Salford 12 Wigan 40

Wigan Warriors Oliver Gildart celebrates as he runs in his sides sixth try during the Betfred Super League match at the AJ Bell Stadium, Salford
Wigan Warriors Oliver Gildart celebrates as he runs in his sides sixth try during the Betfred Super League match at the AJ Bell Stadium, Salford

Morgan Escare crowned his much-anticipated comeback with a sizzling try as Wigan made an impressive start to the new season.

The Warriors held a slender 10-6 lead early in the second-half when Frenchman Escare - playing his first competitive game since May - finished a sweeping left-side attack.

And Salford wilted from that point, as Shaun Wane’s side scored a further 24-points including an impressive double from winger Liam Marshall, before Niall Evalds grabbed a late consolation.

Sam Tomkins, heavily-involved in the second-half carve-up, finished with six goals from seven attempts.

Wigan fly out to Australia tomorrow lunchtime for an historic Super League match against Hull FC and an exhibition game South Sydney in New South Wales.

And they will be able reflect on a largely-encouraging first outing of the campaign.

Sure, they were scratchy at times, but they improved as the game unfolded, their error-count was low and they played with pace and panache, particularly during a dominant second-half.

Sam Tomkins again played a flexible role, starting at full-back and moving to half-back during the game when hooker Thomas Leuluai was rested around the half-hour mark - a switch which nudged Sam Powell from No.7 to dummy-half.

The ploy worked well, allowing fit-again Frenchman Escare to come off the bench to inject some pace and energy into proceedings.

By that point, Wigan held a 10-6 lead - Tom Davies and Oliver Gildart crossing, following Kris Welham’s opener.

And while they were unable to cross before half-time, they soon cut loose to delight the strong travelling following at a freezing AJ Bell Stadium.

Australian prop Gabriel Hamlin had to wait for his first Wigan appearance, while Dan Sarginson made a ‘second debut’.

Salford, now under the ownership of a supporters’ Trust, were without Mark Flanagan, Logan Tomkins and Kiwi winger Manu Vatuvei.

Ex-Warrior Lee Mossop led them out, with Sam Tomkins the skipper for the visitors in the absence of Sean O’Loughlin.

Joe Burgess (hip) and John Bateman (finger) also missed out, but are expected to be in contention for next weekend.

Marshall started on the left wing in place of Burgess, and was inches away from giving his side a dream start when he flapped at Sam Tomkins’ angled kick.

Salford countered well, sweeping down field far too easily to take a third-minute lead when Welham collected a grubber from Gareth O’Brien, who tagged on the extras.

Salford ran some good patterns and with Robert Lui pulling the strings, they tested the visitors’ defence, and Wigan’s left side put the blanket on two of their attacks.

Davies, who again ran strong, opened their account in the 12th minute when he squeezed over in the corner from Sarginson’s pass - moments after being crunched by a thunderous Junior Sa’u tackle.

Tomkins was unable to add the difficult conversion, but struck his first goal of the year in the 18th minute after Gildart had collected George Williams’ perfectly-placed drilled kick.

Wigan slackened off before the break, even after George Griffin has been sinbinned for a dangerous tackle, but Wane’s words at half-time revived their display.

Escare - back from a serious knee injury - finished off a wonderful try involving WIlliams, Gildart and Marshall.

Sarginson was guilty of wasting two half-chances, but they soon tightened their grip on the contest.

Williams attacked the line, offloaded to Sam Tomkins, who quickly threaded a kick into the ingoal for the alert Marshall to ground. Tomkins’ conversion made it 22-6.

Marshall scored an impressive second soon later, chipping the ball on before Evalds could defuse Williams’ kick, and regathering to score. And he turned provider moments later to send Gildart arcing over, Tomkins striking both goals to make it 34-6.

They maintained their dominance as Tony Clubb skittled the Red Devils’ defence on a surging drive to cross for a converted try. Evalds’ late consolation did little to dampen the mood of the travelling fans.

Salford: Evalds; Bibby, Welham, Sa’u, Johnson; Lui, O’Brien; Mossop, Wood, Tasi, Jones, Hauraki, McCarthy. Subs: Burgess, Griffin, Littlejohn, Kopczak.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Davies, Sarginson, Gildart, Marshall; Williams, Powell; Flower, Leuluai, Clubb, J Tomkins, Farrell, Sutton. Subs: Escare, Isa, Tautai, Nuuausala.

Referee: Robert Hicks

Half-time: 6-10

Starman: Sam Tomkins