Wigan Warriors kicked off their quest for Grand Final glory with a 40-12 triumph over Salford on Friday night as Shaun Wane’s side look to bring the glory days back to the DW.
The Warriors were forced to start the season with a depleted squad after losing two of their best players in Anthony Gelling and Micky Mcilorum. The club seem to be going through a tough financial period, and are not being able to compete with the players growing wage demands.
Nevertheless, they ran out their strongest side against Salford, who would be no walkover, and started off their campaign strongly, scoring seven tries with young Liam Marshall, already staking his claim for the most fruitful young player in the league, and Oliver Gildart scoring two each.
Wigan had an extremely below-par season last year with injuries to so many key players but are eager to put it right this season and prove they are still one of the big guns in the league. There was, though, a sense of ‘here we go again’ when Salford ran in the opening try but Tom Davies quickly cancelled it, sneaking in on the right wing.
Without a regular and consistent kicker since the legendary Pat Richards left the club in 2013, up stepped Sam Tomkins to state his claim with the conversion kick – but he skewered it wide of the posts.
Wigan were in front soon enough though as Gildart offered himself from George Williams’s adventurous kick to gather the ball and run over for his first of the night, which this time was comfortably converted by Tomkins, putting Wigan 10-6 to the good at half time.
Salford were still well in contention for a big result, but little did they know the Warriors would run out five second-half tries. Returning from a torrid injury-hit season, full-back Morgan Escare scored the try of the evening as he took a well dispatched kick from Marshall, before running down the wing to go over, giving the Warriors the belief they needed to go on and win the game.
Wigan then took it to another level with quick passing on the Salford 20-metre line, giving Tomkins and his disco feet too much time to aim a kick behind the Salford defence for Marshall to get in on the act, an extremely well-worked try. Marshall once again used his football skills to kick the ball over the top of the Salford defence after a great find by George Williams to race onto the ball and score his quickfire brace.
Gildart soon scored his second of the night after supporting the run of Marshall down the left-wing to leave nobody between himself and the goal as he dived over between the sticks as the game turned into a rout.
There was still one more try to come from the Warriors though, and from the most unlikely of scorers as Tony Clubb resisted the tackles of three Salford men to steam-boat over the line for what could well be his first and last try of the season. Salford added a late consolation to make the score a tad bearable but in the grand scheme of things they were outplayed by the Warriors over 80 minutes.
Elsewhere in the Super League, Widnes Vikings beat Catalan Dragons 40-12, St Helens thrashed last year’s league winners Castleford 46-6, Wakefield Trinity beat Hull KR 28-6, last year’s Grand Final winners Leeds Rhinos narrowly beat Warrington Wolves 16-12 and Hull FC beat Huddersfield Giants 38-12.
Wigan will look to build on this result as their next challenge is against the stern Hull FC, a contest that has produced numerous great games in the past and hopefully this one will be no different as they will want to send a message to their rivals that the Wigan of old, are back.
Wigan – Marshall 2, Gildart 2, Clubb, Davies, Escare Goals: Tomkins 6
Salford – Welham, Evalds Goals: O’Brian 2