Salford Red Devils were unable to open their Super League campaign with a victory as Wigan Warriors ran out deserved 40-12 winners at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday evening.
Kris Welham and Niall Evalds crossed for The Red Devils, but the visitors were far superior in what was a clinical seven try display.
Oliver Gildart and Liam Marshall claimed a brace apiece while Tom Davies, Morgan Escare and Tony Clubb also crossed for the visitors.
However, it was The Red Devils who made the brighter start to the contest, it took just three minutes to open scoring as Gareth O’Brien’s grubber kick appeared to outwit the Warriors line, before Kris Welham picked up the loose ball and touched down under the posts, O’Brien successfully scored the resulting goal.
Wigan responded well and were rewarded for their efforts just eight minutes later as a superbly timed pass from Dan Sarginson resulted in Tom Davies going over in the corner, although Sam Tomkins’ conversion was unsuccessful.
The Warriors looked intent on making a real statement and they took the lead in the 16th minute when former Red Devils Oliver Gildart latched onto a low kick before sliding across the whitewash, Tomkins kicked his first goal of the contest.
Despite the margin, Salford responded well and were unfortunate not to have scored themselves when Gareth O’Brien broke clear, the move resulted in Greg Johnson eventually being found, however the winger was unable to capitalise on the opening and was subsequently pushed into touch by the Warriors’ defence.
This move appeared to rejuvenate The Devils, moments later they forced Wigan into their in-goal area after showing sheer resilience in defence throughout the set.
Unfortunately for the hosts, their good work was undone six minutes prior to the interval, Salford were temporarily reduced to 12 men as George Griffin’s tackle was adjudged to have been dangerous by referee Robert Hicks.
Wigan quickly picked up where they left off in the second period, three minutes into the half Liam Marshall broke down the wing before superbly executing a lofted kick over the back of the Salford backs, Morgan Escare scooped up the loose ball before crossing the whitewash relatively unchallenged.
Reds boss Ian Watson will be disappointed the start his side made to the half, a combination of lapses of concentration and individual errors prevented the hosts from building any real momentum when in attack as well as allowing Wigan to create numerous try-scoring opportunities.
The visitors continued to overhaul the Salford defence as they scored a remarkable four tries over an 11 minute period.
First, Sam Tomkins delivered a low kick, to which Liam Marshall latched onto before diving over, Tomkins added the extras to take the scoring up to 22-6.
Wigan demonstrated an excellent kicking game throughout and they extended their lead moments later when George Williams’ lofted kick deceived the entire Salford back-line and Marshall sprinted 30m to claim his second score of the contest.
Soon after, Marshall was heavily involved again, this time he turned provider as he timed his pass to his perfection and found the onrushing Gildart, who ran clear for the second occasion of the evening.
Remarkably, The Warriors weren’t finished there, Tony Clubb powered over in the 67th minute to inflict further misery on The Red Devils, Tomkins added the conversion to take the Warriors up to 40 points.
Salford’s determination was rewarded six minutes from time as Niall Evalds pulled off a fantastic finish in the corner to earn a much needed consolation try for, O’Brien again converted the extras to reduce the deficit to 28 points.
Salford Lineup: Evalds, Bibby, Welham, Sa’u, Johnson, Lui, O’Brien, Mossop, Wood, Tasi, Jones, Hauraki, McCarthy Interchanges: Burgess, Griffin, Littlejohn, Kopczak
Wigan Lineup: S. Tomkins, Davies, Sarginson, Gildart, Marshall, Williams, Powell, Flower, Leuluai, Clubb, J. Tomkins, Farrell, Sutton Interchanges: Escare, Isa, Tautai, Nuuausala
Salford Scorers: Tries- Welham (3’), Evalds (74’)
Goals- O’Brien (4’, 75’)
Wigan Scorers: Tries- Davies (11’), Gildart (16’, 63’), Escare (43’), Marshall (56’, 61’), Clubb (67’)
Goals- Tomkins (17’, 44’, 57’, 62’, 64’, 67’)
Man of the Match: Gareth O’Brien
Referee: R. Hicks
Touch Judges: J. McMullen, G. Jones
By Ryan Booth