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Match Preview: Salford (A) - 1st February 2013 at Salford City Stadium
Posted by cherryandwhite on January 31 2013 - 17:06

Salford City Reds v Wigan Warriors - Super League 18 Round 1.
Friday 1st February 2013. Kick Off 8:00pm at City of Salford Stadium.

Match Preview

Well the most pleasing thing going into the season opener against Salford is that we have opposition to play. The takeover of the Salford club went through today and immediately they announced signings like former Wigan player Martin Gleeson.

I'm intrigued though as to how Salford will perform in this match. Whilst you would expect it to be a big night at the stadium. with them entering a new exciting era, they also have a young squad that you would expect to be very undercooked considering the pre season they've had.

I know the friendly between the two sides a fortnight ago finished 34-16, but two late tries really did flatter that for Salford. They looked particularly weak in defence and it's up to Wigan to get off the mark early and really pressure this team.

If you think back to the first match of last season against Huddersfield, Wigan deservedly lost in the end but, in the first twenty minutes we battered their line. A fair reflection would have been us getting at least two tries in front, but the fact we ended up without a score visibly lifted the Giants side and gave them something to fight for during the rest of the game. Wigan can't fall into the same trap here. Get off to a good start and let's finish this side off early!

I mentioned in my Warrington match report that the pack is my big concern going into this season. We really struggled to find any go forward in that match. Obviously Salford are no Warrington, but we clear as day are lacking an experienced pack leader. We don't have a Morley or Peacock type and that could be why we fall short of finals again this year.

What we will need as this season goes on is for the likes of Lee Mossop or Liam Farrell to now take that further step up and become formidable forwards. They've done it in patches, behind experienced forwards like Andy Coley and Jeff Lima, but now those guys have gone and its up to them to now lead the way. I also think Mike McIlorum needs to jump up another level in performance and become more formidable at number 9.

In the back line, I don't worry so much about the personnel, more whether they will get the pack dominance to put them in the position to cause damage. Sam Tomkins, Josh Charnley and Pat Richards will provide a good chunk of tries, regardless of who plays in the centres.

You would guess that the key to our whole season is how much Blake Green and Matty Smith produce for us. If I'm honest I have my doubts about their quality being good enough for Wigan but I appreciate that they need to be given time to form a partnership and we shouldn't judge too hastily. Kicking game is key for me. I desperately want to see Wigan cause problems on the sixth tackle this season. Leeds and Warrington reached both finals last year and for me it was because they had players, in Sinfield and Briers, who put the shits up defenders consistently on the last tackle. We didn't have that, Saints didn't have that. That was the difference between us reaching two finals and not doing as far as I'm concerned.

For the sport as a whole, 2013 is a massive year with the World Cup coming at the end of it. This being the case makes it very disappointing for me that we go into it without a sponsor for Super League. This fact should be a total embarrassment to all at the RFL. It reflects awfully badly on our sport, whichever way you look at it.

That said, the appointment of Brian Barwick as RFL chairman is a great move. He has the experience of not only being a former chief executive of the Football Association but he was a former head of sport at both the BBC and ITV.

My hope there is that his broadcasting background can help us sort the mess that is the Rugby League season out by the time the next broadcasting deal comes round. We have gone far too far up the backsides of the television broadcasters in my opinion and for me this is no longer to our benefit.

If you look back at Rugby League history, the structure of seasons was that their was always something to play for throughout. We always had the Lancashire Cup towards the start of the year and the Challenge Cup towards the back end. Over time the BBC 2 Floodlit and Regal Trophies were added to the middle part of the season.

When Super League came in, although the County Cups and Regal Trophies went, the structure still remained. We had the Challenge Cup early in the season and the play offs to aim for at the back end.

These days we just have a complete mess. The Challenge Cup is now a competition of two parts. You might as well call Rounds 4 and 5 qualifying rounds because the two months between those rounds and the Quarter Finals makes a total mockery of the competition.

Not only that, the cup rounds in July and August I think destroy the race for the play offs. How can you build up momentum if when your in a playing, week off, playing, week off, playing, playing, week off type of routine.

Then you have the Cup Final which is played far too close to the play offs. We experienced it in 2011 and the wallet struggles to cope with a cup final then having to fork for play off tickets on top. God help us if we ever end up with a Challenge Cup Replay situation. They are still scheduled you know!

