A spirited Wigan Warriors were downed 31-16 by the rampant Salford Red Devils. It was a first win at Wigan in 20-years for the Red Devils, one which sent them second in Super League. While Wigan stay slumped in fifth, following back-to-back defeats.
SALFORD DICTATE THE PACE
It was a poor start to the game for Wigan. They struggled to get into it, and once again, conceded early on. It was a great play out wide from Salford, which was finished off nicely by Kris Welham in the corner, to give them a 4-0 lead. The game would go a bit stale for 15-minutes, as neither side created much in attack, and was solid in defence. Liam Farrell missed a great chance to put Wigan level, but knocked-on over the line.
That was to be Wigan’s only real chance of the first half, as they never backed themselves enough, and made things too difficult going into the second half. After soaking up the Wigan pressure, Salford went up the other end, from a penalty, and furthered their lead as Niall Evalds went over. You sensed a bit of swagger about Salford, as they were enjoying their rugby against a depleted Wigan side.
Red Devils went over again following a great move out wide, which was finished off by the monstering Ben Murdoch-Masila. Dobson was good with the boot, and Salford took a 16-0 lead into halftime. It was a strange one for Wigan, as they’d played alright, and gave it a good go, but they were just not strong enough, or good enough in the key areas, and that is what ultimately lost them this game.
WIGAN DID NOTHING WRONG
Salford controlled the first half, and mainly the ruck speed, which is what gave them the precious yards downfield. Wigan were too slow to react to the play-the-ball and Lui, Dobson and Tomkins were storming them up the pitch. They made a great start to the second half, when Evalds went over for his second of the game. Even so early in the half, that try won it for Salford, and killed of any comeback thoughts.
Minutes later, the game was well and truly over, as Greg Johnson went in for Salford’s fifth try of the night, which gave them an astonishing 28-0 lead, after just 47-minutes. Wigan fans were rather quiet up to this point, but something sparked, and the fans came alive, and started to praise the side, that they knew were struggling, but giving it all they could. From that moment on, the game started to change.
In the 53rd minute, Wigan finally got off the mark, when Tom Davies dove over in the corner, to the biggest cheer of the night. I never fancied Wigan to come back and get anything from the game, but it was nice to see them show a bit of effort, and not totally cave in at 28-0 down, like many other sides would have. For the remaining 30-minutes, Wigan were superb, and showed great character, desire and determination.
It was a great finish to the game from Wigan, which is something that seems to be a regular occurrence this season. They seem to start games at a poor pace, and go behind, and leave themselves too much to do, that’s exactly what they did here. However, it seems the effort shown in the final 25-minutes or so, was enough to send the fans home in a better mood than expected, especially with losing the game.
Wigan had all the ball for a good 10-minute spell, and started to finally put some serious pressure on the Salford line. Ryan Sutton was next to go over for the Warriors, as he powered his way through, and went just near the posts. Wigan had chances to maybe start a mini-comeback, but couldn’t quite get over the line. Wigan trailed 28-10, with just over 10-minutes to go.
Lewis Tierney made things interesting as he cut-inside to get Wigan’s third try of the game, and put them just 28-16 behind with eight-minutes left. However, it wasn’t to be for Wigan, as Salford would kick a drop-goal and a penalty-goal within a minute of each other to confirm their 31-16 win. It was a superb result for Salford, one that’s taken them 20-years to do. But the Wigan lads can certainly hold their heads up high after that game.
WARRIORS DOING IT TOUGH
It’s no secret that Wigan have injury issues. Fans of other teams seems to think it’s just an excuse. But I’d like to see how they’d do with 14-players out injured, especially when around nine of them would make the first team each week. Wigan thought they had it bad last season, they couldn’t have even imagined how much worse it could get. The latest blow was Morgan Escaré being ruled out for the remainder of the season.
They’re doing it tough, no doubt. Even during this game, they lost two more players through injury. Both Sam Powell and Nick Gregson didn’t finish the game, with ankle and jaw injuries respectively. There’s just no let-up, and it seems they lose at least two-players a week. Things don’t get easier for Wigan, with Warrington, St Helens and Hull to come in their next four league games.
They do need some more bodies back, and soon. However, having said all that, I still do feel that Wigan are in a good positon at the minute. They’re just outside the top four, and I still do fancy them to make the top four and be involved in the paly-offs come the end of the season. It’s not all doom and gloom, and their season is far from over with, there’s still a long way to go, with plenty of points to play for.
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane:
“I was happy with that, I thought we showed some desire tonight and had a good dig overall. I’m the world’s worst loser but I’m ok tonight.
“I know Salford had players out tonight but I’m happy that we gave a side as good as them, such a game.
“I told them to be clinical, they did that in the second half. I just needed to convince the players that the simple things work for us.”
Salford Red Devils head coach Ian Watson:
“Wigan have had their issues with 14 players out, and the team they put out was still a good team. The way we played was really pleasing in the first half.
“It’s good for us to be up there, this year we’ve got the right attitude every single week. We’re second in the table, we need to be positive.
“It’s a good group of players, and a good group of people to work with. It’s too easy to be negative, let’s back the boys.”
IN THE SHEDS
Wigan finished the game with two more injuries, as they lost Sam Powell at halftime due to an ankle injury. Then in the second half, they lost Nick Gregson, to what’s been reported as a possible broken jaw. Both players will be assessed in the coming days.
There seemed to be no incidents that the RFL could act upon next week.
Wigan Warriors: (0) 16
Tries: Davies, Sutton, Tierney
Conversions: Woods 2/3
Salford Red Devils: (16) 31
Tries: Welham, Evalds 2, Murdoch-Masila, Johnson
Conversions: Dobson 4/5
Penalties: Dobson 1/1
Drop-goal: O’Brien 1/1
Wigan Warriors: Tierney; Davies, Forsyth, Burgess, Marshall; Woods, Powell; Nuuausala, Ganson, Sutton, Isa, Farrell, Tomkins.
Replacements: Tautai, Gregson, Bretherton, Navarette.
Salford Red Devils: Evalds; Johnson, Welham, Jones, Bibby; Lui, Dobson; Tasi, Tomkins, Walne, Lennon, Murdoch-Masila, Krasniqi.
Replacements: Kopczak, Brining, Murray, O’Brien.
Referee: Chris Campbell
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan
Date/Time: Friday 5th May 2017 – 20:00pm GMT