Wigan Warriors beat Salford Red Devils 20-16 at the DW Stadium
Wigan tries from Oliver Gildart (2), Anthony Gelling and Dom Manfredi
- Wigan continue unbeaten start to the 2016 Super League season
Dom Manfredi scored a last gasp winner to help Wigan Warriors beat Salford Red Devils 20-16 to maintain their unbeaten start to Super League XXI.
The Cherry and Whites took an early lead in the first-half but the Red Devils fought back with two tries of their own in the second-half to tie the score late on but Wigan edged it as Manfredi crossed the whitewash in the 77th minute.
A baltic Thursday night in Lancashire didn’t affect the game in the slightest as it was a try-filled one between the sides with seven scored in total. Wigan ran out victors at home, with Salford’s big pack not being able to stop Wigan’s professional performance.
There were several changes in Shaun Wane’s side, Lee Mossop and Greg Burke featured in place of the injured Micky McIlorum and Willie Isa. Oliver Gildart kept his place, with regular winger Josh Charnley still sidelined through injury.
Wigan got the game underway and it took just a couple of minutes for the away side to take the lead as they were awarded a penalty due to Wigan interfering in the play-the-ball. Full-back Gareth O’Brien converted from bang in front, Salford 2-0 up after five minutes at the DW.
The Cherry and Whites came up with a quick reply in the seventh minute as Anthony Gelling showed great vision to carry on with the free-play to pass the ball along the line to Oliver Gildart, with the centre by trade weaving in and out of the Salford defence to dive over while brushing off Justin Carney. Matty Smith’s conversion attempt went just wide of the mark, Wigan 4-2 to the good.
Salford were starting to apply pressure following the Wigan try and it was Gildart who made a try-saving effort as he intercepted a Gareth O’Brien pass which was going straight into Carney’s breadbasket – Salford almost certain to score if it wasn’t for England Academy international.
Wigan were soon in for another and it could well possibly a contender for try of the season - Anthony Gelling burst through Salford’s defence to run 40-metres before giving it to Taulima Tautai who threw a sublime offload to Matty Smith. The England half-back continued the move with an inch perfect pass to Gildart who showed neat footwork by stepping Carney to complete a wonderful Wigan move. Smith successfully converted the try to make the score 10-2 to the home side after 25 minutes.
The game was getting tasty in the latter stages of the first-half, with big hits from Skipper Sean O’Loughlin and George Williams on Ben Murdoch-Masila and Junior Sa’u rocking the DW.
Both teams had chances to add to their tallies at the end of the half with Wigan keeping Salford out on their own line as the hooter sounded.
HALF TIME: Wigan Warriors 10–2 Salford Red Devils
Wigan were on fire in the opening minutes of the second-half as full-back Lewis Tierney threw a perfectly timed pass to Gelling for the Cook Islands international to barge over O’Brien and ground the ball to finish a sound Wigan move. Smith added the extras from out wide to put his side 16-2 up after 44-minutes.
Shaun Wane’s men did extremely well to keep the visitors out in the middle stages of the second-half. The Red Devils had four repeat sets on the Wigan line but it was workhorse like defence from the likes of Liam Farrell, John Bateman and Greg Burke that managed to keep Salford at bay.
Salford got themselves back into the game on the hour-mark as they pulled a try back through centre Junior Sa’u. The centre latched onto a clever Michael Dobson grubber kick to beat three Wigan players to the ball and ground it in dramatic fashion. Full-back O’Brien sliced his conversion attempt wide, Wigan still led 16-6.
The Red Devils then got their second try of the night in the 68th minute through Josh Griffin. Utility-back Niall Evalds shipped the ball down the line and it was Griffin who decided to drive it in with the centre fending off two Wigan players as he crashed over. O’Brien failed in his conversion attempt; the score standing at 16-10 to the Warriors.
Ian Watson’s resurgent side then drew level with just seven minutes remaining. Half-back Robert Lui passed it to back-rower Murdoch-Masila who stormed over the line with no Wigan players being able to stop the hard running forward. Griffin added the additional points from the conversion to make the score level at 16-all.
Sam Powell did a solid 70-minutes in the hooker position before being replaced by utility-forward Greg Burke, with Sean O’Loughlin filling in at dummy-half.
With Salford in the ascendency they could sense a first ever win at the DW but Wigan had other ideas as they grabbed a winner three minutes from time. Taulima Tautai went on a barnstorming run which put the Warriors just ten-metres short of the Salford try-line. Williams threw an accurate pass to Gelling who managed to get an offload away to Manfredi, with the winger exquisitely finishing in the corner. England international Smith dragged his kick just wide, Wigan 20-16 up and taking the two points.
FULL TIME: Wigan Warriors 20–16 Salford Red Devils
Wigan Warriors – 20
Tries: Gildart 2, Gelling, Manfredi
Goals: Smith 2/4
Salford Red Devils – 16
Tries: Sa’u, Griffin, Murdoch-Masila
Goals: O’Brien 1/3, Griffin 1/1
Sponsors Man of the Match: Sean O’Loughlin
Wigan Warriors: 22. Lewis Tierney, 20. Oliver Gildart, 3. Anthony Gelling, 4. Dan Sarginson, 5. Dom Manfredi; 6. George Williams, 7. Matty Smith; 21. Ryan Sutton, 16. Sam Powell, 10. Ben Flower; 14. John Bateman, 12. Liam Farrell; 13. Sean O’Loughlin.
Interchange 15. Tony Clubb, 17. Lee Mossop, 19. Taulima Tautai, 26. Greg Burke.
Salford Red Devils: 14. Gareth O’Brien, 2. Justin Carney, 4. Junior Sa’u, 3. Josh Griffin, 18. Greg Johnson; 6. Robert Lui, 7. Michael Dobson; 8. Craig Kopczak, 9. Tommy Lee, 10. George Griffin; 11. Ben Murdoch-Masila, 33. Josh Jones; 13. Mark Flanagan.
Interchange: 19. Logan Tomkins, 16. Olsi Krasniqi, 20. Jordan Walne, 1. Niall Evalds.
Referee: George Stokes