Wigan shrugged off all the rumours surrounding Martin Gleeson to see off a plucky Salford side 32-16 at The Willows.
After coming up short against St George Illawarra Dragons last Sunday, the Warriors looked still to be suffering from that game, never really clicking in to gear against the Reds.
The Warriors couldn’t have got off to a better start when Thomas Leuluai cruised through a huge hole in the Salford defence, before putting Harrison Hansen around the full-back for a fine first score.
Salford, who were woeful in their opening home game against St Helens, didn’t help themselves moments after, when the kick-off went out straight on the full, to the frustration of the home crowd.
It enabled Wigan to ease in to the game and Leuluai once again took advantage of some sloppy defending to gather a loose ball and dance his way to the line for 10-0.
With the home fans fearing the worst, and a repeat of their 56-22 drubbing last time out at The Willows, Salford started to get a hold in the match.
But it was prop Ray Cashmere who set up the platform for the Reds’ first score. His barnstorming run forced a penalty, and moments later quick hands across the field led to Luke Patten setting up Ashley Gibson for a score.
The Reds then bombed a chance when Ratchford’s towering bomb evaded full back Sam Tomkins to give the home side a full set of six on their opponents line. But Adam Sidlow‘s knock on let Wigan off the hook.
Smith’s superb kicking kept Wigan pinned back in their own half, and a smart reverse kick on the last tackle outfoxed Tomkins who just managed to knock the ball dead with Ratchford ready to pounce.
Their late first half rally came at a cost, with Ratchford failing to return in the second half having collided with a post in his chase to the ball with Tomkins, and the Reds missed his flair at half back.
Wigan started the second half strongly but were once again gifted points by soft Salford defence as Leuluai was able to pick up from a scrappy play the ball and scoot over on the last tackle, to enable the Warriors to stretch their advantage to 22-10.
Salford at least produce one moment of magic in the second half when Patten’s inside ball was gathered by a galloping Chris Nero who crossed to give them a glimmer of hope at 28-16.
But the Warriors had little difficulty in seeing the game out and managed another try of their own, Darrell Goulding scoring the try after a superb 60 metre run by Tomkins had laid the platform.
With the gossip all about the circumstances surrounding Gleeson’s absence, the team on the field put in a typically professional performance to bounce back from last week’s loss.