Wigan Warriors host the Salford Red Devils this Friday night down at the DW Stadium. Wigan will be desperate to rectify their 54-4 hammering at the hands of Castleford last week, while Salford will be looking to continue their good form.
LAST TIME OUT
Wigan Warriors come into this game on the back of a 54-4 defeat away at Castleford Tigers. It was a horrid night for Shaun Wane’s men, as they were hit for nine tries, two sin-binning’s and suffered six injuries. It took the Tigers less than a minute to get the scoreboard going, as Adam Milner scored from dummy-half. Not long after, Michael Shenton went over to double Castleford’s lead. Things got worse for Wigan as Frank-Paul Nuuausala was sent to the sin-bin for some back-chat to referee Robert Hicks. Luke Gale would kick the resulting penalty and the Tigers led 14-0 after 18-minutes. Wigan would score their first and only try of the game through Sam Powell, but never kicked on from there as Castleford scored another two tries before halftime through Matt Cook and Mike McMeeken to take a 26-4 lead into the second half. In the 45th minute, Morgan Escaré was sent to the sin-bin following a poor high shot on Luke Gale. During that 10-minute spell, Tigers would go on to score four tries through Greg Minikin, Luke Gale, Grant Millington and Jake Webster to extend their lead to 48-4, with still 20-minutes to go. The game went stale for about 10-minutes or so, and Wigan started to struggle being low on personnel and in the 71st minute, Greg Minikin went over for his second, as Castleford hit 54 and recorded a stunning 54-4 win, which sent them top of Super League, and Wigan crashing down to fifth following the weekends results.
Salford Red Devils go into this game on the back of a hard-fought 30-10 win over the Widnes Vikings. It was a much-needed win for the Red Devils, as they’d lost their previous league game away at Catalans, and after a great start to the season, that result halted them a little. They responded superbly with a win against Toronto Wolfpack in the Challenge Cup, and then backed that up with this win at the AJ Bell Stadium. The game was even for the opening 20-minutes, as both sides struggled to get anything going in attack. However, Salford would then go on to take control of the game, as they took a 12-0 lead with tries from Ben Murdoch-Masila and Greg Johnson. Salford started to take charge, and was unlucky to not extend their lead before halftime, with Widens just about holding the out on multiple occasions. Widnes were still in the game, albeit not creating much when with the ball. Minutes into the second half, the Vikings went over for their first try of the game through some great individual play from Tom Gilmore. That try gave them some confidence, but it wasn’t to last, as Ryan Evalds went over for Salford to further their lead to 18-6. It was Widnes who went over next through Patrick Ah-Van in the corner, to get them just 18-10 behind with just over 15-minutes to go. That was to be the last points for Widnes, as Salford would score two-tries in the last 10-minutes through Murdoch-Masila and Jake Bibby to see the game off and move Salford up to third in Super League.
Both teams go into this game with several key personnel missing. Wigan have no fit halves, and no backup ones either. While Salford go into this one missing players like O’Brien, both Carney’s, Sau, Flanagan and more. It’s going to be a tough one for both sides, who are literally doing it tough this week, low on numbers, and needing a win. I think an key battle this week is tough to call with so many new faces playing, it’s tough to tell who’s going to perform well. Wigan look set to hand a couple more debuts to Woods and Fell, while Salford also bring some young guns into the side.
The experienced players who are playing for both sides will need to step up and be counted on Friday, as it’s down to them to carry their side through the game, and help the young lads out.
Wigan still look solid on the wings, with Marshall, Burgess, Davies and Forsyth out there, as they’ve been together for a couple games now, you’d expect them to trouble Salford this Friday.
The half-back battle will be an interesting one, as Wigan are without their starting pair. They look set to have Powell and Gregson in the halves, and they’ll be up against Dobson and Lui, who have been together all season, and know how each other work.
This is going to be a tough game for Wigan. They’re down on numbers, and Salford are playing well this season. But I have great faith in the youth at Wigan, and I expect them to respond this week with a much-needed win.
Wigan Warriors by 10
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane:
“(On last game) Some of the tries we conceded were unacceptable, really soft, regardless of people going off injured. It wasn’t Wigan standard.
“Ian (Watson) is a smart coach and he’s got them playing really well, I like hoe they attack and defend. We turned over too much cheap ball last week and can’t do that again.”
Salford Red Devils head coach Ian Watson:
“(On last game) There were a few people writing us off with the changes we had to make to the team. But the young boys have come in, stood up and showed their value to the squad.
“We have to be better in our preparation going forward because other teams are seeing us differently because we are now in the top four.”
Shaun Wane makes six changes to this week’s squad, with Morgan Escaré, Ben Flower Anthony Gelling, George Williams, Sean O’Loughlin and Michael McIlorum are all unavailable and make way for Lewis Tierney, Liam Forsyth, Joe Bretherton, Jack Wells, Josh Woods and Gabriel Fell.
Ian Watson makes five changes to the side that faced Widnes, with Todd Carney, Mark Flanagan, George Griffin, Craig Kopczak and Lee Mossop making way for Connor Williams, Jordan Walne, Josh Wood, Liam Bent and Niall Evalds.
Wigan Warriors: Joe Bretherton, Joe Burgess, Tom Davies, Liam Farrell, Gabriel Fell, Liam Forsyth, Josh Ganson, Nick Gregson, Willie Isa, Liam Marshall, Romain Navarrete, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sam Powell, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Lewis Tierney, Joel Tomkins, Jack Wells and Josh Woods.
Salford Red Devils: Adam Walne, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Connor Williams, Daniel Murray, Greg Johnson, Jake Bibby, Jordan Walne, Josh Jones, Josh Wood, Kris Welham, Kriss Brining, Lama Tasi, Liam Bent, Logan Tomkins, Michael Dobson, Niall Evalds, Olsi Krasniqi, Rob Lui and Ryan Lannon.
Referee: Chris Campbell
Venue: DW Stadium
Date/Time: Friday 5th May 2017 – 20:00pm GMT