Wigan Warriors 18 Salford Red Devils 12: Five things we learned

Five things we learned from Wigan's 18-12 win against Salford

Saturday, 21st September 2019, 10:11 am
Burgess and Gildart

1. Wigan are poised for a fourth derby against St Helens this year - and what a derby it should be.

From hovering above the relegation zone to moving to within 80 minutes of a Grand Final, it has been an astonishing turnaround.

Their reward for beating Salford was a trip to Saints on Friday night, with a place at Old Trafford awaiting the winners and a second-chance - against either Salford or Castleford - the week later. Wigan haven't beaten Saints in three attempts this year and it appears they will head to the Totally Wicked Stadium without Sam Powell, who suffered a wrist injury which is threatening his involvement in the rest of the series.

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2. Adrian Lam's side were scratchy with the ball, but the defensive effort was incredible - in a game described by Oliver Gildart as the toughest of the year.

Locked 6-6 at half-time, a two-try burst put them in front and they clung on, scrambling tirelessly to repel Salford's attacks.

The game became more engrossing as it went on, with drama, twists, controversy and great plays delivered thick and fast.

3. On a night when Wigan's Under-19s won the academy Grand Final, a player who was eligible to play appeared in the first-team - and broke a Super League record!

According to official statistics, Morgan Smithies motored through 72 tackles against Salford, breaking the previous high set of 66 set by Steele Retchless in 1998... two years before the Wigan forward was born!

4. Will Tony Clubb be in hot-water with the judiciary?

The prop brought energy and aggression to the Wigan defence and was involved in a bizarre head-to-head with Jackson Hastings off-the-ball - while Salford were attacking Wigan's line!

But Red Devils coach Ian Watson was disappointed no action was taken against the prop for a late challenge as Hastings went over for his try, and believes the judiciary may need to examine how the Australian playmaker sustained an eye injury during another clash with him.

The RFL's match review panel will view the game on Monday before issuing any charges.

5. The crowd of 9,247 was the lowest attendance for a Wigan home game this year - and came just 24 hours after 5,000-plus watched Warrington's play-offs match with Castleford.

There's a certain irony that the biggest games of the season get the lower attendances, but this is not a new play-offs problem.

It's not unlikely Wigan could play on four successive weekends in the post-season, in matches not covered by season tickets, making it an expensive period for fans.

Wigan offered £5 discount to season ticket holders but if Super League want more fans at these games, maybe they should consider bolder action - bigger price reductions, perhaps.