Any hope that last seasons struggle was a one off
has been extinguished tonight as Wigan went down miserably to
Salford on a snow covered Willows pitch.
1:12am and I've just got in from seeing us being
thoroughly outclassed by Salford. It's as simple as that. No
excuses. Salford had better ideas than us. Which wasn't difficult
to be fair as we had none.
I built this up as Wigan's better attack against Salford's better
defence. Well Wigan's attacking game just didn't turn up. I lost
count the amount of times that Salford really tested us with a
bomb in the air. Not once did Wigan try this. Every one of our
fifth tackle kicks were chips into the corner which generally
turned into nothing.
After the match coach Millward fumed: "We had 77% completion rate
in the first half and 42% in the second half, and that tells you a
bit of a story."
Thats the story of this club since Andy Farrell left. Simply no
To me our boys turned up and thought - oh god theres snow on the pitch,
we don't want to play in this. The Salford lads revelled in the
Millward added that "(Salford) did everything better than us. They
ran harder, they tackled harder and they chased harder than we
did. And that sums it all up really.
So after being in doubt all afternoon due to the
snow the match was given the go ahead after a 5pm pitch
Millward recalled Danny Orr and left out Sean
O'Loughlin as they didn't want to risk his old knee injury on the
hard pitch. Kevin Brown replaced him at loose forward.
Salford welcomed back winger John Wilshere after a one-match
suspension, while Luke Robinson was back in the side to face his
old club after recovering from shin splints.
Wigan had started all there previous two games well but not
this one. It was the Reds who opened the scoring with just eight
minutes on the clock, as former Warrior Luke Robinson hoisted a
bomb towards Wigan winger Mark Calderwood into the in-goal area
and Simon Finnigan touched down.
Another ex Wigan player David Hodgson kicked the conversion
from the sideline, and added a penalty three minutes later to
extend the home side's advantage to 8-0.
Wigan hit back with a similar try to Salford's. Dennis Moran
hit a bomb in the air which was fumbled by John Wilshere into the
hands of Danny Orr, whose long ball out right was touched on by
Mark Calderwood into the hands of Pat Richards who scored.
Danny Tickle's conversion attempt hit the post before Hodgson's
restart went out on the full. However Wigan failed to capitalise
on that error from the man we used to call dodgy.
Wigan had a good spell of pressure at this point. Props Iafeta
Paleaaesina and Scott Logan both went close before Brett Dallas
was denied by a great tackle from Wilshere.
Wigan went on to force two drop outs but our last tackle
options were poor and Salford's strong defence survived.
So after all that pressure Wigan fell to a sucker punch three
minutes before half time. The impressive Andy Coley crashed over
in the right-hand corner for a try which Hodgson converted. 14-4
to Salford at the break.
Wigan came out second half fired up after a clear half time
rollicking. They knew they needed the first try of the second half
and got it after 7 minutes.
On a last tackle, wide on the right, Moran ran down the short
side and fed Harrison Hansen, who helped the ball onto Richards,
and the Australian kicked intelligently inside for Orr to score.
Tickle's goal made the score 14-10 and the game was ours for
the taking. Wigan threw everything at Salford but again our last
tackle options were poor. Mark Calderwood was particularly
impressive in making four consecutive tackles from the play the
ball, but sadly we saw little of him in attack.
Wigan had thrown so much at Salford it was a killer blow when
they scored in the 62nd Minute. John Wilshere squeezed in at the
corner. I felt he was in touch but with the snow masking the pitch
markings it was a difficult call from referee and touch judge.
Giving benefit to the attack side is only fair, the try was given.
Hodgson missed the conversion.
20-10 down with 16 minutes to go, its not game over is it? But
to Wigan that try seemed to resign the players to defeat. Reason
why was that there was no lift in the huddle behind the sticks
whilst the conversion was being made. No one was talking. No
inspiration, no one standing up and being the teams leader. Bryan
Fletcher will be that voice I hope, when he is fit. Dennis Moran
was captain on this night.........apparently.
Wigan were already resigned to defeat when the game was settled
eight minutes from time. Wilshere jinked through magically
on the last tackle and kicked through for Andrew Dunemann to
follow up score.
Hodgson landed his easiest kick of the night to make the score
24-10, and went over from 40 yards in the dying stages to round
off a super night for the jubilant Reds.
The fact Hodgson scored the last try was an extra kick in the