It was an impressive and strong looking starting line-up for the Salford Red Devils as they welcomed the Wigan Warriors to the AJ Bell Stadium as they looked for their second win of the season against a side so far unbeaten in 2021.
The way things stand in the table, and with this seasons win percentage calculations, neither side could improve their league position as a result of today’s game as the teams kicked off a weekend of six fixtures over Saturday and Sunday, almost unheard of in Super League outside Magic Weekend.
Wigan were nailed on favourites with the bookies, Salford getting a twelve-point start on the handicap coupon.
Morgan Escare had a try denied on ten minutes for an obstruction in the build up as both sides but within a minute Harvey Livett intercepted a Bateman pass and cantered downfield for eighty metres to score and put the Red Devils into the lead. Livett was unable to add the conversion, but after a great opening ten minutes Salford were ahead.
Ikahihifo had the ball stolen in a three man tackle on fourteen, Livett smacking over the penalty from under the shadow of the sticks.
Wigan struck when Singleton stretched for the line on his knees and grounded after taking the ball at first receiver, Harry Smith added the conversion and it was all-square after twenty minutes.
A determined run by substitute Jack Ormondroyd off a pass from Tui Lolohea after Kallum Watkins was twice involved in an intricate passing move. Livett was accurate with the boot, the Red Devils 12-6 ahead.
Smith picked up a loose ball close to his own line and after attempted tackles from Sio and Escare he managed to pass inside to the supporting Liam Farrell who made it to the line and dabbed the ball down. Smith couldn’t add the conversion from wide, the Red Devils holding on to a two-point lead with five minutes remaining.
Livett added a penalty goal with two minutes left on the clock and the Red Devils took a four-point lead into the sheds.
Salford put in a tremendous defensive effort during the opening exchanges of the second half and they extended their lead through a Livett penalty goal on the hour mark.
Brad Singleton broke Salford’s hearts on sixty-five when he went through a gap at pace and crashed over the line. Smith added the conversion and the scores were all square again at 16-16.
A Morgan Escare attempted drop goal was charged down with ten minutes left on the clock Salford signalling their intention early on but with three minutes left, Jackson Hastings kicked a drop goal from in front of the sticks to snatch a sensational Wigan win.
A tremendous game deserved two winners with a great atmosphere from the small number of supporters allowed in the ground. It was the small number of Wigan fans who were celebrating the win at the final hooter but they knew that they had been in a game and the second best for long periods to a brave Red Devils side who will be left wondering what they need to do to get a win.
Salford Red Devils: Escare, Sio, Watkins, Livett (T, 3G), Williams, Lolohea, Patton, Ikahihifo, Addy, Burke, Lannon, Pauli, Taylor. Subs: Aitkin, Lussick, Ormondroyd (T), Wells.
Wigan Warriors: French, Hardaker, Bibby, Shorrocks, Manfredi, Hastings (DG), Smith (2G), Singleton (2T), Powell, Havard, Farrell (T), Bateman, Partington. Subs: Bullock, Byrne, Clark, Pearce-Paul.
Referee: James Child.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 6-4, 6-6, 10-6, 12-6, 12-10, 14-10 : HT : 16-10, 16-14, 16-16, 16-17 : FT.