Salford v Wigan.
Last Saturday’s defeat in the Challenge Cup was a real hammer blow for both the club and the supporters. It took me a few days to come round and I must admit on the Sunday I was still hurting. The cup only comes around once a year and it’s a trophy that has eluded Salford for eighty five years. Arriving on Humberside side the Red Devils were in blistering form with eight wins from nine matches. For one reason or another the match was a huge disappointment, we never got going and it’s fair to say the game was more or less over at half time. When you look at the semi finals with Leigh, Wigan and St.Helens there it would of been amazing to be part of. I’ll still watch the two matches later next month but it won’t feel quite the same.
Perhaps playing Wigan in the Super League this week is the perfect bounce back game. It promises to be a thrilling atmosphere with plenty of entertainment off the pitch, glorious weather on the way and a big crowd expected. These are the games players want to be part of and I am sure Paul Rowley’s men will be fired up and ready at 3pm on Sunday.
Wigan had a very tough game last Sunday in the Cup. They had to play the majority of the match with twelve men after Kaide Ellis was sent off. Against Warrington’s huge pack of forwards that was some effort for the Warriors to get the win. Wigan have the ability to grind wins out and can be very tough, physical and manage a game perfectly when their backs are against the wall.
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
2022 Salford 12 Wigan 30
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, Sunday 13th May 2001.
Salford 31 Wigan 30.
Between the years 1998 and 2002 Salford struggled desperately in Rugby League’s top flight. I think the Challenge Cup semi final defeat against Sheffield Eagles knocked the stuffing out of the club who had made good solid progress through the mid 90s.
Long losing streaks became a regular occurrence and Salford seemed light years behind the elite clubs of the Super League. As a supporter faith is never questioned but you certainly needed a think skin, a good sense of humour and plenty of patience!
However among those heavy defeats and disappointments there was always the odd match where the team sparkled! Like a priceless diamond among the pebbles.
The 2001 home league fixture with Wigan was one of those matches you remember! It had everything and made all those drubbings worthwhile!
Wigan were coached by former New Zealand head coach Frank Endacott and arrived at the Willows with a star studded team.
After a good run around Easter time Salford’s form had gone out of the window with four defeats on the bounce heading into this match. Wigan had drew with St.Helens on Good Friday 22-22 and arrived with a 50-6 victory the previous week over Wakefield leaving them third in the table.
Former Wigan star Martin Offiah gave Salford a shock lead and Michael Hancock added a second try, the visitors fought back with tries from right winger Brett Dallas, scrum-half Adrian Lam and second rower David Furner.
A pulsating first half ended with Salford trailing 12-22. This didn’t really tell the story of the match though and every time Salford had the ball they looked a real threat.
Two tries in three minutes from Nick Pinkney early in the second half changed the complexion of the game. Pinkney was a real flying winger with tremendous pace. His try record at previous clubs York, Keighley, Sheffield and Halifax was one to be proud of.
With the score now level another big twist followed when Wigan forward Ricky Bibey was sent off for flattening Salford’s Australian second rower Michael Hancock. Graham Holroyd kicked the penalty to edge the Red Devils in front 24-22.
Wigan Captain Andy Farrell levelled matters with a 40-metre penalty and Wigan regained the lead when winger David Hodgson raced almost the length of the field for a fabulous try, with Farrell’s seventh goal from as many attempts making it 24-30.
As the match entered the final ten minutes Pinkney finished off a dazzling Salford move to claim a hat-trick, with Holroyd’s fifth goal tying the scores once more. The atmosphere was a tense as they come. Supporters held there breath, it needed a huge play and that’s what Salford got. Holroyd steadied himself and clinched the match with a super drop goal to send the home crowd delirious. A thoroughly deserved victory for Salford. A week later it was straight back down to earth with a battering at Knowsley Road against St.Helens 66-16.
The teams that day;
Salford: Broadbent, Pinkney, Maloney, Littler, Offiah, Brown, Holroyd, Driscoll, Alker, Southern, Hancock, Nicol, Wainwright.
Subs: Coley, Highton, Arnold, Marsh.
Wigan: Radlinski, Dallas, Connolly, Renouf, Hodgson, Johns, Lam, O’Connor, Smith, Cowie, Newton, Furner, Farrell.
Subs: Johnson, Betts, Cassidy, Bibey.
Referee, Russell Smith.
One player who will be missing for Wigan this Sunday is Kaide Ellis. Australian forward Ellis has been given a three match suspension after his conduct in the Challenge Cup win over Warrington in which he was shown the red card.
This season we seem to be getting a lot of red cards. Three of the Cup Quarter Finals at the weekend saw players getting an early bath. A fair amount I think are warranted but I still think plenty could be avoided by sensible refereeing, bringing the players together and showing each other respect. Rugby League is a very physical sport, however the players also need to take responsibility for there actions and use a bit more common sense at times.
What can we expect on Sunday? Well Wigan are a tough nut to crack. They have an abundance of pace in the back line provided by Bevan French, Liam Marshall and Jai Field to name but three. Joe Shorrocks maybe a forward but he’s been a useful player this season filling in all over the pitch.
Wigan will no doubt be very physical and try to bully the Salford pack. Both sides have exciting back lines but this game will be won by which pack gets on top and builds that platform. On Saturday Hull Kingston Rovers got the better of Salford in the forwards. They dominated and won the arm wrestle in the middle of the pitch. Supporters love to see the flamboyant rugby Salford can produce but you have to earn the right to play. Building pressure and keeping composure will be key this Sunday. Marc Sneyd and Brodie Croft will have a lot on there shoulders but the Red Devils are more than capable of getting the job done.
The action gets under way at 3pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the match.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos, Wigan today and the Salford match day programme.