Five things we learned: Salford need Lui, Warrington defence key, Widnes injury woes

There are plenty of talking points from round ten of the Betfred Super League.

No Barba? No problem

Many St Helens fans might’ve been a little bit worried when news broke that Ben Barba was set to miss his first game of 2018.

After all, Barba had been far and away the Red V’s most influential player this season, notching a whopping 19 tries and assists in his first nine outings of the season.

However, there was nothing to fear as Jonny Lomax stepped into the number one spot with great aplomb, linking up well with Theo Fages and the ever-impressive Danny Richardson in the halves.

Justin Holbrook couldn’t contain his delight when Lomax chimed in to set up the Saints’ second try, punching the air with delight as Mark Percival crossed.

He may not admit it, but Holbrook might’ve expected a much tougher contest- against Hull FC fresh off the back of three consecutive wins- especially without his most prized asset.

However, the Merseyside boss will have been pleased with his players, who proved that they aren’t just a one-man team.

Warriors made of sterner stuff 

It takes real character to overturn a 21-0 deficit and claim victory in the South of France. Nevertheless, that is exactly what the Wigan Warriors managed.

Shaun Wane revealed that his harsh words in the changing rooms at the interval were the catalyst for a second-half revival- He may need to repeat those words every week if that is the kind of response he gets.

The way that the Warriors were able to dig themselves out of their monumental hole and claim the win will inevitably give them immense confidence going forward, and rightly so.

In contrast, Steve McNamara knows that his side will be hurting, given what they showed in the first 40 minutes. No-one could’ve predicted how the game could turn on his head.

Regardless of emotion, this turnaround really shows what character, pride and belief Wane and co have instilled in their playing ground- all of which will help the Cherry and Whites throughout the rest of 2018. 

Defence key to Wolves glory 

Slowly but surely, Warrington are building up a sense of increased momentum heading into a period of very winnable games.

However, it was not their structured, yet effective attacking endeavour which secured their two points at the AJ Bell Stadium.

It was the ability of Steve Price’s side to repel several waves of pressure close to their own line during a 20-minute period in the second half, at a time when the Salford Red Devils had their sails up.

Good attack might make the headlines, but solid defence secures the riches of victory.

Given that the Wolves have conceded just one try in each of their last two away games, they certain seem to have all the makings of a top side in transition.

Once their attack fully clicks into gear, Warrington could well be on their way to challenging for 2018 silverware. 

Salford need to keep Lui

Despite losing to the Warrington Wolves on Saturday afternoon, Ian Watson will have taken plenty of positives from their most recent game.

Whether it be the impressive spirit shown by the likes of Mark Flanagan or the sublime yardage made by Lama Tasi throughout the game, Watson will know that he has a lot to work with going forward.

However, the most important thing for the Red Devils is their ability to keep hold of Robert Lui beyond the end of the current campaign.

The ex-North Queensland star will attract a lot of suitors, especially after displaying his versatility during Saturday’s showdown.

Despite early nerves, Lui showed good aptitude playing at one and seemed confident with striking a balance between providing attacking flair and defensive support for his team-mates.

Although a possible Robert Lui departure could well hinge on the club’s financial situation, much of Salford’s success- in terms of building a regularly competitive side in the seasons ahead- could rest on the Australian half-back remaining in Greater Manchester.

Vikings injury woes continue

Regardless of their result against Hull Kingston Rovers on Saturday night, one thing that Widnes head coach Denis Betts will not have wanted was another injury.

He most certainly will not have envisaged four in the space of an hour.

After Keanan Brand suffered a suspected leg break six minutes into his league debut, the Vikings then lost Danny Craven and Wellington Albert in the space of six first-half minutes, before Gil Dudson’s injury nightmare continued as he left the field shortly into the second half.

Having already been without the likes of Matt Whitley, Lloyd White, Rhys Hanbury and Krisnan Inu in recent weeks, Betts will be wondering when he is going to get a break.

Having played the last 30 minutes with no available interchanges, Widnes became visibly fatigued and couldn’t keep KR at bay as the game went on, the home side eventually running out 31-12 victors.

The number of players available at the Select Security Stadium is becoming thinner by the day.

If things don’t improve injury-wise for the Vikings soon, they may have to start delving into the loan market for additional resources.

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