Salford v Wigan.
After lifting the Challenge Cup a few weeks ago Wigan seem more determined than ever to add the League Championship (Grand Final win) to make it a famous double. Under coach Matty Peet the Warriors seem more resilient and tough to break down. Add to that their ability to score plenty of tries and some world class ones at that it makes them a dangerous prospect.
I think Peet has been a real breath of fresh air. Listening to his interviews and press conferences he always comes across as level headed and fair. He’s a humble man who has a terrific future ahead of him in the coaching circles of Rugby League.
After a good run of performances last month Salford travelled to East Hull last Sunday and were well beaten by Hull Kingston Rovers. It was a disappointing display from the Red Devils who were never in the contest once the Robins opened a two score lead. It’s hard to put a finger on what went wrong really but a massive improvement is needed this week for the visit of Wigan.
Salford have won this fixture five times since the start of the Super League era. All five are memorable in their own way. A cracking win in 1997 under the floodlights at the Willows, Graham Holroyd’s drop goal winner 31-30 was twenty one years ago in 2001. Their was a storming come back at the AJ Bell Stadium in 2020 just before the country was locked down, Kevin Brown getting the important try in a 18-14 victory.
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
2021 Salford 16 Wigan 17
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
Wigan have made just one change to their twenty one man squad. Centre Iain Thornley misses out after suffering an MCL injury in last weeks win at Castleford. Thomas Leuluai returns in his place. Morgan Smithies is still suspended. Pack stalwart Liam Farrell is set to play and Jai Field, Bevan French and Liam Marshall are all in great form. Former Salford favourite Jake Bibby is in line to start against his old club.
Ryan Lannon misses out for Salford after picking up an injury last Sunday. Andy Ackers missed the match last weekend after pulling out late in the week but he returns to Friday’s squad. Sam Luckley, Chris Atkin and Rhys Williams will all be looking to get back into the side.
Former Wigan winger Joe Burgess has four tries in his last two matches and has really impressed in recent weeks. He’d love to get the winner against his old club. This is another big challenge for half backs Marc Sneyd and Brodie Croft. Sneyd will need to get his kicking game spot on to test the Warriors and if Salford’s pack can get on the front foot players like Croft, Ryan Brierley and Sneyd can create chances.
It promises to be a thrilling atmosphere on Friday night. Salford’s last two home games have seen excellent victories over Leeds and Castleford and the Red Devils on their day can be a very tough side to beat on home soil.
The action gets under way at 8pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the match.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos and the Salford match day programme.