A pleasant sunny evening with a pitch in tip top condition awaited the two sides who were meeting for the third time this season. Wigan won the Challenge Cup tie at a canter 20-0 but when the two sides met in the league at the back end of April Salford were pretty unfortunate not to get something out of the match after a terrific comeback. It was Jai Field’s last gasp try that saved the day for the Warriors in dramatic fashion. Since then Wigan have won the Challenge Cup and backed up last Saturday with a very good victory away at Castleford.
Salford have won two home game on the trot but were second best last Sunday at Hull Kingston Rovers. The Robins ran out comfortable winners 43-16.
Wigan were without centre Iain Thornley who has picked up a MCL injury. The experienced Thomas Leuluai returned in his place.
Liam Farrell started in the second row, for me one of the best forwards in the country with a tremendous try ratio for a back rower.
Red Devils coach Paul Rowley made Changes to his side from last week. Morgan Escare and Danny Addy missed out with Andy Ackers and Sam Luckley returning. Ryan Lannon missed out through injury and Sitaleki Akauola started at prop.
Wigan made their intentions know from the start. Playing the game with real pace and a quick tempo the Warriors struck first with a try from Harry Smith. Just like last week Salford struggled to gain territory and didn’t really have any play the balls near the Wigan line in the first half an hour of the match. Both sides defended well in the first half and Salford enjoyed a good spell before the break. For all the possession and threatening Wigan had done they only had a 0-6 cushion at half time.
Both sets of players came together early on in the second half. After some pushing and shoving referee Chris Kendall awarded the visitors a penalty. Moments later Salford were caught cold when Jake Bibby kicked for Liam Marshall. It was a perfect clean pick up from Marshall who finished superbly.
Wigan started to attack down the right edge and were busting the line far to often for Salford’s liking. Jai Field and Bevan French combined only for French to spill the ball. The same combination made amends immediately. This time they worked the chance to perfection with French scoring the try.
Salford were now firmly on the back foot trailing 0-16 and a mistake deep in their own half lay on another opportunity for Wigan. From the set scrum the ball fizzed out wide at tremendous speed. Each pass crisp and accurate. French finished with a real panache.
The Warriors has started to go through the gears and Salford had no answer to the attacking threat they possessed. Quick hands again and Marshall touched down on the right edge before French scored his hat trick in more or less the same spot. 0-30
With four minutes remaining Salford finally gave their supporters something to cheer. Ryan Brierley laid on a try for Deon Cross with a measured kick. Two minutes from time Kallum Watkins touched down from another neat kick to round the scoring off.
Sometimes in sport you have to hold your hands up when your beaten by the better side. Wigan are a quality opposition and they had too much pace for Salford to deal with. The Red Devils never gave in and deserved their two late tries. Their next match against Wakefield Trinity a week on Sunday is now a huge game with plenty of pressure on it.
Salford forward Sam Luckley was in good spirits after the match and full of enthusiasm for the games to come. Sam has been poorly recently and was happy to be back in the team after illness. Speaking to Shane Wright after the match the Australian forward said he’s on the road to recovery and could be back playing in a months time.
Salford 12 Wigan 30.
Thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos.