JOEL Tomkins’ return to rugby league was marked by Warriors returning to winning ways with a 45-4 win over Salford Red Devils.
The former England rugby union international came off the bench in the 55th minute to a standing ovation as the home side returned to second place on the Super League ladder at least until Leeds play relegated Bradford on Friday night.
First half tries from Matty Bowen, via the video referee, Anthony Gelling and Josh Charnley put the champions in a commanding half-time lead as Salford’s best chance came on the half-time hooter when Greg Johnson was tackled inches short with the siren blaring.
Gelling fought his way over the line two minutes after the restart and once the video ref had given his effort the green light Wigan were out of sight.
Salford persisted but the home side were still next over the line when Matty Smith crossed as Tomkins ran out onto the field.
That effort was chalked-off for obstruction and the Red Devils responded by punching a hole in the home defence with Niall Evalds racing down the touchline only for Charnley to haul him down.
They eventually got points when Josh Griffin caught Bowen napping and pounced on a kick but the Wigan full back made amends by setting Gelling up for his hat-trick with 10 minutes to go with a weaving run.
In between, Smith thumped a drop goal over from close range.
But teenager George Williams also popped up with a memorable try when he broke from the half-way line to stroll over before Tony Clubb hacked on a loose ball from long range to score.
Smith added further gloss to a comprehensive display with a score at the death.
Wigan Warriors: Matty Bowen; Josh Charnley, Anthony Gelling, Dan Sarginson, Dom Manfredi;George Williams, Matty Smith; Ben Flower, Sam Powell, Tony CLubb, John Bateman, Liam Farrell; Sean O’Loughlin
Subs: Scott Taylor, Joel Tomkins, Gil Dudson, Jordan James
Salford Red Devils: Niall Evalds; Greg Johnson, Junior Sau, Mason Caton-Brown,Josh Griffin; Rangi Chase, Theo Fages; Adrian Morley, Tommy Lee, Darrell Griffin, Matty Ashurst, Harrison Hansen; Tony Puletua
Subs: Lama Tasi, Steve Rapira, Jordan Walne, Logan Tomkins
Referee: Phil Bentham
Star man: Anthony Gelling
Tries: Gelling 3, Bowen, Charnley, Williams, Clubb, Smith
Goals: Smith 6 + 1DG
Read the full report and reaction in Friday’s Evening Post