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MATCH PREVIEW | Wigan Warriors vs Salford Red Devils

Wigan Warriors are looking to win a fourth straight Super League game for the first time this season but are coming up against a Salford Red Devils side who have aspirations of achieving a top-four finish. With both sides level on points, this one should be a cracker. Here’s everything you need to know.

 

TEAM FORM GUIDE

Wigan Warriors

The Warriors have enjoyed a mini resurgence in recent weeks after picking three victories on the spin for just the second time this season. They were 38-22 winners last time out against Huddersfield Giants, with club captain Sean O’Loughlin rolling back the years after putting in a superb display at the John Smith’s Stadium. They have already beaten the Red Devils twice this season, both in close encounters, and another win on Friday night will see them leapfrog Salford and could move as high as fourth in the Super League table.

Salford Red Devils

Salford are enjoying an excellent season under the guidance of head coach Ian Watson, who this week was named as an assistant coach to Wayne Bennett for the return of the Great Britain Lions tour this autumn. The Red Devils have won their last two league fixtures, which included an excellent 26-16 home win against Castleford Tigers last time out, with Jackson Hastings at his inspirational best. Salford will be out for revenge against Wigan and know a win could move them into fourth in the table as well as moving them two points clear of the Warriors.

 

SQUAD NEWS

Wigan Warriors

Wigan have named an unchanged 19-man squad from the side that won at Huddersfield last Friday, for the visit of Salford.

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However, they did part company with prop Taulima Tautai, who will return home to Australia following the conclusion of a club investigation into his drink-driving conviction.

Centre Dan Sarginson remains sidelined with a shoulder injury, with prop forward Ben Flower also missing out with a back injury.

Dom Manfredi and Tom Davies remain on the Warriors long-term injury list.

Wigan 19-man squad: Bullock, Burgess, Clubb, Escare, Farrell, Gildart, Greenwood, Hankinson, Hardaker, Isa, Leuluai, Marshall, Navarrete, O’Loughlin, Partington, Powell, Sammut, Smithies, Williams.

Salford Red Devils

New loanee signing Tui Lolohea comes straight into the squad, having signed from Leeds Rhinos on Wednesday, replacing fellow half-back Robert Lui, with Lui moving in the opposite direction to Headingley until the end of the season.

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Ben Nakubuwai and Ken Sio both return to the 19-man squad, replacing Adam Walker and former Wigan man Lee Mossop.

Salford 19-man squad: Bibby, Burke, Dudson, Evalds, Flanagan, Hastings, Inu, Johnson, Jones, Lannon, Lolohea, Lussick, McCarthy, Nakubuwai, Olpherts, Sa’u, Sio, Tomkins, Welham.

 

HEAD TO HEAD

Wigan have won both meetings between the sides this season, winning 30-22 in March and 30-26 in April, with both wins coming at the AJ Bell Stadium. George Williams scored a superb hat-trick in the Warriors victory against Salford in March, with Zak Hardaker touching down for a late score to edge out the Red Devils again in April.

The Warriors have won each of the last six Super League meetings with the Red Devils, although Salford’s last success against Wigan came in a 31-16 win at the DW Stadium back in May 2017.

 

KEY BATTLE

George Williams (Wigan) v Jackson Hastings (Salford)

Two of Super League’s finest talents go head-to-head on Friday night and the winner of this individual battle could also prove be the match-winner for their respective side.

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Williams may have made a slow start to the season but his finest performance in Super League this year did come against Salford back in March. He has 10 tries to his name as well as 12 try assists, which includes contributing to five tries against the Red Devils this season and now looks back to his very best as he looks to propel Wigan into the top four.

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His opposite number Hastings currently tops the try assists chart with 22 assists in just 19 Super League appearances this season, which includes assisting at least two tries in each of his last four games. The Australian has been a revelation at the club since arriving back in July 2018 and also has the most carries of any player in Super League, with 342, and is currently second in the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel standings. If he brings his ‘A game’ to the DW Stadium on Friday night, he will be difficult to stop.

 

THE IMPORTANT DETAILS

Date: Friday 28th June
Venue: DW Stadium
Kick-off: 7.45pm
Referee: Chris Kendall

 

WHO WILL WIN?

This is a tough game to predict, given the closeness of the previous two meetings between the sides this season. Level on points in the table and with both sides having won their recent fixtures, it should be a cracker at the DW Stadium on Friday night. Lui’s departure could impact the fluidity of Salford’s play and with Wigan returning to their best form in recent weeks, the Warriors could edge out the Red Devils for the third time this season. Wigan to win by seven points.

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