The Easter bank holiday will see Salford Red Devils take on Wigan Warriors at the The Salford Stadium on Monday 22ndApril at 3:00pm.
The two teams will meet for the second time in this seasons Betfred Super League but, despite Salford being four points ahead of Wigan, Ian Watson’s side are yet to win against The Riversides.
Watson and Adrian Lam last came face to face on the 23rdMarch. However, the Devils fell to a narrow eight-point defeat after stand-off George Williams scored a hat-trick of tries for the reigning league champions Wigan.
Adam Walker managed to bag his first Red Devil’s try on his home debut. Disparringly, Salford’s defence failed to hold off, resulting in a 22-30 defeat.
The two Super League teams have followed a similar path – both leaving their spiritual homes in recent decades. Salford moved from the Willows to the The Salford Stadium at the start of the 2012 season, whereas Wigan upped sticks from the famous Central Park to the DW Stadium in 1999. Historically, both venues hosted some spectacular matches between the two teams.
Many big names in rugby league have represented both North West clubs. Some include Martin Offiah (MBE), Martin Gleeson and Andy Gregory.
Rugby League legend Steve Hampson also dedicated part of his career to both teams said: “My move to Salford meant a lot to me.”
When the fullback joined Salford in 1995, the Rugby League was in the midst of a massive transformation. Once filled with frozen pitches and dark mornings, all matches that were once played during the winter months were moved into the spring.
Looking back on his transfer Hampson said: “When I first moved to Salford, we were in the division below the Super League. We were playing rugby in the winter then had a four week turn around before we played again in the summer.
“We managed to win the league in the winter, then win it again a year later, more like six months later in fact, in order to get into the Super League.
“We only had a couple of weeks break before starting up again, so it was a great achievement.”
The Great Britain representative joined Salford in the twilight of his career and one game that he clearly recalls was the Challenge Cup match in which Salford were victors against a mighty Wigan side.
Hampson said: “Believe it or not, after all the great moments in a Wigan shirt, the one that sticks in my mind is beating my old side in the Challenge Cup back in 1996. Wigan had actually been involved in the final of the cup for the previous 8 years.
“I had been fired off by Wigan a few years before I moved to Salford, and it was great because we actually ended up knocking my old side out.
“Wigan had quite a big pack but our forwards were quite nippy, so we just ran rings around them.”
The match saw one of the biggest shocks of Challenge Cup history as for the previous eight years the competition had been renamed the ‘Wigan Cup’. There were in fact a number of Wigan old boys on the Salford team that day, including Steve Blakely, Sam Panapa and Scott Naylor.
Looking ahead of Monday’s game Hampson predicts: “I am still a massive fan of rugby league, I watch it most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
“I think Monday’s game will be very close. Salford are playing extremely well at the moment. Ian Watson has got his team working very very well. I know Salford and Wigan both had a game on Friday and it’s always a difficult turn around to back up a Friday game.”
The game kicks off at 3pm with the gates opening at 12:30 for all corporate hospitality guests. All other ticket holders are welcome from 1:45pm. However, make sure you get down to the stadium early to check out the supporters marquee which is running from 12pm.
At half time, Salford’s own Red Angels Cheerleaders will be accompanied by Dr Devil and his t-shirt cannon. One lucky t-shirt will contain a golden ticket entitling the safe pair of hands to a VIP experience. This will include a seat on the bench at the next home game!
Tickets for Salford Red Devils home fixtures are available to purchase from the AJ Bell Stadium Ticket Office, over the phone on 0161 786 1570 or 0161 786 1574 or online by clicking HERE.
The The Salford Stadium Ticket Office is open Monday-Friday, 9:30am-9:30pm and 10:00am-4:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
You will save money by purchasing in advance. However tickets can be bought on the day from any ticket office, please note that North Stand is cash only.
There are also a limited number of 1873 suite tickets left so why not treat yourself to a cash bar, suite amenities and executive west stand seats? Season ticket holders can also upgrade.
Ian Watson’s team remains unchanged from their previous match against Warrington Wolves at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Salford: Niall Evalds, Kris Welham, Junior Sa’u, Jake Bibby, Rob Lui, Josh Wood, Gil Dudson, Josh Jones, George Griffin, Mark Flanagan, Joey Lussick, Adam Walker, Greg Burke, Tyrone McCarthy, Ben Nakubuwai, Daniel Murray, Derrell Olpherts, Krisnan Inu, Jackson Hastings.
Wigan: Bourouh, Bullock, Burgess, Escare, Flower, Gildart, Greenwood, Hankinson, Hardaker, Isa, Leuluai, Marshall, O’Loughlin, Partington, Shorrocks, Smith, Smithies, Tautai, Williams.