Zak Hardaker snatches win for Wigan at Salford – talking points & ratings

Zak Hardaker’s late try saw Wigan snatch a 30-26 victory against Salford at the AJ Bell Stadium. 

Salford coach Ian Watson made two changes to his outfit that beat Warrington last time out. Junior Sa’u and Logan Tomkins came in for Kris Welham and Rob Lui.

Adrian Lam made three changes to his Wigan side that lost to St Helens on Good Friday. Morgan Escare, Liam Marshall and Amir Bourouh replaced Sean O’Loughlin, Tom Davies and Romain Navarrete. Hooker Bourouh made his first-team debut.

Joe Burgess continued his great try scoring form as he put Wigan in the lead early doors, while Joe Bullock went over to hand Wigan a 14-0 lead in the first half.

Salford came back into the game in the second quarter and a flat ball from Jackson Hastings saw George Griffin storm over. Wigan led 14-6 at the break.

Niall Evalds brought Salford to within two points shortly after the second half restart, before Joe Greenwood quickly powered over for the Warriors.

Salford took a 26-20 lead on the hour thanks to tries from Adam Walker and Joey Lussick.

But Wigan dug deep and had the right attitude. Greenwood got his second in the 72nd minute, with Hardaker snatching the win following a fine solo effort just three minutes from time. The Warriors secured a 30-26 victory.

Three talking points

Ferocious pace of the game

It didn’t look like either side were playing their second game in the space of four days. The intensity was sky high and it made it all the more of an entertaining spectacle.

Wigan started the game like a house on fire and scored through Burgess. Although it took 15 or 20 minutes for Salford to wake up, they certainly ramped up the work load through the middle.

Wigan wingers Burgess and Marshall and Salford flyers Derrell Olpherts and Jake Bibby worked and worked when bringing their sides out of yardage, while the forward packs really bust a gust in hot conditions. It was a great game to watch.

Wigan’s attitude pulls them through

How many games in recent times have we seen Wigan behind in the dying embers of games which they have gone on to win? A hell of a lot!

Lam’s men showed fine charisma to stay in the game and turn things around, despite being depleted and on the back foot. Their youngsters pulled through, while their experienced men really earned their pennies.

Wigan’s attitude, which was instilled by former coach Shaun Wane, was the main reason in why they snatched the win rather than suffering a narrow loss.

Salford mistakes cost them

The Red Devils made a number of silly errors in the game, which ultimately cost them the points. They kicked the ball out on the full twice in the first half, which resulted in Wigan scoring in the following sets.

They led 26-20 with 10 minutes of the game remaining but they ended up giving cheap ball to Wigan in the latter stages, which you just can’t afford to do. Salford simply got bit on the backside.

Salford played some great rugby though and are a quality side to watch in attack, but they really need to cut out soft penalties. If they can reduce the number of errors on average per game, they’ll reap the rewards.

Line-ups and ratings

Salford: Evalds (7); Bibby (7), Inu (8), Sa’u (6), Olpherts (6); Wood (7), Hastings (8); Walker (8), Tomkins (6), Dudson (6), Jones (7), Griffin (7), Burke (6). Subs: Lussick (8), Murray (7), Nakubuwai (7), McCarthy (8).

Tries: Griffin, Evalds, Walker, Lussick Goals: Inu 5/5

Wigan: Escare (7); Marshall (6), Hardaker (8), Gildart (6), Burgess (8); Williams (8), Shorrocks (7); Flower (8), Leuluai (6), Bullock (7), Isa (6), Greenwood (7), Partington (7). Subs: Tautai (7), Smithies (7), Hankinson (6), Bourouh (7).

Tries: Burgess, Bullock, Greenwood 2, Hardaker Goals: Hardaker 5/6

Attendance: 4,017

Drew’s views

Wigan’s attitude in the latter stages of the game was brilliant and it pulled them through. However, their goal-line defence was weak in stages and it needs work.

If the Warriors were playing a St Helens or Warrington, they could have conceded 50+ points and that’s not an exaggeration. Their attack was much sharper against Salford though, with George Williams having a splendid performance in the halves.

As for Salford, they just need to stop giving away daft penalties and coming up with stupid errors. They could be a solid top eight side if they just tidied things up a little.

Elsewhere in Super League

Huddersfield Giants 24-19 London Broncos

Hull Kingston Rovers 6-54 Warrington Wolves

St Helens 62-16 Hull FC

Wakefield Trinity 26-24 Leeds Rhinos