Wigan to travel to St Helens in Super League semi-finals – talking points & player ratings

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Wigan will face St Helens in the Super League semi-finals next week after they beat Salford 18-12 in the qualifying final.

The Warriors will travel to neighbours St Helens on Friday, with the winner of that one reaching the Grand Final at Old Trafford.

The loser will face the winner of Salford-Castleford, who will play in the second elimination play-off at the AJ Bell Stadium on Thursday.

Adrian Lam made three changes to his Wigan side that beat Castleford last week. Chris Hankinson, Liam Marshall and Liam Farrell returned for the side.

Dan Sarginson [hamstring], Ollie Partington [suspended] and Romain Navarrete dropped out for the Warriors.

Salford coach Ian Watson also made three changes to his outfit that beat Hull KR last time out. Gil Dudson, Tyrone McCarthy and Mark Flanagan came into the team.

Greg Burke, Ben Nakubuwai and Josh Johnson dropped out for the Red Devils.

Wigan centre Oliver Gildart scored the game’s opening try in the 24th minute before George Griffin went over for Salford to tie the score at 6-6 at half-time.

Tommy Leuluai scored for Wigan shortly after the second half restart, while George Williams scored on the hour to put the Warriors 12 points in front.

Jackson Hastings, who will be a Wigan player in 2020, scored in the 62nd minute to pull Salford back into it but Wigan provided solid defence to grind out an 18-12 victory.

Three talking points

One game to go for Wigan

Wigan are now just 80 minutes away from reaching the Grand Final at ld Trafford on October 12.

The Warriors’ form over the last three months has incredible. Wigan know how to play in big games and they will be relishing the next couple of weeks more than anyone else left in the play-offs.

Lam’s side have won the last 12 out of 13 games and they are defending brilliantly at the minute. However, the only team they’ve not beat this year is St Helens, so Friday’s derby is going to be tasty.

Salford have second chance

The Red Devils might have come up short at the DW Stadium but the beauty of finishing third meant that they get a second bite at the cherry, should they have lost at Wigan.

They will host Castleford at the AJ Bell Stadium on Thursday night, with the Tigers winning at Challenge Cup winners Warrington in the first elimination play-off.

Watson’s side won their last eight matches heading into their clash with Wigan, so they still have plenty of things to be positive about.

Leuluai proves his worth

There were a number of contenders to be the man of the match in both sides but I think Tommy Leuluai was sensational for the Warriors.

He was everywhere for Wigan and came up with some huge efforts in defence. Leuluai has been in great form for Wigan this season.

He might be 34 but he has still got something to offer. He is veteran of the game and has been a consistent performer for Lam’s side this year.

Line-ups and player ratings

Wigan: Hardaker (7); Marshall (7), Hankinson (6), Gildart (7), Burgess (8); Williams (7), Leuluai (8); Clubb (8), Powell (5), Byrne (7), Isa (7), Farrell (8), Smithies (7). Subs: Flower (8), French (7), Greenwood (7), O’Loughlin (7).

Tries: Gildart, Leuluai, Williams Goals: Hardaker 3/4

Salford: Evalds (7); Sio (6), Welham (6), Bibby (6), Inu (7); Lolohea (7), Hastings (8); Mossop (8), Tomkins (7), Dudson (8), Jones (7), Griffin (6), McCarthy (7). Subs: Lussick (7), Walker (7), Flanagan (6), Lannon (6).

Tries: Griffin, Hastings Goals: Inu 2/2

Attendance: 9,247

Drew’s views

Wigan’s defence in the second half was very impressive. They were forced to defend on their own line several times in the second 40 and they can go all the way if they defend like that at St Helens on Friday.

I was impressed with Leuluai’s performance as mentioned but I thought winger Joe Burgess had his best game of the season. He made a couple of line breaks and was solid in defending his wing.

As for Salford, they can be proud of their efforts but they made too many errors in Wigan’s half throughout the game and that ultimately cost them. They should be pretty confident heading into Thursday’s match against Castleford.


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