Junior Nsemba for England, green card chaos: 5 conclusions from Wigan Warriors’ win at Salford

Aaron Bower
Adam Keighran Wigan Warriors

Wigan Warriors moved joint-top of Super League with a hard-fought and deserved victory at Salford Red Devils on Sunday afternoon.

The reigning Super League and world champions were worthy winners at the Salford Community Stadium: here are the big takeaways and conclusions from the contest.

Junior Nsemba could play for England this year

This may not have been his most complete performance – but his stunning first half try underlined the rapid upward trajectory Junior Nsemba’s career is on.

In the blink of an eye, Nsemba has emerged as one of the most impressive, standout edge forwards in Super League – and you would wager Shaun Wane is certainly watching with a keen eye. Could a mid-season Test come too soon for him?

Wigan’s perfect first half lays the foundation

The Warriors‘ first half was undoubtedly the difference here, with Matt Peet’s side racing into an 18-0 lead that never looked likely to be threatened at any real point.

The backbone of that Wigan display? A 100 per cent completion rate, with the Warriors going 21 from 21 in that opening 40 minutes. They’re a tough nut to crack at the best of times – but with a performance as complete as that, it becomes almost impossible.

Joe Mellor’s spark for Salford

Granted, this wasn’t the Red Devils’ day in terms of the result. In fact, they will look back on a disappointingly one-sided first half and rue a number of key moments.

But as they prepare for life without Amir Bourouh next season, who is bound for Hull, this was an insight into the hooking options at Rowley’s disposal, with Bourouh out here. And when he emerged from the bench, Joe Mellor helped lift Salford with some impressive spark from around the ruck.

Mellor, predominantly a half earlier in his career, played a similar role for Leigh last season – and he looks as though he could add real value again for Salford this season and potentially beyond.

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Green card controversy

Although few would argue with the result, there was certainly a moment of controversy in the first half surrounding Salford scrum-half Marc Sneyd.

Sneyd was down and appeared to require treatment, with referee Tom Grant stopping play and issuing Sneyd with a green card. However, it appeared as though no trainer had called for a stoppage and while Sneyd was off the field, Wigan scored through Brad O’Neill to make it 18-0.

“We weren’t confused: it wasn’t a green card – we didn’t ask for play to be stopped,” Salford’s coach, Paul Rowley, said. “I think they realised it was wrong.”

Options aplenty for Wembley for Matt Peet

With Kaide Ellis and Sam Walters suspended, Mike Cooper and Harvie Hill came in to showcase their talent for a place in the side at Wembley next month: and neither disappointed.

Peet insisted post-match that the pair were already in his thinking for the Challenge Cup final irrespective of their performances here, but the depth in Wigan’s squad is astonishing. There will undoubtedly be some disappointed and high-profile names sat on the sidelines on Wembley on June 8.

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