Last week we watched these
two play basking in the sunshine, this week it was a cold, cold
night with a blustery wind making it feel more March than June.
But Wigan got off to a hot start scoring four tries in the opening
15 minutes. The first came after just three minutes. Thomas
Leuluai broke through and George Carmont finished off. Pat
Richards converted to make it 6-0.
In the match preview this week I commented on our poor last
tackle options but the second try came from a neat kick from Sean
O'Loughlin. Attacking down the right he dinked a neat kick which
bounced kindly for Amos Roberts who passed inside for Tim Smith to
claim his first try since August last year against Wakefield.
Richards converted to make it 12-0 in 5 minutes.
Wigan just kept hammering at Salford's line and after forcing a
drop out. That came after a Leuluai kick was almost touched down
by Carmont. From the drop out it was Carmont who got Richards away
down the left and he touched down to make it 16-0 but he couldn't
convert off the touchline.
Then it was Mark Riddell who scored and this try was
embarrassing. It was pat-a-cake defending from the visitors and
Riddell eased through to score close to the posts and Richards
conversion made it 22-0 after 15 minutes.
So a fantastic start from Wigan which had seen some excellent
attacking play but we couldn't keep it up after that. Maybe it was
coincidence but the introduction of Stuart Fielden and Feka
Paleaaesina saw us step down a gear rather than up.
Also I think it's fair to say we had a hefty weight of
possession in our favour early door, highlighted by us forcing
four drop outs first half, and once it evened out Salford competed
well. Sadly for them it came too late, the game was lost.
They did hit back on 20 minutes after receiving a penalty.
Malcolm Alker broke through so soft Wigan defence which eventually
saw Luke Swain score despite Wigan scrambling back well. John
Wilshere converted to make it 22-6.
At this point I'm thinking we've started well but another try
for Salford would waste all that early effort. Salford had a
couple of attempts at Wigan's line but we managed to hang on and
perhaps crucially in the context of the match Pat Richards claimed
a second try late in the half. It was a simple ball swung out wide
and he walked in the corner. Richards was attacking the wing
defended by Salford's Wigan loanee Darrell Goulding and he had a
busy night in defence. Richards nailed a conversion off the
touchline to make it 28-6 at the break.
Wigan's discipline had been superb first half but the second
half was a stark contrast. Ian Smith went from anonymous to
whistle happy and perhaps an early second half barney between
Gareth Hock and Malcolm Alker forced his hand? He didn't shuffle
his cards but Hock was the man to be penalised but it came to
nothing for the Reds.
9 minutes into the second half though they gave themselves
hope. Richard Myler put a bomb up which was plucked out the air by
Mark Henry. Wilshere converted to make it 28-12.
Salford sense a comeback and had another good spell attacking
Wigan's line but our defence held pretty firm.
But Wigan should have had a further try when Amos Roberts
touched down diving in the corner. The touch judge stuck his flag
up but most of the East Stand had a perfect view to see that he
touched it down before taking the flag out.
It didn't matter though because Wigan put any comeback beyond
doubt 11 minutes from time. O'Loughlin, who was probably my man of
the match, broke through and sent Harrison Hansen over for his
third try of the campaign. Richards converted to make it 34-12.
The game was over but Salford scored the games last try with
Malcolm Alker touching down with a minute to go. Wilshere
converted to make it 34-18 which after the first 15 minutes was a
bit disappointing from our point of view. Shaun McCrae says
himself below that we would have been entitled to put 50-60 points
past them but, as we seem to have done all season, we make our
performances harder work than perhaps they should be.
Anyway the win takes us into the top eight and lets hope we can
hammer Celtic next weekend despite the absence of Hock and
O'Loughlin. Ahead of a week off that would be a perfect tonic to
send us into the crunch end of the season.