In recent weeks I’ve not been very complimentary on the weather but this evening wasn’t bad at all just before kick off. Sunshine and pleasant temperatures awaited the two sides and as ever the pitch looked a sight to behold.
Salford coach Richard Marshall had mentioned his injury problems in the pre-match press conference and add to that the suspensions of Dan Sarginson and Pauli Pauli the Red Devils were once again forced into changes to their side.
Marshall shuffled his cards accordingly with Chris Atkin starting at scrum half, Declan Patton made the bench. Elijah Taylor stepped in at hooker with Greg Burke moving to loose forward. Oliver Roberts returned to the side in the second row and Sam Luckley awaited his Salford debut off the bench. The Geordie lad had waited patiently for his big chance.
Warrington Wolves arrived full of confidence on the back of last weekends comprehensive victory over Castleford. The Wolves will meet the Tigers again next Saturday in the Challenge Cup Semi Finals.
Stefan Ratchford started at fullback for the Wolves with Blake Austin and Gareth Widdop the half backs. The evergreen Chris Hill started at prop and he’s now in his tenth season at Warrington having signed from Leigh at the end of the 2011 season.
Youngster Danny Walker started at hooker with the experienced Daryl Clark on the bench.
The Wolves struck a blow on their first attack slicing Salford open down the right edge. Austin, Josh Charnley and Ratchford linking up superbly to send the former Salford full back Ratchford over to score. He also landed the conversion 0-6.
Moments later the lead was doubled Widdop dropped his shoulder before gliding through the Salford defence at ease. Walker was in support to finish another quality try.
Widdop then produced another try from a lovely measured kick through. Toby King the scorer and Ratchford made it 0-18 with the conversion. The Red Devils had been hit by a whirlwind in the opening ten minutes.
At times it looked like a Warrington training session as they clicked through the gears comfortably. Salford were hampered by mistakes but did hit back totally against the run of play when Ken Sio picked up a Wolves attacking kick to race the length of the field to score. Credit to Chris Hill for chasing all the way back but Sio had the legs and Livett thumped a touchline conversion 6-18.
Ratchford wisely took the two points on offer when Sebastine Ikahihifo was penalised for a high tackle.
A lovely pass from Morgan Escare set up Harvey Livett who hit the Warrington line like a freight train doing ever so well to hold the ball. The centre scored the try and kicked the goal to drag Salford back into the match.
Jake Mamo went through some weak tackling just before the hooter sounded to extend Warrington lead to 12-26 at half time.
It didn’t take long for the first points of the second half. Darcy Lussick spilled a regulation pass and it was Widdop who took full advantage to race in to score.
Lussick then made amends for his error scoring a try off a Chris Atkin pass. The Warrington defence had moved up to quickly leaving a huge gap.
Salford’s good fortune was short lived though as Widdop again created havoc. Escare caught him high and was sent it the sin bin, the Wolves made the extra man count immediately as Jake Mamo grabbed his second try.
One shining light for Salford at the moment is Harvey Livett. Worryingly he hobbled off to add to Marshall’s woes.
Lussick was then sin binned to add to his eventful second half leaving Salford defending their line with eleven men. The pressure took its toll and King powered over from close range. Ratchford who had been faultless with the boot made it eight from eight to give Warrington a 18-44 lead going into the final quarter of the match.
Another stone cold knock on this time from Kallum Watkins in his own half gave Warrington another attacking opportunity. Chris Hill went over from close range and Ratchford’s conversion brought fifty points up on the scoreboard.
Sadly for the Salford supporters the tries kept coming. Ben Currie scored next racing away from deep in his own half without any really challenge from the defence.
Widdop had been magnificent all evening and he scored his second try in the closing stages strolling through a dejected Salford defence.
Salford now have a week off. You get the feeling they need to re group, take stock and work out how to go forward.
Salford 18 Warrington 62.