Salford Red Devils 20 Wigan Warriors 6

John Bateman made his first Wigan appearance for more than two years as Adrian Lam's outfit were edged out by Salford in their only pre-season friendly.

Sunday, 14th March 2021, 5:49 pm
Updated Sunday, 14th March 2021, 5:54 pm
John Bateman facing Salford
John Bateman facing Salford

Bateman showed flashed of his combative self during a first-half stint of a useful, competitive match.

The coach had said in the build-up he wasn't bothered about the result, and instead wanted to see strong individual displays.

To that end, he may have been satisfied with a spirited display as they blew away the rust in their first match since last November's Grand Final.

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Considering the conditions and it's pre-season, there were few errors from both sides.

The Warriors only scored one try - through Sam Powell in the opening half - and they played much of the second-half with a youthful line-up, who competed well.

Bateman, back after two years in the NRL with Canberra, started in the second-row despite Lam admitting he will play at loose forward when the new Super League campaign begins in less than two weeks.

Fellow new signing Jai Field missed out due to a back spasm injury while Dom Manfredi, Oliver Gildart, Liam Marshall and Australian duo Bevan French and Jackson Hastings were also absent.

The Warriors' 12 man bench included four youngsters given a taste of the senior level - Alex Sutton, Matty Nicholson, Aiden Roden and Brad O'Neil.

Joe Burgess - who left Wigan last year - was missing from Salford s side because of an ankle injury suffered in training but ex-Warriors Morgan Escare and Jack Wells played against their former club for the first time since departing.

In biting cold, the first half produced three tries but there was enough intensity to make this a better spectacle than some pre-season friendlies.

Brad Singleton set the tone with a ferocious first tackle of the game.

Salford's urgent start put Wigan under pressure but the they passed their early defensive test, and young winger Umyla Hanley did well to defuse one threat - and play the ball with his shorts around his ankles!

The Warriors, playing in their home kit while Salford wore away colours, worked their way into the match and it settled into a physical slug-fest with few chances for either side.

Midway through the first half, England centre Kallum Watkins broke the deadlock as he angled through under the sticks, Krisnan Inu tagging on the extras.

There's a danger to reading too much into friendlies but even so, there were some good signs from Lam's side.

Singleton brought aggression to the middle, Liam Farrell ran some nice lines - and Powell was looking sharp out of dummy-half even before he darted over in the 26th minute.

Zak Hardaker's goal locked the score but it didn't stay that way for long, as the hosts marched down field for Ken Sio to race onto a measured, angled grubber and touch down. Inu was again on target.

Ethan Havard showed up well in his first appearance since suffering a season-ending injury as Lam began rolling his subs.

James McDonnell, who had started at centre, took a charge-down flush in the face - but earned his side a strong attacking position, which they failed to capitalise on.

And that came back to bite as Salford countered well and, just as the game entered the final quarter, Wells punted the ball on for Escare to touch down in traffic to make it 16-6.

And with four minutes to go, Inu muscled over in the corner to extend their advantage.

Salford: Escare; Sio, Watkins, Sarginson, Inu; Lolohea, Brown; Ormondroyd, Ackers, Ikahihifo, Lannon, Pauli, Addy. Subs: Atkin, Costello, Aspey, Johnson, Livett, Taylor, Roberts, Wells, Williams, Greenwood.

Wigan: Hardaker; Hanley, Isa, McDonnell, Bibby; Leuluai, Smith; Partington, Powell, Singleton, Bateman, Farrell, Havard. Subs: Bullock, Byrne, Clark, Clubb, Halsall, Sutton, Kilner, Nicholson, O'Neil, Roden, Shorrocks, Smithies.

Referee: Chris Kendall

Half-time: 12-6