After the whole Wembley week and all the euphoria that came with the Challenge Cup Final Salford we’re back down to business with a League match against high flying Wigan. Ian Watson’s Red Devils face a tricky seven days with a match against St. Helens on Monday followed by Warrington a week today. Resources, resilience and the squad will no doubt be tested but Watson was focused on tonight’s task.
It doesn’t seem like the same season when the two sides last met, it’s that long ago. That was back in March at the AJ Bell Stadium. A thrilling Salford comeback secured an 18-14 victory. Kevin Brown scored the winning try that night but is now out for the rest of this season and is to under go surgery on his ankle. Chris Atkin has waited patiently this season and impressed every time he’s been in the side. With Brown now sidelined this could be the ideal time for Atkin to stamp his authority on the team working alongside a Tui Lolohea.
Wigan are a tough side still smarting from their cup semi final defeat to Leeds. Their mission now is to make the Grand Final.
Jackson Hastings and Jake Bibby both made the Warriors starting lineup to face their former club.
Salford’s made a few changes from their Wembley team with Chris Atkin replacing Kevin Brown, Elliot Kear came in for Kris Welham and Andy Ackers returned after being cup tied last week. Olly Ashall-Bott also slotted in to replace Niall Evalds at fullback.
The Warriors got off to the perfect start, Sam Powell crossing for a try from close range.
Wigan continued to dominate field position and possession with Salford firmly on the back foot. Powell struck again from close range and after consultation with the video referee the try was given.
On the very next set good hands on the Wigan left set up the Warriors third try. Liam Farrell under the posts. Zak Hardacker kicking all three goals. 18-0 after 18 minutes.
A booming Krisnan Inu kicked gave Salford their first attacking set when the ball was spilled by the Warriors. Good cover defence repelled the Red Devils and it was Inu who ended up in touch a few plays later.
A lovely Jake Bibby break set up a nice try for Bevan French as the Warriors took complete control of the match.
Salford got their first points of the evening on the half hour mark.
Inu’s pass put Rhys Williams away. A penalty followed then a six to go before Kallum Watkins scored to make the pressure count.
Joey Lussick failed to make touch from a penalty and that summed up the first half from a Salford perspective.
Arguably the try of the half was Wigan’s fifth one. Bevan French returning a Salford kick raced through, turned Lolohea and Inu inside out to race over. Zak Hardacker made it five from five with the boot to leave the Red Devils a mountain to climb in the second half.
Terrific play from Chris Atkin got Salford motoring and after good support play Lolohea touched down. Inu converted 30-12.
Wigan then seemed to up the gears easily with tries from Hastings and Gildart to bring the 40 points up.
Liam Farrell added another try before Salford’s Mark Flanagan was helped off the field after a heavy collision in defence.
French coasted over to complete his hat trick after an all round display of brilliance.
Wigan had far more energy than the jaded Devils and will no doubt be challenging for the Super League title as the season reaches its climax in the coming weeks.
The Warriors rounded off the scoring with another nice try, Hastings gentle kick was pinpoint for Gildart to touch down.
Salford have a two day break now before Monday’s tea time fixture against defending champions St.Helens in what looks another very difficult fixture.
Wigan 58 Salford 12