Graham Holroyd's drop-goal, four minutes from time, ended
Salford's four-match losing sequence. But, perhaps more significantly, it
sent Wigan slipping to a third successive away defeat after losses at
Bradford and London.
Wigan had teenage prop Ricky Bibey sent off in only his second senior
appearance 10 minutes after replacing Neil Cowie as a half-time
Bibey was dismissed for an incident which left Michael Hancock
prostrate and he now faces a mandatory 15-day lay-off with concussion.
However, Bibey's premature departure was no excuse for Wigan succumbing
to a defeat on a par with Bradford's shock reverse at Wakefield last
Wigan led 22-12 at half-time and coach Frank Endacott admitted: "It was
the worst result I could have imagined, and I am in a state of shock."
Holroyd was outstanding as the scrum-half general in a side lacking six
regulars which made the magnitude of Wigan's defeat even more
Holroyd failed with two conversion attempts, including one from
straight in front of the posts, but landed a touchline goal to Nick
Pinkney's hat-trick try which levelled the scores at 30-30.
Holroyd's line-kicking was also of the highest order and he showed his
coolness with the drop-goal winner after Matthew Johns failed with two
late one-pointer attempts for Wigan.
Holroyd had now kicked 499 career goals but admitted: "None have been
as important as that drop goal."
Wigan boasted the best defence in Super League but it was breached five
times with Martin Offiah and Hancock going over before Pinckney's fist
hat-trick for the club in the second half.
Adrian Lam was at the hub of most Wigan attacks in the first half,
scoring a try and engineering another for David Furner.
Wingers Brett Dallas and David Hodgson also scored long-range tries
with Andy Farrell kicking seven goals from seven attempts.
However, few people would begrudge Salford this victory, their first
against Wigan in eight attempts.
Maloney failed to add to his 11-try tally which has taken him to the
top of the Super League charts this season but his partnership with
Pinkney played a major role in the victory.
Mel Meninga, the former Australian Test captain was last week linked
with the Wigan coaching job despite Endacott having 18 months of his
contract to run.
The stories may have been mischievous from sources Down Under but this
defeat increases the pressure on the affable Endacott.