24 going into the closing minutes of a pulsating match.
George Williams came up with the match winning play piling pressure on Evalds who surrendered possession. The Warriors threw everything into what was a desperate attack. Zak Hardacker going over to break Salford hearts four minutes from time with the match winning score.
Salford coach Ian Watson was bitterly disappointed speaking after the match.
“Their is a load of disappointed people in the changing room at the moment.
We made quite a few errors at the beginning of the game to give them the impetus, got ourselves back into a position to win the game before a couple of individual errors cost us at the back end. Their wasn’t a lack of effort it was silly little dumb plays really.”
Salford are back in action next Saturday when they travel to London Broncos.
Salford 26 Wigan 30.