Salford Red Devils 32 Wigan Warriors 16

Willie Isa in action at Salford
Willie Isa in action at Salford

WIGAN head into the new Super League campaign without a first team win in pre-season following this comprehensive defeat at Salford.

All the visitors’ points were scored in the final 13 minutes as tries by Dom Manfredi, Oliver Gildart and Tony Clubb gave the scoreline a more credible look.

History has taught Shaun Wane not too read too much into pre-season results, but he will surely find areas to address before their opening competitive game on February 5.

The game was wide open in the first half-an-hour, when Salford held a slender 6-0 lead.

But three home tries before the break turned the game on its head, and the Warriors weren’t able to salvage the result after the interval.

As predicted, Wane named a stronger squad than the one edged out 26-20 at Leigh a week earlier.

But they were still missing a clutch of their best players, including the likes of Sean O’Loughlin, Liam Farrell, John Bateman, Dan Sarginson and injured Sam Tomkins.

Former St Helens utility Mark Flanagan crossed from short-range to open up an early 6-0 lead.

But for half-an-hour, the skill level from both sides was quite high and with few penalties from Phil Bentham, the spectacle was even, free-flowing and entertaining.

Wigan - wearing their new blue and white hooped away shirts - pushed for a response with surging charges from Ben Flower, in particular, testing the Red Devils line, which held firm.

Carney intercepted Lewis Tierney’s pass under-pressure to thwart another raid - the Wigan full-back made amends minutes later with a try-saving tackle on the ex-Castleford winger.

On the half-hour Salford took a grip of the game when a passing exchange to their left side finished with Josh Griffin cutting through a disjointed right-side defence for their second try.

Wigan’s prospects of clawing back the 12-point deficit were harmed when Williams left the game after taking a heavy knock.

And that challenge grew bigger as Salford raced in two further tries before half-time, both down Wigan’s right side.

First, Dobson stepped through to touch down, and moments later Junior Sa’u beat Anthony Gelling to advance the ball, he fed O’Brien, who sent stand-off Lui over to make it 22-0 at the break.

After an initial bright period from the restart, Wigan fell further behind when Ryan Lannon cut beyond Macauley Davies on a determined, angled run and then had the power to beat Tierney to the line before Greg Johnson swelled their advantage to 32-0 with half-an-hour to play.

With both sides making the most of their unlimited substitutions, Wigan were able to finish with a flourish in the final 15 minutes.

Manfredi grounded Gelling’s neat stab through in the 67th minute to give the travelling fans something to cheer about.

Further tries followed by Gildart and then Tony Clubb, both from short range, and both converted by Powell to take the score to 32-16.