Salford 24 Wigan 18

Ryan Hampshire evades the Salford defence
Ryan Hampshire evades the Salford defence

WIGAN’S search for their first away win of the season continues after they were edged out in a tense encounter at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Ryan Hampshire’s try in the 68th minute cut the margin to four points and set up a dramatic finish.

But the visitors failed to produce the breakthrough to salvage the result. And with four minutes to go, Niall Evalds pounced for his second try to secure the Red Devils their first victory against the Warriors since 2006.

Both sides finished the game with 12-men after Weller Hauraki and John Bateman were sent-off for fighting - just minutes after they had returned from the sinbin for the same offence.

The drama didn’t end there, as Joe Burgess managed a late try from George Williams’ teasing kick through, but it proved scant consolation.

The defeat ended Wigan’s perfect run over the Easter period which stretched back to 2010.

They showed effort in the spring sunshine but their performance rarely had the same energy and composure as they showed in their 12-4 win against St Helens three days earlier.

The Warriors had won their last two Easter Monday games by 84-6 - against Hull KR and Bradford - but from the opening exchanges it was obvious this would be a much sterner test.

Wigan broke the deadlock when Matty Smith’s towering kick was collected by Burgess, and he dribbled the ball inside for Larne Patrick to regather and blaze away. Ryan Hampshire’s conversion gave them a 6-0 lead.

The home side, who lost Cory Paterson and Tommy Lee to injuries, were penalised for offside in front of their sticks and Hampshire’s boot pushed Wigan’s advantage to eight points.

But Salford were much-improved from the recent sides which Wigan have swept aside in recent seasons. Cohesive and aggressive, they had gone into this game having lost just one of their past six matches, and they crafted two tries before half-time by Evalds and Michael Dobson.

Time and again Wigan lacked the creativity to trouble the Red Devils, and it was punished when Ben Jones Bishop skipped past Hampshire on the way to the line to make it 18-8 as the game entered the final quarter.

Both sides were reduced to 12-men for 10 minutes when Bateman and Hauraki were sinbinned for their roles in a melee, in which Anthony Gelling and Josh Griffin also traded blows.

Wigan gave themselves hope when they muscled their way down field, and Hampshire charged onto McIlorum’s sweet pass and angled over for a try he converted himself to cut the margin to just four points.

Salford: Evalds; Jones-Bishop, Griffin, Sa’u, Johnson; Chase, Dobson; Taylor, Lee, Morley, Paterson, Hauraki, Hansen. Subs: Hood, Griffin, Tasi, Forster.

Wigan: Hampshire; Tierney, Gelling, Sarginson, Burgess; Williams, Smith; Tautai, McIlorum, Mossop, Bateman, L Farrell, Patrick. Subs: Clubb, L Tomkins, Sutton, C Farrell.