Another tough match ended in defeat last Saturday but Ian Watson will take plenty of positives out of the defeat In Perpignan.In a first half with very little chances Salford failed to post points and slipped to an 18-0 deficit. The Dragons were clinical, organised and looked a very capable team. A spirited second half from the Red Devils left the game in the balance with six minutes to go at 20-14. Leaving themselves to much to do in the end a 30-14 defeat perhaps flattered the French side slightly. Niall Evalds was again a shining light for Salford in both attack and defence. Niall looked dangerous every time he was in possession and as usual he was as safe as houses at the back. Elliot Kear made his debut and had a daunting task facing up to Israel Falou. The Welshman had a terrific match containing the huge Australian centre for the majority of the evening. Kear ran the ball well and along with Rhys Williams made a real good impression.
Wigan are the team of the moment in the Super League. With five wins from six matches the Warriors sit top of the early League table. They appear to have their mojo back, playing an exciting brand of rugby in recent weeks. Four excellent performances at home to Toronto, Hull, Hull kr and away at Huddersfield will leave Adrian Lam’s side in a very confident mood.
Over recent seasons many pundits and supporters have questioned Wigan’s style of play. That ability to grind teams down in a robotic way can be a good thing and get results, however with players like Jackson Hastings and Bevan French the Warriors have that bit of flair to accompany what looks a very exciting back line.
Super League Home record.
1997 Salford 14 Wigan 4
1998 Salford 2 Wigan 34
1999 Salford 6 Wigan 46
2000 Salford 18 Wigan 30
2001 Salford 31 Wigan 30
2002 Salford 24 Wigan 46
2004 Salford 16 Wigan 32
2005 Salford 20 Wigan 34
2006 Salford 28 Wigan 10
2007 Salford 6 Wigan 25
2007 Salford 24 Wigan 50
2009 Salford 12 Wigan 38
2010 Salford 4 Wigan 18
2011 Salford 16 Wigan 32
2012 Salford 20 Wigan 40
2013 Salford 0 Wigan 42
2014 Salford 4 Wigan 25
2015 Salford 24 Wigan 18
2016 Salford 20 Wigan 23
2017 Salford 16 Wigan 26
2018 Salford 12 Wigan 40
2019 Salford 22 Wigan 30
2019 Salford 26 Wigan 30
They played for both.
Over the years there have been plenty of players who’ve been at both clubs at some point in their career. Here are a few of them,
Mal Aspey, Neil Baynes, Steve Blakeley, Gavin Clinch, Andy Coley, Michael Dobson, Mark Flanagan, Martin Gleeson, Sean Gleeson, Wayne Godwin, Bobbie Goulding, Andy Gregory, Steve Hampson, Ged Byrne, Paul O Neil,
Harrison Hansen, Gareth Hock, Nathan Mcavoy, Lee Mossop, Jack Murphy, David Myers, Martin Offiah, Sam Panapa, John Pendlebury, Luke Robinson,
Tim Smith, David Stephenson, Trevor Stockey, Ged Stazicker, Scott Taylor, Logan Tomkins, Colin Whitfield, Stephen Wild and Phil Ford.
Jackson Hastings, Kevin Brown, Dan Sarginson, James Greenwood and Jake Bibby can now be added to that list to.
A match to remember Friday 25th April 1997.
Salford Reds 14 Wigan Warriors 4.
As the 1980s came to a close Wigan were the leading lights in English rugby league. The Challenge Cup dominance continued in to the 1990s and at times they seemed invincible. That cup run came to an end at The Willows in 1996 but today we’re going to look back at the Super League clash from 1997 at Salford.
After two fantastic seasons outside the top flight Salford Reds were promoted to the Super League. It was a fantastic start with victories in our first five games. After the famous cup win this was Wigan’s first visit back to The Willows 14 months later. Reds stand off, former Wigan player Steve Blakeley was inspirational along with half back partner Ian Watson.
Salford Captain Blakeley had been sold by Wigan four years earlier for a bargain fee of £28,000. Another former Wigan legend Andy Gregory made the Warriors suffer as Salford chalked up there 17th successive home win. The home sides work rate and support play was phenomenal with the visitors breaching the water tight defence once all night. The 34 year old David Hulme took the man of the match award.
The Reds playing their best rugby of the season took the lead in the 9th minute when Nathan Mcavoy sent Darren Rogers in at the corner. Daryl Cardiss grabbed a try to put Wigan back in the game. Salford got a crucial try two minutes after the break Blakeley’s grubber kick was hacked on by another ex-Wigan man Scott Naylor and a young fresh faced Ian Watson followed up to score. Blakeley with four goals and a hand in both tries played a huge part in a special night under the lights at The Willows.
Salford came out winners 14-4. We got the double over Wigan in 1997 with an excellent 14-21 victory at Central Park later in the year. When you look back at the job Andy Gregory did at Salford it really is heart warming. Some fantastic wins over some of the best sides around at the time. Friday 25th April 1997 is a night I’ll certainly never forget.
Watching Salford Reds in the mid 90s was pretty special. The club was on the up, a really exciting era in our history.
Referee, Russell Smith
Friday’s match .
Salford haven’t been far off the last four matches but naturally supporters have become frustrated. This match is another huge test as Wigan have plenty of strike power having scored 130 points in their last four games. Defence is likely to hold the key to the outcome on Friday. In Tui Lolohea and Kevin Brown Salford have two very capable half backs. We saw one or two flashes last weekend but both players will be looking for a dominant performance, particularly with Jackson Hastings playing the leading roll for the Warriors.
Hastings orchestrated Salford brilliantly last season but if anyone knows how to shut his threat down it’s Watson and his former team mates.
Another player returning to the AJ Bell Stadium will be Jake Bibby. The very likeable three quarter has made an excellent start to life with his home town club and he will be one to keep an eye on. Wigan have a very physical and powerful pack, Salford’s forwards will have to be on their game to match them. In the recent home games against Leeds and Wakefield the Red Devils we’re busted down the middle far to easy. This is the arm wrestle you have to compete in to stay in the contest. Oliver Partington and Morgan Smithies are two of the exciting young forwards in the Wigan pack. Both extremely tough competitors with good engines who can play big minutes. One player in tremendous form is Liam Farrell. The back rower will be 30 this summer and already has well over 250 appearances under his belt.
Victories over Wigan have been quite rare in the summer era and on current form this looks a big ask. During his time at Salford Ian Watson has masterminded some outstanding wins and performances. The last time these two sides met was one of those occasions that the Red Devils supporters will remember and talk about for years to come.
With the right attitude and maybe a slice of good fortune along the way Friday night might be a lot closer than many are predicting.
The action gets under way at 7:45pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the match everyone.