Match report | Salford Red Devils 26 – 30 Wigan Warriors | Monday 22 April

Salford fell to a heart-breaking defeat at the hands of Wigan Warriors in a thrilling game on Easter Monday.

The home side lead the lead with 7 minutes left on the clock courtesy of tries from Walker, Griffin, Evalds and Lussick, but the current Betfred Super League Champions left it late to pick up the two points.

The Red Devils came into the Easter Monday clash at the AJ Bell riding the crest of wave following a superb win against Warrington on Good Friday. For the Warriors it was a case of aiming to right the wrongs of a disappointing derby day defeat at the hands of St Helens.


Head Coach Ian Watson shuffled his cards slightly for the second game in four days, the most notable changes seeing Josh Wood replace Rob Lui in the halves and Logan Tomkins starting at Hooker in place of Joey Lussick.

Having taken a number of casualties against Saints, Wigan Boss Adrian Lam was forced to call up a number of academy graduates, with Zak Hardaker moving into the centres.

The Warriors made a bright start to the game forcing a Salford error deep in their own territory, but the Red Devils defence stood firm on it’s goal line to see it out the set on 5th tackle.

The exchanges that followed saw the game develop into an arm wrestle with both teams looking to make inroads with the middle of the field.

It was the away side who would open the scoring with 8 minutes on the clock, with Wigan being gifted a repeat set on the Salford line following a penalty. The Warriors swung the ball out wide for Joe Burgess to finish acrobatically in the corner.

More points would follow for Betfred Super League champions as Hardaker added two from a penalty before Joe Bullock cashed in on an uncharacteristic gap in the Reds middle to score under the posts.

Following the disappointing start, Salford began to grow into the contest and started to look dangerous with Niall Evalds linking into the pivots nicely.

Possession would ultimately turn into points as a series of penalties gave the Red Devils good field position, and George Griffin hit a well angled crash ball to score from close range.

Wigan responded well to conceding and were quickly on the Salford line, but a lack of composure and some good Red Devils defence kept them at bay for the remainder of the first half.

Half time: Salford Red Devils 6 – 14 Wigan Warriors

Salford will have felt that were right in the game at half time, and 5 minutes after the break they had an even bigger foothold.

Jackson Hastings found space in the Wigan defence and Niall Evalds ran a superb support line to score under the sticks and, with the conversion, reduce the deficit to two points.

The to-and-throw nature of the game continued after the Salford try however, and Wigan re-established their 8 point advantage when Joe Greenwood crashed over the line from short range to bring the scores to 12-20.

Then, controversy. Dan Murray, and the entire South Stand at the AJ Bell thought the Prop Forward had scored for Salford, but he was adjudged by the referee to have lost the ball in the act of scoring.

Just minutes later however, Adam Walker was not to be denied. Wigan conceded a string of penalties and the second-row was on hand to muscle over next to the sticks. Limbs in the South Stand, two point ball game. Game on.

The crowd could sense the shift in momentum and all of sudden the game had turned into a real firebrand affair.

The Red Devils continued to play on the front foot and finally hit the front for the first time of the afternoon when Joey Lussick scored with one of his now trademark snipes from Dummy-Half.

Inu added a penalty goal before Wigan hit back through Greenwood. With the game poised on a knife-edge, Hardaker hit the post with the conversion to keep Salford in the lead.

Just moments later however, Hardaker would make up for the miss. Wigan kept the ball alive on 5th tackle, and the make-shift centre found some space on the right edge to put Wigan back in front.

The final 3 minute of the game was no less frantic than the previous 77, but the Warriors held on to pick up the win, in a game that ultimately could have gone either way.

The defeat, and results elsewhere means that Salford finish the Easter period in 7th place. The Red Devils will be looking to get back to winning ways when they travel to London Broncos on Saturday.

Salford tries: George Griffin (27), Niall Evalds (45), Adam Walker (55), Joey Lussick (64).

Salford conversions: Krisnan Inu (28,45,56,65,69)

 

Wigan tries: Burgess (8), Bullock (15), Greenwood (47,72), Hardaker (77)

Wigan conversions: Hardaker (10,13,16,50,78)

 

Salford Red Devils: Evalds, Bibby, Inu, Sa’u, Olpherts, Wood, Hastings, Walker, Tomkins, Dudson, Jones, Griffin, Burke, Lussick, Murray, Nakubuwai, McCarthy

Wigan Warriors: Escare, Marshall, Hardaker, Gildart, Burgess, Williams, Shorrocks, Flowers, Leuluai, Bullock, Isa, Greenwood, Partington, Tautaui, Smithies, Hankinson, Bourough

 

Referee: Benjamin Thawler

Attendance: 4,017

Man of the Match: Adam Walker