TURBULENT TIGERS | Wests Tigers' 2016 season was... interesting.
From the demotion and eventual dep...
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New-look Warrington endured a nightmare start to their engage Super League campaign as Salford claimed a shock 24-6 victory at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Wolves coach Paul Cullen handed debuts to a quartet of high-profile signings but they simply failed to sparkle as the City Reds ground out a thoroughly deserved win.
Salford, by contrast, were missing four key players but new recruit John Wilshere made a mockery of the supposed gulf between the sides with two first-half tries.
The stand-off?s clinical brace helped Salford to a 10-0 interval advantage while second-half touchdowns from David Hodgson and Junior Langi left Warrington stunned.
Henry Fa?afili?s try shortly after the restart looked to have hauled the Wolves back in contention, but in truth Karl Harrison?s men never looked likely to relinquish their hard-earned advantage.
The result left the majority of an expectant 10,835 crowd stunned after they had arrived hoping to see Warrington build on last season?s impressive fourth-placed finish with a strong start to the new campaign.
But new signings Paul Rauhihi, Michael Sullivan, Stuart Reardon and Rob Parker struggled to make any impact as the City Reds laid down their own impressive marker for the season ahead.
Harrison?s play-off hopefuls were vibrant from the outset and a concerted spell of early pressure reaped rich dividends after nine minutes.
The outstanding Karl Fitzpatrick?s clever diagonal bomb found Hodgson and he neatly palmed the ball into the path of Wilshere, who touched down from close range.
Hodgson failed to convert but Salford were buoyant and extended their lead five minutes later when Hodgson converted a penalty to make it 6-0.
The City Reds were missing key players in Luke Robinson, Chris Charles and new recruits Andrew Dunemann and Stephen Myler.
But their dogged approach compensated for the quartet?s absence and Fitzpatrick?s clever kicking into the left-hand corner left Reardon frequently exposed.
And the City Reds were in dreamland on the stroke of half-time when Wilshere seized possession and displayed outstanding pace and impressive footwork to dart through a gaping hole in the home rearguard to complete his brace.
Hodgson failed to convert and Warrington trudged off at the break fully prepared for the verbal volley that doubtless awaited them from Cullen.
The coach?s words must have sunk in as the Wolves came out strongly, with Lee Briers? offload finding Martin Gleeson, who found Fa?afili. The Kiwi wing finished off the move in the right-hand corner and, with Briers adding the extras, the Wolves were right back in it.
After 53 minutes, however, Salford hit back with the perfect riposte. Fitzpatrick produced a delightful piece of midfield artistry, chipping the ball over his opponents head before racing forward to collect the ball and provide a perfect offload to Hodgson.
Hodgson added the extras to make it 16-6 and soon added a penalty to secure his side an unassailable 18-6 advantage. Hodgson added a penalty and converted Langi?s close-range touchdown to put the icing on a hugely impressive Salford victory.
Warrington: 6 (0)
Salford: 24 (10)
Tries: Wilshere 2, Hodgson, Langi.
Goals: Hodgson 4.
Warrington: Grose, Fa?afili, M. Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Reardon, Briers, Sullivan, Leikvoll, Clarke, Rauhihi, Swann, Westwood, Parker.
Replacements: Bridge, M. Gleeson, Wood, Lima.
Salford: Hodgson, Langi, Littler, Moule, Stewart, Wilshere, Fitzpatrick, Coley, Alker, Highton, Brocklehurst, Sibbit, Finnigan.
Replacements: Jonkers, Haggerty, Clough, Baldwin.
Referee: R Laughton (Barnsley)