SHAUN Wane saluted his young guns as they fired Wigan to a 25-4 victory against Salford.
Joe Burgess scored two second-half tries to add to the touchdowns by Sam Powell and John Bateman, as the champions overcame a nervy start to finish as deserved winners.
With nine frontline stars missing through injury, Wane’s starting line-up had an average age of 21 and featured just one overseas player.
And the victory was achieved without Mike McIlorum for a large spell, after he sustained a knee ligaments injury which, Wane said, was not serious.
The coach said: “That was unbelievably satisfying. It was a fantastic win.
“If you looked at the percentage of their salary cap which was on the field, compared to our percentage... it just shows the strength in depth we have at our club. It’s a credit to our youth system.
“The likes of Rocky Hampshire, George Williams and Ryan Sutton have come in and not just played, but played really well. I’m really pleased.”
Wigan now leap ahead of St Helens and Castleford into second-spot, though those sides have yet to play this weekend. Saints host Huddersfield on Friday, while the Tigers face Widnes on Sunday.
Wane added: “It was a fantastic win, because Salford are a good team. We deserved to win by ‘nil’.
“I knew if we defended well and concentrated, we’d get them in the end.
“It was the character and the desire to win which was really pleasing.”
Each side had two tries ruled out in a frustrating opening half, which Wigan edged 6-0, and the video referee was also called on frequently after the break. Wane admitted some of the obstruction calls for both sides were “touch and go”.
Wigan are next in action next Thursday at Huddersfield, again in front of the Sky Sports cameras, when Wane hopes to welcome back some of his injured players.
Salford have now won just one of eight matches since Iestyn Harris left his role as Wane’s assistant to succeed Brian Noble.
“It was a physical game,” said Harris. “I didn’t think there was a whole lot between the teams. “Ultimately when they got the half-chances on the edge, they had the wheels to get there.
“I’m drastically disappointed to lose.”