All that and I haven't even mentioned the top 8 play off structure. I don't really need to mention it because the crowds in the play offs speak for themselves. They all drop off significantly and the fact this happens when our sport is heading towards the peak of its season is not a good reflection on our game. I can only assume that Sky Sports pushed for this because what you would hope to see is some new fresh and exciting ideas to halt those poor crowds, but yet the RFL seem happy with it, probably because Sky are! That depresses me to be honest. They are awful to attend and actually are not very exciting at all until you reach the Grand Final.

In a nutshell what I'm trying to say is our game is weighting too much of the good parts of the season into too small a timeframe. The current top 8 structure and cup scheduling really makes February to July a nonsense. With a couple of favourable cup draws you can afford to plod along and hang around in a good position without needing to hit top gear. St Helens are a classic example. They haven't beaten us in the early part of a season for three years, yet have hardly seemed punished for that. They never seemed to be the way when we had the old top 5 or even top 6 structures. Every derby seemed to matter a hell of a lot, but that is clearly not the case these days. Also, if we have had top 5 play offs and thus Leeds, of the last two seasons for example, had to sweat all season on making that top 5, do you think they've have had the energy to win those two back to back titles?

Anyway I'll be accused on being on my regular season is a waste of time agenda again  lol, so I shall shut up for now and see what Friday produces. I am actually more excited for this season that I thought I would be, but to be honest its more for the World Cup at the end of it than anything else. One thing is for sure, with Warrington to come in Week 2, I'm not sure Wigan can afford to lose this one, but I don't expect it to be easy! See you there!

19 Man Squads

IN:l Greg Burke, Anthony Gelling, Blake Green, Mike McIlorum, Paul Prescott, Iain Thornley, Scott Taylor, Sam Powell
OUT:l George Carmont, Brett Finch, Thomas Leuluai, Harrison Hansen, Gareth Hock, Jeff Lima, Epalahame Lauaki, Jack Murphy

Sam Tomkins, Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, Jack Hughes, Pat Richards, Blake Green, Matty Smith, Mike McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Liam Farrell, Sean O'Loughlin, Ben Flower, Iain Thornley, Paul Prescott, Gil Dudson, Scott Taylor, Anthony Gelling, Sam Powell, Greg Burke

Match Referee

James Child (Dewsbury) - Age 29
First Pro Game: Gateshead 54 Workington 6 - 17th April 2006
First Super League Game: Wakefield 30 Catalans 10 - 15th March 2009
First Wigan Game: Wigan 38 Crusaders 6 - 5th April 2010

Wigan's Record when this referee is appointed

Wigan have Won 12 and Lost 2 from 14 appointments.

Other Officials

Video Referee:l

Steve Ganson


Warren Turley, Rob Webb

In Goal Judges:l

Jamie Callaghan, Gary Towey

Reserve Referee:l

James Ashton

Time Keeper:l

Ian Ollerton

Match Commissioner:l

Bob Connolly

Current Super League 18 League Positions

  Team P W D L F A Diff Pts
9th Salford City Reds 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0
14th Wigan Warriors 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0

All Time League Head to Head Record including Play Offs

Overall Played 199 Wigan 140 Wins Salford 54 Wins 5 Draws
At Salford Played 100 Wigan 57 Wins Salford 39 Wins 4 Draws

Super League Era Head to Head Record including Play Offs

Overall Played 31 Wigan 27 Wins Salford 4 Wins 0 Draws
At Salford Played 16 Wigan 13 Wins Salford 3 Wins 0 Draws

Ticket Details

Stand ConAdultsiors Oaps/Students Under 16s

North Stand (Terrace)

£22 £17 £12

*£2 advance savings available at Wigan Ticket Office until 4pm Friday

UK TV Coverage

Try Highlights Sunday 11:30pm
Free to Air Highlights Monday 11:35pm (Regional)
Free to Air Highlights Tuesday 1:30pm (National)

Radio Commentary

Live Full Commentary of this match will be carried on BBC Manchester (95.1FM), BBC 5 Live Sports Extra (National DAB Digital) and Wigan TV (subscription only). 102.4 Wish FM will not be broadcasting this match Live due to commercial radio not being accommodated for at Salford.

Weather Forecast

Heavy Afternoon rain should clear for Kick Off.

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