George Williams bagged a hat-trick to help Wigan claim their second win of the season as they ran-out 30-22 winners at Salford.
The Warriors had lost their previous five games, with their last win coming in round two against Leeds Rhinos on February 8.
Ian Watson made two changes to his Salford side that lost at Castleford Tigers last time out. Ed Chamberlain and Adam Lawton replaced Kris Welham and Logan Tomkins.
Adrian Lam made three changes to his Wigan outfit that lost to Warrington Wolves last week. Joe Burgess, Dom Manfredi and Ben Flower came in for Tom Davies, Morgan Escare and Ollie Partington.
Josh Jones put Salford in the lead inside four minutes following a lovely grubber from Rob Lui, before Wigan hit back through George Williams midway through the first half after a great dummy from Jarrod Sammut.
Wigan hooker Tommy Leuluai powered over from dummy half in the 28th minute, with Joe Greenwood then crossing to put the Warriors 18-6 in front.
The Red Devils scored two tries in the final two minutes of the first half through Derrell Olpherts and Niall Evalds, but it was Wigan who were ahead at the break with an 18-16 scoreline.
Salford scored in the set after the second half restart as Adam Walker snatched the ball from Manfredi to go over.
Williams turned on the heat in the second half and scored two tries to complete his hat-trick. It was a nervy ending to the game, but the Warriors sealed a 30-22 win for just the second time this season.
Three talking points
Williams puts on a show
The England international has come under criticism by some people this season but he proved the doubters wrong on Sunday as he bagged a hat-trick.
Williams looked very slick in attack and his running game really troubled the Red Devils throughout the match.
He has been strongly linked with a move to Canberra Raiders in recent months – something which could have affected his game in 2019 – but he looks back to his best. His short kicking game was top notch and his performances could see him land a place in the Great Britain squad this autumn.
Wigan’s potent left edge is back
Joe Burgess made his first appearance in 11 months after recovering from a long-term knee injury. It’s always nice to see players return from such long spells on the sidelines.
The England international will be hoping for an injury-free season now as he eyes to break his way into Wayne Bennett’s squad for the Lions tour at the end of the year.
He was on Wigan’s left wing, with that side in attack looking fantastic. The left edge of the Warriors has been a real threat for oppositions over recent seasons and with Burgess, Oliver Gildart and Williams playing so well, will Wigan start to climb the table now?
Neutrals would have loved it
The neutral rugby league fan would have really enjoyed the game because it was so end-to-end and it was closer than the scoreline suggests.
But why was the game £24 to watch and even worse, £27 on the gate? ‘Twenty’s plenty’ has been a campaign in football before, and is it time for a similar campaign to be brought into rugby league? Fans shouldn’t be priced out of attending games. Rugby league needs to retain and attract fans, not price them out.
A rugby league match ticket should not cost more than £20, and that’s with the Super League Grand Final and Challenge Cup final included. It was a great game at the AJ Bell Stadium, and it was a shame that it wasn’t televised.
Line-ups and ratings
Salford: Evalds (8); Olpherts (7), Chamberlain (6), Bibby (6), Sio (6); Lui (6), Hastings (7); Murray (7), Lussick (6), Dudson (5), Jones (7), Turgut (5), Flanagan (5). Subs: Griffin (6), Nakubuwai (7), Walker (8), Lawton (N/A).
Tries: Jones, Olpherts, Evalds Walker Goals: Chamberlain 3/5
Wigan: Hardaker (8); Manfredi (7), Sarginson (7), Gildart (7), Burgess (8); Williams (9), Sammut (7); Clubb (6), Leuluai (6), Navarrete (6), Isa (7), Greenwood (8), O’Loughlin (7). Subs: Shorrocks (7), Hamlin (6), Flower (8), Bullock (7).
Tries: Williams (3), Leuluai, Greenwood Goals: Hardaker 5/5
If Wigan can get their left edge playing like that every week, then they can cause some real damage in Super League, and that’s without Liam Farrell, who is still to come back from injury.
Williams, Gildart and Burgess have built up a quick and firey left edge in recent seasons and they were on good form against Salford. After losing five games on the spin, it was just important that the Warriors got the monkey off their backs.
And Salford have lots to remain positive about. They’ve lost their last two games against Castleford and Wigan, but they haven’t been by big margins and they’ve stuck in the games throughout. They are improving slowly but surely as a team, and the spirit among the Red Devils camp this year looks to be as good as its ever been.
Elsewhere in Super League
Hull FC grinded out a 28-24 win over London Broncos at Ealing Trailfinders.
Josh Griffin (2), Carlos Tuimavave, Jordan Thompson, Albert Kelly and Bureta Faraimo crossed the whitewash for the Black and Whites.