It had certainly been a busy week for Salford and their coach Ian Watson.
The former Welsh International was announced as Great Britain assistant to Wayne Bennett at the start of the week. Fantastic news that just shows Ian’s good work at Salford is being well noticed throughout the sport as his reputation continues to grow.
Another huge story over the past seven days has been Robert Lui and his move to Leeds. Salford’s ‘Star Man’ was a huge fans favourite at the club with over a hundred appearances under his belt. As part of the deal Tongan international Tui Lolohea has joined the Red Devil’s and he went straight into the starting line up in place of Lui at stand off for last nights clash at Wigan.
Lee Mossop and George Griffin missed out through injury. Adam Walker was also absent as he serves a two match suspension.
Ben Nakubuwai returned to the starting line up, Ryan Lannon kept his place and Ken Sio was on the bench after recovering from injury.
Their was a bitter blow for Wigan in the opening minutes when captain Sean O’Loughlin left the field with an injury. The veteran forward went straight down the tunnel and didn’t return to action all evening.
Krisnan Inu kicked Salford in front from a penalty goal before Niall Evalds came up with a wonderful try saving tackle to stop Wigan forward Tony Clubb.
The home side levelled the scores mid way through the first half from Chris Hankinson’s penalty goal 2-2.
Salford were struggling to find a rhythm, with errors creeping into the play and a poor completion rate Wigan took control. Derrell Olpherts knocked on deep in his on half and from the resulting scrum the pressure told when Wigan winger Liam Marshall scored the games opening try. The lead was stretched further when Joe Greenwood followed up a perfectly timed kick from George Williams to just about ground the ball before the dead ball line.
Salford got back into the game just before the break. Lolohea’s high kick caused panic from the Warriors as two players collided going the ball. From the scrum Jackson Hastings wonderful pass put Olpherts over right on the half time hooter. 10-6.
Wigan cut loose at the start of the second half with two quick tries. A break right through the middle of the Salford defence allowed Jarrod Sammut to kick through for Zak Hardacker who touched down under the posts. Shortly after Marshall grabbed his second try of the match which Hankinson converted to give the Warriors a comfortable 22-6 lead.
The Marshall try certainly came at a cost for Salford, moments earlier Lolohea had a try turned down by referee Chris Kendal for a knock on which seemed a real 50/50 call.
Wigan were very methodical, completing their sets while not being too adventurous. On the other hand Salford looked lost on attack at times, with no real fluidity or cohesion.
Gil Dudson and Romain Navarrette we’re sin binned with ten minutes to go after a heated exchange and a few punches were thrown.
The hard working Hastings put Kris Welham over for a try with another super pass, his vision and speed of thought at times is remarkable.
Salford then threatened a grand stand come back but were denied a try as Hastings was called back for a forward pass.
The last word went to The Warriors, young forward Oliver Partington crashing over, Hankinson converting. 28-12.
A disappointment Ian Watson speaking after the match was unhappy at his sides error count and completion rate. “To many errors and we ended up losing the energy battle. They were better coming out of yardage than what we were”.
Speaking about new addition Lolohea, Watson said “Tui has come in today and Tui has done great. Everything we’ve asked of him he’s done. Obviously we were a bit disjointed in our attack, we need to fix that up.”
One bright spark on the night was Salford’s fantastic vocal away following. They travelled in real good numbers and were loud all night adding to what was a very good atmosphere.
Salford are back in action next Thursday when they return to The AJ Bell Stadium to face Huddersfield Giants.