Salford 16 Wigan 26
Match report as Wigan Warriors beat Salford Red Devils 26-16 at the AJ Bell Stadium
Morgan Escaré debuts with Joe Burgess and Thomas Leuluai also returning
- Oliver Gildart (2), Joe Burgess, George Williams and Joel Tomkins with Wigan’s tries
The Champions are up and running after a 26-16 win over Salford at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Wigan scored five answered tries in the first-half through Joe Burgess, George Williams, Joel Tomkins with a double from Oliver Gildart which saw them go into half-time with a comfortable 26-0 lead.
Salford pulled back three tries in the second-half through Kriss Brining, Junior Sa’u and Michael Dobson but never really threatened the lead as the Warriors held on for a comfortable victory.
France international Morgan Escare made his Warriors debut while Tommy Leuluai and Joe Burgess made their second debuts for the Cherry and Whites.
Tony Clubb and Joel Tomkins also played their first competitive game since May and July respectively.
Lee Mossop faced his old club for the first time since his move to Salford while former Warrior Michael Dobson captained the side from scrum-half.
Wigan started the game brightly with a 50-metre break from Joe Burgess and Wigan soon scored in the third minute as Burgess patted a Sean O’Loughlin grubber back inside to Oliver Gildart who finished the clever move. Escaré failed to convert from out wide but Wigan led 4-0.
Burgess then scored one of his own after launching himself onto a lovely grubber from England international George Williams. Escaré added the extras from the touchline to put his side 10-0 up after 15 minutes.
Shaun Wane’s side stretched their lead when former Salford loanee Gildart made a fine break before giving it to Liam Farrell who handed off Gareth O’Brien and assisted Gildart who sailed over. Escaré’s conversion attempt went wide, but Wigan were 14-0 to the good.
England ace Williams continued his stellar form from 2016 as he stepped two Red Devils players before diving inbetween another pair to score. Escaré successfully converted and Wigan were 20-0 up after half an hour.
Thomas Leuluai then produced a try saving tackle shortly after the try, with the half-back forcing a knock-on from Justin Carney in the corner with a crunching hit.
It was all Wigan in the first-half and the Cherry and Whites were in again when Joel Tomkins barged over the line from close range after receiving a superb offload from Leuluai. Escaré added the conversion which saw Wigan go into the break 26-0 in front.
HALF TIME: Salford Red Devils 0–26 Wigan Warriors
It took a while for the second-40 to get going but it was Salford who scored the first try of the half. Red Devils hooker Kriss Brining caught Wigan napping by scooting from dummy-half to go over. O’Brien converted from in front of the sticks but Wigan were still 26-6 ahead.
Salford centre Niall Evalds made a 50-metre break but Burgess tracked him down showing some rapid pace in the process.
Lewis Tierney then produced a try saver on the hour mark as he wrapped up Michael Dobson over the line after the Salford half-back picked up a loose ball.
The home side pulled another back with 10 minutes remaining when they put it through quick hands along the line and Sa’u wrestled his way over. O’Brien sliced his conversion attempt and Salford were 26-10 behind.
Dobson scored under the posts after Wigan gave away possession on their own line with five minutes remaining. O’Brien added the additional two points but Wigan stayed two tries clear to hold out for the win.
The Warriors now move onto the 2017 Dacia World Club Challenge against Cronulla Sharks next Sunday.
FULL TIME: Salford Red Devils 16–26 Wigan Warriors
Salford Red Devils - 16
Tries: Brining, Sa’u, Dobson
Goals: O’Brien 2/3
Wigan Warriors - 26
Tries: Gildart 2, Burgess, Williams, J Tomkins
Goals: Escare 3/5
Salford Red Devils: 1. Gareth O’Brien, 21. Greg Johnson, 5. Niall Evalds, 4. Junior Sa’u, 2. Justin Carney, 6. Robert Lui, 7. Michael Dobson, 8. Craig Kopczak, 19. Josh Wood, 23. Lee Mossop, 3. Josh Jones, 10. George Griffin, 13. Mark Flanagan
Interchange: 20. Kriss Brining, 16. Olsi Krasniqi, 14. Lama Tasi, 17. Adam Walne
Wigan Warriors: 22. Morgan Escare, 21. Lewis Tierney, 3. Anthony Gelling, 4. Oliver Gildart, 5. Joe Burgess, 6. George Williams, 7. Tommy Leuluai, 8. Frank-Paul Nuuausala, 16. Sam Powell, 10. Ben Flower, 20. Willie Isa, 12. Liam Farrell, 13. Sean O’Loughlin
Interchange: 11. Joel Tomkins, 15. Tony Clubb, 17. Taulima Tautai, 19. Ryan Sutton
Referee – Ben Thaler