Salford Red Devils fell to defeat to current Betfred Super League champions Wigan Warriors at the AJ Bell Stadium in their second, and final pre-season, game of 2019.
Debutant Ken Sio put Salford ahead early on however three unanswered tries from Liam Farrell, Sam Powell and Tom Davies gave Wigan a twelve-point lead at the break.
The Red Devils again opened the scoring in the second half through Joey Lussick and inched closer to the Warriors thanks to Jake Bibby’s try. However, Morgan Escare and Zak Hardaker would cross to ensure a Wigan victory. Derrell Olpherts did notch a late consolation.
Sio – who joined in the off-season – took just four minutes to open his Salford account as he latched on to a low kick to the corner from Jackson Hastings. Ed Chamberlain’s conversion fell short of the sticks.
Wigan took their time getting into the game, but Farrell managed to spin away from three Salford defenders to score before Hardaker’s conversion put the visitors in front. Powell would scoot under the Red Devils defence shortly after to extend the lead. Hardaker again converted.
With half-time approaching, Wigan would cross again as a looping George Williams pass found Davies on the wing to further the Warriors’ lead heading into the interval.
It was again Salford who started the quicker in the second half, however. Gil Dudson went close for the Red Devils but a quick play-the-ball on the Wigan line allowed Lussick to throw a nice dummy before burrowing his way under the Warriors defence. Chamberlain added the extras to put Salford just one score behind.
Evalds – who had now moved into the halves in place of Jackson Hastings – was causing issues for the Wigan defence and it was his ball to Bibby which created Salford’s third. The winger adjusted his run well, stepped inside the onrushing Wigan defenders and held three of them off to plant the ball down. Lussick – who was now on goal kicking duties in place of an injured Chamberlain – hit both the post and bar meaning the Red Devils still trailed.
Wigan came back at the Red Devils and would score two tries in eight minutes down the left-hand flank. Escare was the beneficiary of the first break before Hardaker would get on the end of the second in his first game for the Warriors.
In the closing stages Salford would score once more to narrow the deficit. Evalds and Sa’u linked up well before the latter flicked the ball out of the back to find Olpherts who pulled off a fantastic finish in the corner.
Salford: Evalds, Sio, Sa’u, Chamberlain, Bibby; Lui, Hastings; Mossop, Lussick, Murray, Jones, Turgut, Burke.
Interchanges: Griffin, McCarthy, Nakubuwai, Flanagan, Olpherts, Dudson, Davies-Aspey, Wellington.
Wigan: Hardaker, Marshall, Sarginson, Gildart, Davies; Williams, Sammut; Flower, Powell, Clubb, Isa, Farrell, Hamlin.
Interchanges: Greenwood, Navarette, Partington, Bullock, Escare, Shorrocks, Tautai, Byrne, Hankinson, Marshall, Ganson, Mullen.
Salford Tries: Sio (4’), Lussick (45’), Bibby (51’), Olpherts (75’).
Salford Goals: Chamberlain (46’),
Wigan Tries: Farrell (17’), Powell (27’), Davies (36’), Escare (61’), Hardaker (69’)
Wigan Goals: Hardaker (18’, 28’, 62’, 70’)
Referee: Liam Moore.