Whilst Wigan did their level best to
chuck this game away late, it shouldn't really take away
from another excellent away performance.
By excellent I mean that for the second
week in a row they came on top in a good battle. Salford,
like Castleford, were not lacking any effort and this Red
Devils side in particular had some strong defence that
Wigan had to break down.
Wigan managed to break it by massively
exposing the defensive weakness of Justin Carney. He has
massacred Josh Charnley in defence whilst in Castleford
colours last season but this was a total role reversal.
I do wonder though how different the
game might have been had Salford gone 12-4 up with a
penalty shot on 30 minutes. That miss and Wigan's
subsequent winning of a drop out from a drop out (it might
have been a 20 metre one but I can't recall seeing that
before) had seen a possible 12-4 quickly becoming 10-10.
The opening twenty minutes was strong on
defence by both sides I thought. Wigan though found the
lead with a beautiful little dink kick from George Williams
being finished by Josh Charnley in the left corner.
Conversion was missed, so only 4-0.
Salford hit back with a scrappy try from
Michael Dobson for 4-4 but this had come after Wigan had
lost both Greg Burke and Sam Powell to concussion tests
after they had collided with each other making a tackle.
Powell would soon return but Burke's night proved to be
done. Ben Flower was also in the wars with a massive shiner
under the right eye that was looking akin Blake Green at
Old Trafford in 2013.
Losing Powell temporarily meant Wigan
had to reshuffle Williams to Hooker, a mixture of Sarginson
and Sam Tomkins at half back and then obviously movement in the centres as
well and it stifled us for a while. ]
The home side took
advantage to claim a second try. Robert Lui put a nothing
bomb up but Wigan let it bounce and after Sarginson's leap
at the ball proved unsuccessful it bounced kindly for Craig
Kopczak to send Dobson under the posts for his second. He
also converted for 10-4.
That was on 26 minutes and Wigan were on
the ropes a little here. Which perhaps makes Salford's
decision to go for goal on the half hour even more bizarre.
Especially given the fact it wasn't a gift two, it was our
wide on the right and that miss was soon compounded
As long as the penalty goes dead, if its missed, you get the ball back from a twenty metre
line drop out. That's the theory anyway but amazingly Wigan
belted the ball so hard that it ended up going out for a
drop out the other end. Robert Lui was claiming that he had
his foot out to make it dead, and Salford fans were riled by
this apparent injustice, but I think he totally failed to understand the rules
because this was not an in normal play kick but a drop out.
I'm not convinced he executed his idea anyway to be fair.
From that drop out, Wigan quickly found
a try with a nice finish from Ryan Sutton from a Williams
grubber, that Smith converted for 10-10, and that try
settled Wigan back down in the battle.
Powell returned as well to help and to
end the half Wigan kicked a drop goal right on the hooter
for an 11-10 lead. Wonderful composure from Smith who was
well aware of the time of the clock.
The second half started with Wigan
conceding a couple of penalties to give Salford
opportunities but defence was strong at this point and
eventually Wigan got a try up the other end with hands
between Smith and Sarginson getting Charnley over for his
second. Smith missed the kick but 15-10 was now the lead.
Wigan then kicked a penalty on 58
minutes for 17-10, which was a no brainer, but I felt that
this spell in the game was needing a further try from Wigan
to be a true reflection of the dominance we had now found.
It eventually came on 64 minutes with a
great burst from Sutton setting up the ground work before
his offload left the Salford defence scrambling
desperately. Smith took the off load left and some great
footwork from Sarginson got him round Junior Sa'u and then
his dummy committed Justin Carney and allowed Sarge to slip
Charnley in for the hat-trick. Better from Sarginson that,
lovely stuff. Smith hit a big conversion as well to make it
At this point your remembering last
week's sweat after gaining a three score lead and hoping
history wouldn't repeat, but sadly it did.
Salford rallied because Wigan coughed up the ball cheaply.
First Taulima Tautai's error was converted into a try for
Josh Jones and then Lee Mossop's knock on saw Daniel Vidot
score. Absolutely terrible game management from Wigan, when
will they learn? Michael Dobson had limped off, so Robert
Lui was on kicking and he hit the first for 23-16 but
missed the second for 23-20.
that last one and thankfully so because the way the ending
panned out you'd have backed them to get a drop goal to
level had they been in that kind of situation.
In the end, time defeated Salford and Wigan were left
hanging on to a result they should have been far more
comfortable in earning. They did deserve the win though
when all is said and done and it just shows how vital the
drop goal late in the first half and the second half
penalty goal proved to be. Also the turnaround from what
could of been 12-4 to 10-10 within two minutes was huge.
So, a good battling win that takes us six points inside the
top four. A massive margin already even though we have 13
more matches to the play offs.
Wigan fans are beginning to enjoy their away days again
also. The cheering of every tackle on one huge defensive
effort said as much and this win means that we have already
been more successful away in 2016, earning ten points from
seven away matches, than we were in the entire 2015 season
when we earned just nine points from fourteen games.