Wigan have pushed their way up to fourth in the Super League table with a 28-12 win over Salford at the DW Stadium.
The Warriors have leapfrogged the Red Devils and Catalans in the ladder and now sit fourth. They are four points behind third-placed Hull FC, two points above sixth-placed Salford and just above fifth-placed Catalans on points difference.
Adrian Lam made just one change to his Wigan side that won at Huddersfield last week. Joe Bullock came in for Liam Farrell.
Salford coach Ian Watson made three changes to his outfit that beat Castleford last time out. Adam Walker, Lee Mossop and Rob Luai were replaced by Ben Nakubuwai, Ken Sio and debutant Tui Lolohea.
Wigan were dealt a blow in the third minute as Sean O’Loughlin limped off the field and didn’t return.
Salford’s Krisnan Inu and Wigan’s Chris Hankinson exchanged penalty goals in the opening quarter, before the Warriors broke the deadlock through Liam Marshall.
Joe Greenwood extended Wigan’s lead on the half hour mark but the Red Devils pulled one back just before the half-time hooter sounded through Derrell Olpherts. Wigan were 10-6 to the good at the interval.
Zak Hardaker and Marshall went over for the Warriors early in the second half, which ultimately put the game to bed.
Wigan’s Romain Navarrete and Salford’s Gil Dudson were sin-binned in the 70th minute for fighting.
Kris Welham crossed the whitewash for Salford in the 77th minute but it was Wigan who had the last say as Ollie Partington bulldozed his way over to seal a 28-12 victory for the hosts.
Three talking points
Wigan are getting there
It was by no means a 10 out of 10 performance from Wigan but they are getting better as a team. They are showing glimpses of good attacking flair and they look strong when hey get the ball out to the flanks.
The Warriors simply can’t be written off. It’s been one of their poorest seasons in the last decade – but they sit fourth in the Super League table.
Wigan are probably playing at 70% of their capabilities at the moment and if they can find that extra 30% then they could be dangerous as we enter the back end of the season. They are continuing to improve.
Salford have nothing to worry about
The Red Devils might have lost on the night and they will no doubt be disappointed with their performance but they have nothing to worry about in terms of relegation.
Salford are a good footballing side and are a joy to watch on their day. They have too good of a squad to be relegated from the competition and they seem a pretty tight group, so you can’t see them plummeting.
Watson’s side finished 11th at the end of the 2018 regular season and anything higher than that should be deemed an improvement for the Red Devils this year. They have a bit too much class to go down.
Sammut effective for Wigan
Jarrod Sammut has been in and out of the Wigan squad since he arrived in the off-season from London, but he certainly earned his pay in Wigan’s win over Salford.
The Malta international came on midway through the first half and made an instant impact. He added pace and intensity to Wigan’s attack and they looked great with him on the field.
Sammut has received criticism in recent years for his defence but he was solid against the Red Devils. He has given Lam a healthy selection headache ahead of next week’s home clash against Hull KR.
Line-ups & ratings
Wigan: Hardaker (8); Marshall (8), Hankinson (7), Gildart (7), Burgess (7); Williams (8), Leuluai (7); Clubb (8), Powell (7), Navarrete (7), Isa (7), Greenwood (7), O’Loughlin (N/A). Subs: Smithies (7), Sammut (8), Partington (8), Bullock (7).
Tries: Marshall (2), Greenwood, Hardaker, Partington Goals: Hankinson 4/5, Hardaker 0/1
Salford: Evalds (6); Bibby (5), Inu (6), Welham (6), Olpherts (4); Lolohea (6), Hastings (7); Nakubuwai (7), Tomkins (6), Dudson (6), Jones (7), Lannon (6), McCarthy (6). Subs: Burke (6), Flanagan (5), Lussick (6), Sio (6).
Tries: Olpherts, Welham Goals: Inu 2/3
Wigan are certainly on their way up. I got laughed at a couple of months ago when I said that Wigan would make the top five come the end of the season but it looks like I’m going to be right (for once!).
The Warriors are playing nowhere near their potential but it’s a sign of a good side when you sit in a play-off spot, despite not being at your best. George Williams is an exceptional talent and a shoe-in for the Great Britain squad, too.
As for Salford, they just had an off-day and they should quickly be able to move on from this game. They’ve played much better in 2019 and in my opinion, they will definitely be in Super League next year.
Elsewhere in Super League
Warrington 10-21 St Helens
Wakefield 36-10 Huddersfield