Cast your mind back to well over twelve months ago and the last time crowds were permitted at the AJ Bell Stadium Salford produced a memorable fight back to defeat Wigan 18-14. It was Kevin Brown’s try that clinched victory. Shortly after the season was suspended until well into the summer months. Upon its resumption the matches were played behind closed doors. With Salford’s loyal band of supporters returning this Saturday it seems quite ironic that once again Wigan are the visitors.
Both sides played on Monday. Salford were soundly beat at St.Helens, Richard Marshall’s side put up a good fight for an hour before the finely tuned Saints put the game to bed. The disappointing aspect for the Red Devils was the lack of creativity in attack. Don’t get me wrong the defence they were playing against was nothing sort of superb. Saints’s defence has been water tight so far in 2021 and they’ve now nilled two sides with Hull Kingston Rovers being the other one a few weeks ago. However Marshall has a lot to work on with his players. The team seems to be lacking something especially with ball in hand. The commitment and effort has been first class over the last few weeks but the tea is lacking that spark.
Wigan played away from home at Leigh on Monday evening and were given another stern test by the Centurions. The home side led 10-0 in the first quarter. Wigan struck back and the teams went in level at half time before a much improved second half display saw the Warriors take the victory 16-30. Credit must go to Leigh who seem to be improving and finding their feet in top flight Rugby League.
Wigan were exposed by Hull in the Challenge Cup a fortnight ago and Salford will be hoping to capitalise on areas they feel they can target.
Salford suffered a fair few knocks against Saints in what was a bruising encounter. Dan Sarginson will also be missing on Saturday after being lumbered with a three match ban for a dangerous tackle against Saints. Sarginson is a whole hearted player who runs the ball in as hard as anyone. He sometimes reminds me of the kid at school that’s always climbing trees and falling over. The rough one that’s full of cuts and bruises. I don’t think you can coach that level of commitment and bravery. Salford will miss his presence over the coming weeks.
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
2020 Salford 18 Wigan 14
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.
Ged Byrne, a star for both clubs and a good try scorer.
A match to remember Friday 3rd March 2006.
Salford City Reds 28 Wigan 10.
Salford had made a fantastic start to the season and this victory propelled us up to second place in The Super League table. Two impressive wins in the opening two rounds of the season 6-24 away at Warrington and a 16-0 home win against new boys Catalans Dragons had been an impressive start for Karl Harrison’s side.
This particular night back in 2006 was pretty special. There had been quite a bit of snow during the day leaving the pitch with a covering of white. Fortunately the match passed a 5pm pitch inspection.
Salford’s defence was composed and organised containing Wigan for large parts of the contest.
Simon Finnigan playing at loose forward crosses for the games first try to put the City Reds in front.
The prolific Pat Richards touched down for Wigan to cut there deficit before Andy Coley restored Salford’s lead crashing over from close range off Malcom Alker’s neat inside pass.
Captain Malcom Alker was instrumental back in the 2006 season.
The Warriors threatened at the start of the second half, Danny Orr’s try pegging Salford back at 14-10. This proved to be the catalyst that clicked the home side in to gear. John Whilshere and Andrew Dunemann both touched down in a dominant ten minute spell to sew the game up much to the delight of the home supporters.
David Hodgson streaked Away and raced forty metres to score a late try against his former club to seal an emphatic nights work for Karl Harrison’s side.
The Salford side of 2006 typified there coach, plenty of grit, determination and hard work.
Salford: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Littler, Moule, Wilshere, Dunemann, Robinson, Baldwin, Alker, Highton, Coley, Brocklehurst, Finnigan. Replacements: Clough, Haggerty, Rutgerson, Langi.
Wigan: Ashton, Dallas, Richards, Vaealiki, Calderwood, Orr, Moran, Seu Seu, Godwin, Logan, Tickle, Hansen, Brown. Replacements: Paleaaesina, Hargreaves, Tomkins, Higham.
Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).
Over the last few matches supporters have debated long and hard over Richard Marshall’s team selections. Everyone has their own opinion and ideas of the best starting thirteen. One of the most contentious issues has been the fullback spot. Morgan Escare has been the name many people have asked for but Marshall has used Elliot Kear and Dan Sarginson up to now. With Sarginson suspended and Kear leaving the club at the end of the month will Escare get an opportunity?
Wigan are a strong side and like to play an aggressive style of play. They’ve got an abundance of pace in their side with Bevan French being a player to watch. After suffering some horrendous injuries through his career Dom Manfredi has been back in the side in recent weeks and former Salford favourite Jake Bibby has scored nine tries already this season. Jackson Hastings is always exciting to watch and with John Bateman back in the team after his spell in Australia this looks another huge test for Salford.
Jake Bibby is in fantastic try scoring form for Wigan.
Hopefully the players will receive a boost with the return of supporters. Marshall has yet to coach his Salford side in front of their own supporters but I am sure he will get a great welcome from them on Saturday. Results haven’t gone to plan as the club would of liked so far this season but now is the time to get behind the players and staff to push our club forward.
The action gets underway at 1pm.
Keep safe and enjoy the match.