Wigan v Salford.
Well it was quite an eighty minutes on Sunday. I think you’ve got to give Wakefield a lot of credit. They didn’t let Salford settle into the game. At this stage of the season the win and the two points are all that matter. Apart from Warrington and Catalans teams are beating each other and results are so hard to predict. It’s probably the most even competition we’ve had for a long time.
Anything seems possible this season and that’s what makes it so exciting.
Wigan have started the season with some good results but they’ve looked vulnerable it matches and this is something Salford coach Paul Rowley will be looking to exploit. I spoke to Rowley after the match on Sunday and he knows how tough Wigan will be. They will kick well and build plenty of pressure.
Danny Addy and Matty Costello both returned to action on Sunday and both were very impressive. Costello looked really solid in defence and took his try well. Addy is a real worker and bolstered the pack.
Salford’s away record at Wigan in the Super League era is pretty poor but when we have won there it’s been very special.
One man who will be looking to force his way back into the team is former Wigan winger Joe Burgess.
Super League away record.
1997 Wigan 14 Salford 21
1998 Wigan 34 Salford 6
1999 Wigan 64 Salford 2
2000 Wigan 52 Salford 20
2001 Wigan 70 Salford 4
2002 Wigan 32 Salford 0
2004 Wigan 20 Salford 10
2005 Wigan 40 Salford 12
2006 Wigan 20 Salford 12
2007 Wigan 40 Salford 16
2009 Wigan 34 Salford 18
2010 Wigan 60 Salford 10
2011 Wigan 52 Salford 18
2012 Wigan 38 Salford 6
2013 Wigan 46 Salford 6
2014 Wigan 45 Salford 4
2015 Wigan 19 Salford 12
2016 Wigan 20 Salford 16
2017 Wigan 16 Salford 31
2017 Wigan 42 Salford 0 ( Super eights)
2018 Wigan 30 Salford 0
2019 Wigan 28 Salford 12
2019 Wigan 18 Salford 12 (Top Five Playoffs)
2019 Wigan 4 Salford 28 (playoff semi final)
2020 Wigan 58 Salford 12 ( behind closed doors, St.helens)
2021 Wigan 16 Salford 6
2022 Wigan 30 Salford 24
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, Wayne Reid, 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, Peter Smethurst, Stephen Wild, Phil Ford, Jackson Hastings, Greg Burke, Morgan Escare, Jake Bibby and Gil Dudson.
A match to remember Friday 4th October 2019.
Wigan 4 Salford 28.
Coming into this match the two sides had met a few weeks before in he opening round of the payoffs. In a frantic match Wigan edged it 18-12 but many Salford supporters felt their side had been very unlucky to lose the match.
The following week Salford played Castleford off the park at the AJ Bell Stadium as the confidence seemed to soar through the side. That memorable try saving tackle from Niall Evalds on Castleford fullback Jordan Rankin will live long in the memory. Wigan were thumped at St Helens the previous night which saw the Saints march on to the Grand Final at Old Trafford this set up an epic semi final between Wigan and Salford.
The week building up to the match was a nervous one. Ian Watson’s Salford side we’re playing with a real belief and confidence. Despite being let down for decades the Salford die hard supporters sensed something was in the air. A change of the guard if you like. This 2019 squad wanted to make history.
Arriving at the ground that night in Wigan you could feel the energy. I was lucky enough to be on the press list but wanted to watch the match with my dad behind the sticks. I left the press box and walked towards the stand were the Salford supporters were packed in about five minutes before the kick off. The noise was amazing, spine tingling. All the disappointments of years gone by seemed to be disappearing behind me. The hairs on my neck stood on end, the familiar faces in the crowd chanted and cheered away its a time I’ll remember forever.
Salford came out with an attitude and desire that Wigan couldn’t seem to fight. Ferocious defence forced the Warriors into errors, in a whirlwind opening the hosts didn’t know what had hit them.
Krisnan Inu nailed an early penalty goal to settle the nerves. The roar from the Salford end was magical. Shortly after it was 0-4 as Inu thumped another long range penalty over.
Gil Dudson smashed his way over for a try in the thirteenth minute as the Salford pack began to dominate.
The Red Devils were rarely troubled in defence in the first half. They completed their sets well as the Watson game plan unfolded to perfection. Inu converted another penalty right on the half time hooter to send Salford in at the break 0-12 up.
Salford started the second half with another quick tempo. Joey Lussick burrowed over the line from dummy half with referee Ben Thaler calling on the video referee for assistance. Watson prowled the touch line, arms folded, no emotion. The try was given and the lead extended.
With twenty minutes remaining Salford led 0-20. So many times we’d had our dreams smashed so it was going to be the longest twenty minutes of most supporters lives. What happened next seem to play out in slow motion. Dudson took the ball in and offloaded neatly to Lee Mossop who crashed over against his former club. The emotion on the pitch and in the stand was the stuff of dreams.
Wigan scored a try in the closing stages from Bevan French but the night belonged to Salford.
A match none of us will ever forget. The team put the City back on the map, made the supporters proud. It was very special and something we will remember forever.
Salford lay a fair few ghosts to rest that night. Despite not getting the victory in the Grand Final the club once again did us proud giving everything they had in another monumental effort.
The teams that night,
Wigan Warriors: Hardaker; Marshall, Hankinson, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Leuluai; Flower, Powell, Partington, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin.
Subs, Clubb, Byrne, Smithies, French.
Salford Red Devils: Evalds; Sio, Welham, Bibby, Inu; Lolohea, Hastings; Mossop, Tomkins, Dudson, Jones, Griffin, McCarthy.
Subs, Flanagan, Lussick, Walker, Burke.
Referee, Ben Thaler.
One thing Wigan possess in abundance is pace. Their back line is one of the best in the league. When Salford were visitors in pre-season Wigan moved the ball wide at every opportunity. With Bevan French and Liam Marshall on the wings both have quality centres in side them too. Toby King and Jake Wardle can be a real handful and Salford will have to watch this threat. That said the Red Devils also loved to fizz the ball about and if both teams play this way the match will be a belter. The corresponding fixture last season was a real cracker.
Despite the flair that both teams have in abundance this game could hinge on the packs. The pack that gets on top could determine the way this game goes. Shane Wright has been impressive so far this season for Salford and Tyler Dupree takes some stopping when in full flight. Friday night is another big game for props Jack Ormondroyd and King Vuniyayawa.
On a slightly different note their has been a lot of talk recently in the media about the IMG proposals. I think it’s great to grow the sport but one thing we need to remember is Rugby League is a sport and not a Waddingtons board game. Some teams will always have more money, bigger crowds and better resources than others. The same way their will always be a team that finishes bottom of the table no matter how competitive the competition is. Take football for example. Manchester United get over 70,000 people compared to a lot less at Brentford. Does this give United a bigger right to be in the top division? Not at all. Sport is and should always be measured by your performance on the pitch.
Friday night is a great opportunity for Salford to get a big result. The Red Devils seemed to have played their best Rugby away from home so far this season and I am expecting a cracking match this week.
The action gets under way at 8pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the match.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos.