8 hours ago - 4 Likes
Wigan 15 - Salford 4
Wigan captain Andy Farrell may have played his last game for the club and lie on the brink of agreeing a cross-code move to rugby union, but the Warriors still managed to kick off their Engage Super League X campaign with victory against spirited Salford.
Denis Betts?s side shrugged off the expected departure of the Great Britain skipper to overcome the threat of the plucky visitors following a fiercely contested encounter, where only David Allen?s late try finally saw off Salford?s threat and allowed Wigan to finally breath a little easier.
Both Wigan and the Rugby Football Union today confirmed that Farrell, currently sidelined until June following knee surgery, is in discussions to switch to the 15-man code.
Wigan were also without injured winger Brian Carney and Australian prop Luke Davico, whose contract was this week cancelled due to a serious pectoral muscle injury, leaving the Warriors short of front-row options.
However, new signings Dennis Moran, Jerry Seuseu and David Vaealiki were handed debuts, while Salford gave debuts to new recruits Ian Sibbitt and former Wigan pair Luke Robinson and David Hodgson.
Karl Harrison?s side made a bright start but after Chris Charles missed an early penalty from 40 metres, Salford?s resistance was soon broken.
After six minutes, hooker Terry Newton worked a clever opening and delivered a delightful offload to Moran 10 metres out and he grounded in fine style, with Danny Tickle goaling off the post to hand the hosts a 6-0 advantage.
Despite the efforts of hooker Malcolm Alker - prominent along with Robinson - there was precious little respite for the visitors during the early exchanges and they could consider themselves fortunate not to be further behind.
Shortly after the half-hour mark, Brett Dallas finished off a flowing move by grounding in the corner, but the Warriors winger had been tackled into touch before scoring and no try was awarded.
Eleven minutes after the restart, and following a spell of incessant Wigan pressure, Moran laid the ball back to Sean O?Loughlin and his drop goal extended the hosts? lead.
O?Loughlin, Farrell?s brother-in-law, drove Wigan on at every opportunity, but the determined visitors got themselves right back into the game shortly before the hour mark.
A sustained spell of pressure saw Alker ground with a scrappy effort to make it 7-4, but Charles?s kicking again betrayed him and his conversion skewed wide.
Suitably inspired, however, Salford continued to push Wigan further back and as tensions rose, a fierce brawl involving virtually all 26 players erupted after Danny Sculthorpe and Salford substitute Andy Coley clashed inside the visitors? half.
No player was sinbinned and from the resulting penalty, awarded to the Warriors, Tickle converted to extend his side?s lead by another two points.
Pressure from the Warriors culminated in Newton?s offload allowing Allen to ground just wide of the posts and Tickle added the extras to make it 15-4 and secure Wigan victory.
Wigan: Radlinski, Dallas, Aspinwall, Vaealiki, Wild, Orr, Brown, Moran, Seu Seu, Sculthorpe, Newton, Godwin, Hock, Tickle, O'Loughlin, Hansen, Beswick, Allen.
Salford: Beverley, Hodgson, Littler, Stewart, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Rutgerson, Sibbit, Charles, Highton, Fitzpatrick, McAvoy, Haggerty, Jonkers, Clough, Brocklehurst, McGuinness.