The Super League sides have entered the Betfred Challenge Cup as we launched full steam ahead into round six with the opening fixture, chosen by Premier Sports for Friday night broadcasting, being an intriguing fixture between the Wigan Warriors and the Salford Red Devils.
Both sides came into tonight’s game on the back of confidence boosting wins last weekend with Wigan defeating the Castleford Tigers and Salford taking the scalp of the Leeds Rhinos, but the bookies thought that there would be only one winner and with the Red Devils getting a fourteen-point start on the handicap coupon, they were expecting the Cherry & White adorned, nineteen times winners of the famous old trophy, to be the ones making progress.
It was an end-to-end opening to the game but some poor last tackle decision from both sides meant that the opening points took eleven minutes. Liam Byrne hit the pass five out from the line and steamed over to ground under the sticks to give Zak Hardaker a simple conversion for a six-point lead. In back play Kai Pearce-Paul was receiving treatment and had to leave the field.
On fourteen a terrific Tommy Leuluai cross-field kick was missed by the leaping Liam Marshall and Salford defender with Marshall recovering to ground the ball for the second try of the game. Hardaker again added the extras, Wigan now cruising.
A high tackle from Andy Ackers on Cade Cust on twenty-four gifted Hardaker another two points for 14-0.
A twenty-sixth minute dangerous tackle from Leuluai on James Greenwood saw the incident put on report as the Salford man was helped from the field, the scorers not troubled again before the half time hooter.
Salford had been their own worst enemies in the first half with their ball control letting them down on repeated occasions, often with the Wigan defence on the back foot.
Poor Salford defence allowed John Bateman to score the third Wigan try after he took a Hardaker inside pass to run the angle and score by the right hand upright. Hardaker added the conversion for 20-0 and now requiring four scores the Red Devils were looking at an early cup exit.
On sixty-seven Salford benefitted from a Jai Field error but despite back-to-back sets the Red Devils couldn´t get over the line as the Wigan defence held firm and over eighty minutes they kept Salford away from their line and sent them back down the road pointless as they secured a 20-0 win.
Wigan deservedly become the first name into the quarter final draw, but it was far from a vintage Wigan performance. Salford had their chances and will be kicking themselves that they couldn´t make them count to give them a realistic shot. It was a game which was more lost by Salford than won by Wigan, but the Warriors and their fans won´t be complaining as they look to get ´their´trophy back after nine long years.
Wigan Warriors: Field, Hardaker (4G), Pearce-Paul, Bibby, Marshall (T), Cust, Leuluai, Smithies, Powell, Byrne (T), Farrell, Bateman (T), Isa. Subs: Mago, Partington, Havard, Shorrocks.
Salford Red Devils: Brierley, Williams, Cross, Lafai, Burgess, Croft, Sneyd, Ormondroyd, Ackers, Wells, Lannon, Greenwood, Taylor. Subs: Vuniyayawa, Atkin, Johnson, Gerrard.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 14-0 : HT : 18-0, 20-0 : FT.
Referee: Roberts Hicks.