Well I've got to be honest I
was wary about this match because I expected Salford to come and
have a right go at us and cause us problems.
Truth was apart
from the first 20 minutes when they benefited from a early 4-0
penalty count off French referee Thierry Alibert they offered very
little going forward all game. Wigan defended with ease and in
attack, without ever sparkling, they completed sets more often
Salford in contrast didn't complete sets that well - at least
two kick attempts going into touch on the full summed that up.
The weather was in stark contrast to our last home game against
Hull KR, which was played in torrential rain. It was a beautiful
warm night with the sun having dipped away sufficiently to not
cause any problems on the field the play.
Wigan came out and scored after just 2 minutes. Thomas Leuluai
passed to Gareth Hock who stepped past Salford full back John
Wilshere for the try. Pat Richards converted to make it 6-0.
It continued to be all Wigan possession early doors and Salford
must have taken great heart, just like Warrington last week, from
the scoreline being just 6-0.
Even more so when they equalised on 11 minutes. A penalty
marched they up field for their first attack of the game and Ray
Cashmere got an offload away to Richard Myler. He found Luke
Adamson who in turn sent Jordan Turner over for the four pointer
which became six when Wilshere converted. Superb effort of keeping
the ball alive which levelled the scores at 6-6.
Now I know I do these reports from a Wigan point of view but
for me that was the last real attack Salford had on Wigan's line.
They had brief moments after that but no sustained pressure on us
and a disticnt lack of quality was evident. I do recall a drop out
forced in the second half but that came to nothing.
To be fair both sides defended well and it wasn't a case of it
being all out Wigan attack but we always had the slight edge in
the territorial battle.
Wigan regained the lead on 26 minutes with the penalty count
beginning to even out a bit. George Carmont somehow got an offload
away to send Richards over for an easy try in the corner. Pat
couldn't convert but that try would send Wigan into half time with
a 10-6 lead. Wigan did have two chances late into the first half
to increase that lead but errors cost them close to the line.
Couldn't help feeling that we might be punished in the second half
for leading only by four points when we'd played a lot better than
As poor as Salford had been the first try of the second half
was always going to be crucial - especially with Wigan's
record of losing tight games at the JJB this season. It almost
came for Salford when a massive scramble in the in goal saw Wigan
just about get the ball dead. The drop out came to nothing from
that after nine minutes in the second half Wigan got a penalty
given bang in front and Pat kicked in to make it 12-6. Some
distain amongst Wigan fans for not going for the try but I was
saying - how often have we been in a position at home this season
where the opposition has to score twice to win? Well twice is the
answer and we won both of those games - so a correct call for me.
Ok hindsight helped prove that when four minutes later Pat
collected his second try of the game. Leuluai, Sean O'Loughlin and
Carmont were all involved in helping Pat squeeze over to make it
16-6 after he converted off the touchline.
Two score second half leads always look formidable against
Super League opposition and so it proved. The Mancunian side never
gave up but in truth they didn't look like a side that could come
The match was sealed with 10 minutes to go.
Mike McIlorum went close to scoring but
quick hands got Richards in for his hatrick - his second in Wigan
colours after a trio of tries against Hull in May 2007.
That was game up and Wigan could have gone further ahead after
a harsh looking double movement given against Sam Tomkins but
Gareth Hock got over for his second to make the final score 28-6.
In truth I think this flattered Salford but a good nights work for
Wigan which puts them into Sunday's Semi Final draw. Long wait
till those Semi's now so it's time we start to buck up in the
league - hopefully with a repeat performance next week when
Salford revisit the JJB in the league.