Wigan Warriors claimed a fourth straight win in Super League, for the first time this season, as they defeated Salford Red Devils 28-12 at the DW Stadium. The win moves the Warriors up to fourth in the Super League table as the race for a play-off spot intensifies. Here’s how the action unfolded.
Wigan claimed their third victory against Salford this season, despite falling behind to an early Krisnan Inu penalty.
Chris Hankinson drew the Warriors level before Liam Marshall and Joe Greenwood tries put Wigan in command.
Derrell Olpherts responded for Salford, with his eighth try of the season, on the stroke of half-time only for Zak Hardaker and Marshall to go over early in the second-half.
Kris Welham found a gap to score a late consolation for the visitors before Oliver Partington put some gloss on the scoreline for Wigan when he went over as the final hooter sounded.
The win moves Wigan into the top-four in Super League with Salford dropping down to sixth, but it wasn’t always plain sailing for the Warriors on Friday evening.
Proceedings started badly for the Warriors when captain Sean O’Loughlin limped off after just three minutes with what appeared to be a calf injury.
Inu then provided the game’s opening points, with his penalty kick on five minutes edging Salford into the lead, after the Warriors were penalised for offside.
Hankinson levelled the game up for Wigan, on 20 minutes, with a penalty of his own after Thomas Leuluai was caught with a late challenge.
Just four minutes later, after a big hit from Sam Powell forced Olpherts to knock-on, inside his own half, Marshall went over in the corner for the game’s first try, after being found by the quick hands of Hankinson who failed to add the extras.
The Warriors struck again on 32 minutes after Greenwood managed to ground a trademark George Williams grubber kick on the left edge. This time it was Hardaker who failed to convert, with Hankinson suffering a knock in the lead up to the try.
Debutant Tui Lolohea then produced a magnificent high bomb causing Marshall and Hardaker to crash into each other and knock the ball on.
A super pass out of the back of the resulting scrum from Jackson Hastings then sent Olpherts over in the corner, in the final seconds of the first-half. Inu was wayward from the kicking tee to send Wigan into a four-point lead at the interval.
However, the Warriors struck again three minutes into the second-half when Jarrod Sammut, making his 100th Super League appearance, made an excellent break before finding Hardaker with a reverse kick in-field which the full-back touched down underneath the sticks with Hankinson adding the extras.
Marshall took the game out of Salford’s reach with his second try of the evening on 50 minutes, after escaping tackles from Welham and Hastings, with Hankinson again adding the extras with a superb conversion from the touchline.
Former Wigan man Gil Dudson was then caught by a high shot, with 10 minutes remaining, leading to a brawl between both sets of players which resulted in Romain Navarrete and Dudson both being sent to the sin-bin by referee Chris Kendall.
With three minutes left to play, Welham scored a consolation try for the Red Devils after bursting through a rare gap in the Wigan defence, with Hastings providing yet another try assist with Inu kicking the extras.
Wigan would score the game’s final try however, when Partington grounded a lovely kick from Powell underneath the posts, right on the final hooter, with Hankinson kicking his fourth goal of the match to punish an error-strewn Salford performance.
Marshall back to his best
Liam Marshall has struggled for tries in Super League this season, managing just four scores in 11 league appearances before tonight. However, a pair of tries against Salford will do his confidence the world of good with his second try a particularly pleasing effort, showing excellent strength to evade the attention of both Kris Welham and Jackson Hastings to ground the ball over the try line.
O’Loughlin injury scare
After producing a man of the match display in Wigan’s 38-22 victory at Huddersfield Giants a week ago, the Warriors will be deeply concerned by club captain Sean O’Loughlin limping off after just three minutes against Salford. The 36-year-old has struggled with persistent injury problems over the last couple of seasons and, as we head towards the tail end of the season, the Warriors won’t want to lose him for too long.
Lolohea finding his feet
Salford’s new half-back signing Tui Lolohea may not have helped his side to a win against Wigan but he certainly gave the travelling Red Devils supporters plenty to purr about. His tantalising bomb helped create his side’s opening try of the match whilst also displaying some excellent footwork at one stage, beating four defenders, and was unlucky to have been adjudged to have knocked-on when attempting to ground the ball.
Hastings the assist king
The Australian moved further clear at the top of the Super League try assists chart after setting-up both of his side’s tries against Wigan. An excellent booming pass out wide, out of the back of a scrum, helped send Derrell Olpherts over before then finding Kris Welham late on in the contest. He may have been on the losing side but when Salford score a try, the chances are, Hastings will be the provider.
Wigan Warriors 28
Tries: Marshall 2, Greenwood, Hardaker, Partington
Goals: Hankinson 4
Drop Goals: n/a
Salford Red Devils 12
Tries: Olpherts, Welham
Goals: Inu 2
Drop Goals: n/a
Wigan Warriors: Hardaker, Marshall, Hankinson, Gildart, Burgess, Williams, Leuluai, Clubb, Powell, Navarrete, Isa, Greenwood, O’Loughlin
Interchanges: Smithies, Sammut, Partington, Bullock
Salford Red Devils: Evalds, Bibby, Inu, Welham, Olpherts, Lolohea, Hastings, Nakabuwai, Tomkins, Dudson, Jones Lannon, McCarthy
Interchanges: Burke, Flanagan, Lussick, Sio