Aussie rule

Brian Noble lauded makeshift stand-off Michael Withers following Wigan's last-gasp win over Salford in their latest pre-season warm-up game.

The Warriors boss hailed the Australian star's versatility and praised him for stepping into the half-back role in the absence of the injured Trent Barrett for last night's game at The Willows, which the Warriors won 15-20 with a late Phil Bailey try.

"The nice thing with Mick is that you can play him at No.1 to 7, he's a very good player. He'd done no practice at six and didn't look out of place at all," Noble said.

"His nickname is 'the ghost' and you could see why, he's deceptively quick, he's very strong and he's got an eye for an opening."

But the former Bradford back, who has followed Noble from Odsal to the JJB, wasn't the only player to impress, with the forwards especially catching his eye.

Said Noble: "We certainly looked a tough team. I thought defensively we were very good at times."

He added: "I thought the two young front-rowers pushed hard for spots, Eamon O'Carroll and Paul Prescott, they did really well. Millard had a decent

performance too, showing what he can do in and around the ruck.

"Gareth Hock was a handful, Iafeta Palea'aesina was a handful, as was Fielden."

With the start of Super League now less than a fortnight away both sides fielded strong squads for the clash, which was Malcolm Alker's testimonial match.

Barrett was Wigan's only close season signing not in the line up and Salford were at almost full strength but for long-term injury victims Karl Fitzpatrick and Ian Sibbitt.

Noble felt it was a better performance from his side, playing in their new black away strip for the first time, and was relieved to come through the game unscathed.

"It was a tough game for a testimonial game," he said.

"I thought both teams were pretty confident and pretty strong in their structure.

"I was really pleased and we have got Trent Barrett to add to the mix yet and we managed to keep everybody healthy."

Mark Calderwood's try, converted by Pat Richards, had given Wigan an early lead but David Hodgson levelled for the home side before Harrison Hansen and youngster David Gower traded tries to leave it level at the break.

Hodgson's second put Salford ahead for the first time but Danny Hill scored to bring Wigan back in it.

Hodgson looked to have sealed the win with his 36th-minute drop goal which put the Reds 15-14 up until

Bailey soured Alker's night seconds from time.