First moan of the season - the lack of bars open at the away end of
the ground! The excuse? "We didn't expect so many people!" Deary me
- beer manager at the Willows - go to your room!
only moan though. It was quite a good hard fought contest between
Wigan and Salford. I think two late tries flatters the full time
score for Salford but they didn't seem to be the roll over and die
side that they have consistently been over the past few years. They
looked impressive in defence, with one particularly good stand to
hold out Wigan in the second half.
Wigan played in the blue away strip with Jeff Lima and Ryan
Hoffman making their first appearances for the club. The late
withdrawal of Stuart Fielden added to the absences of Pat Richards,
Sam Tomkins, Brett Finch and Martin Gleeson. Youngster Dom Crosby
came in to replace Fielden.
Salford played in their 2010 white away strip, which really
didn't flatter ex Warrior Feka Paleaaesina. Moobs everywhere from
him in that kit. He seems to have put a lot of weight back on. He
got a good reception from the Wigan fans today. The other ex
Wiganer from last year, Phil Bailey, didn't play.
Wigan began the season with a successful tactic that completed
the old one just gone. They swung the ball out right and
Darrell Goulding found himself crashing over from close range, with
no one to stop him. Paul Deacon converted off the touchline to make
it 6-0 after 5 minutes.
From the restart though, Salford hit straight back, thanks to a
fumble at the restart. It was very wet conditions so a bit of an
excuse their for Thomas Leuluai.
Salford immediately replied with ex Bradford and Huddersfield
man Chris Nero scoring down the left. Conversion from Daniel
Holdsworth levelled the scores at 6-6.
Five minutes later Wigan were in again, with the same try
scorer. Goulding finished off a move having been sent over by Sean
O'Loughlin. Deacon failed to convert this time, leaving the score
Salford should have hit back soon after. Luke Patten had broke
clear up the right wing but Wigan did well to scramble back.
Really, Salford should have shifted left and got over quite easily
but blew the opportunity in the end. Credit the scrambling Wigan
The game then withdrew into a midfield battle. It certainly
wasn't boring, big hits were on display and at times Salford
struggled against Wigan's high defensive standards. However it was
looking like 10-6 would remain the score up until the break. Their
was a good bit of biff on 33 minutes, but Phil Bentham resisted the
temptation to shuffle his cards.
Vicious rumour gone round that I had retreated to the bar area
when Wigan scored again right on half time. Simply not true.
Honestly! I know for a fact Joel Tomkins scored and Karl Pryce hit
a beauty conversion off the touchline which went over off the post.
Joel had been playing left centre during this phase of the game
with Carmont on the left wing after Josh Charnley had been rotated.
That try right on the break sent Wigan into the sheds with a 16-6
Wigan came out very strong early second half and perhaps should
have claimed two or three tries in that spell but in the end they
had to settle for a gift effort on 43 minutes. 40 Metres out
Salford were desperately offloading and the ball went straight into
the hands of Joel Tomkins who claimed an easy second try. Simple
conversion as well for Deacon who was back on the field to make it
Despite constant Wigan pressure, Salford hung on into the game
and hit back themselves on the hour with a try from Stefan
Ratchford from close range. Holdsworth's conversion making it
But Wigan didn't give them hope for long. They soon retook
control of the match after Liam Farrell had cut Salford up with a
break right up the middle. Quickly swinging the ball left, George
Carmont had the overlap to score. Minutes later on the same left
wing Karl Pryce was sent in for an easy try. Deacon couldn't
convert either though but a 30-12 lead was showing that with 7
minutes to go, Wigan were just that bit more clinical than Salford
on the day.
However Salford did score two late tries which will leave
Michael Maguire with something to work on. The first came from a
kick that was fumbled again by Amos Roberts in the wet conditions.
It fell simply for Rob Parker and his try was converted by Matty
Smith to make it 30-18 with 3 minutes to go.
Then in the last minute with Wigan on the attack, Jodie
Broughton intercepted and raced the full length of the field to
score under the post. Smith's conversion making the final score
In the end it's always hard to judge pre season but I think both
sides will be happy. It was good defence from both, especially
given the wet conditions. A good game all round that (pardon the
pun) whets the appetite for the season ahead.