ERRORS COST RED DEVILS DEARLY

Wigan 34  Salford 20                 Match Report

Two brief spells, at the end of each half, saw the Wigan Warriors Reserves grab enough points to record a victory which appeared rather more emphatic than it actually was, in their home fixture with the Salford Red Devils.

In a concluding ten minutes of the first half, they succeeded, with two tries and a conversion, in overturning their visitors’ 14-6 lead to take a two-point advantage into the half time interval, and then in the final five minutes of the game stretched that tentative 22-20, two-point lead to fourteen, by means of two further, converted tries.

All of which was most dismaying for a brave Salford team that had not only matched their illustrious opponents for the remaining sixty-five minutes, but in many respects had been the better side. 

One aspect, however, in which they were second best, was in the number of handling errors they made, each of which presented the Warriors with more possession with which to gain momentum.  Add to that the fatiguing amount of defending this consequently incurs, and it becomes clear as to why the home side were able to secure the game towards the end of each half.

In every other aspect of their performance, though, the Reds  were outstanding, particularly in defence, but not only that, also with the power of their carries, their support for the ball carrier, their kicking game, and their exceptional commitment on a day in which temperatures rose continually throughout, thereby sapping energy levels well above the norm.

As if to show just how evenly balanced the two sides were, it took up to fifteen minutes for Wigan to open the scoring, and even then it came against the run of play, with an excellent Salford end-of-set kick turning fullback Hodkinson around, but, in so doing, enabling him to wrong-foot his nearest chaser and set up an eighty yard try, down the right edge, finished by scrum-half Farrimond, who added the goal.

Two minutes later, an extremely clever restart, by Nathan Connell, caused havoc in the Wigan ranks, giving possession to the Red Devils, which in turn led to their being awarded a penalty.  From the ensuing assault on the Wigan line, Charlie McCurrie took Jack Gatcliffe’s slick, short pass on the burst, and through a gap, for Salford’s first try.

The sin-binning of Wigan’s Eseh for interference with an injured player, in the twenty-first minute proved significant, with a great thirty metre scoot by hooker, Finley Yates, being finished off by the supporting Jordan Brown, who scored between the posts, and Gatcliffe adding the extras.

The introduction of Bardyl Wells into the fray, at this point, added significantly to the Red Devils’ effort, and, always someone to reckoned with, he, nevertheless, proceeded to have his best game in a Salford shirt, invariably needing three or more defenders to eventually bring his progresses to a halt.

On the back of this renewed vigour, the visitors proceeded to notch back-to-back tries, when the ever-improving, Connell, put up a high kick, which he chased and caught, to then race over for an unconverted try on the right putting the Reds in the lead at 6-14.

It was one of those Salford errors, however, on 30 mins, which gave possession to Wigan to score in the right-hand corner, and then, on 36 mins, after four back-to-back sets, they took that half-time lead with a converted try near the posts.

Twenty minutes of scoreless play, from the start of the second half, was broken by the Warriors, after Salford had been unable to take advantage of a kick-in-goal, and from the restart, with the Reds briefly down to twelve men due to on-field treatment to one of them, Wigan added another six points to move their score on to 22-14.

Even then, within five minutes,Salford had eradicated that score.  A magnificent wide pass out to the right wing, from Connell, found the unmarked Dan Harrison, who scored in the corner.  Gatcliffe landed the goal with his kick from the touchline.

From then on, right up to the seventy-fifth minute, the game could have gone either way, and indeed the Red Devils had the greater number of opportunities, but a combination of good Wigan defence and careless handling errors prevented this, with the Warriors’ counter-attacks proving decisive.

SALFORD

Ethan Fitzgerald, Daniel Harrison, George Charnock, Joshua Wagstaffe, Scott Egan, Nathan Connell, Jack Gatcliffe, Jordan Brown, Finley Yates, Alex Davidson, Charlie McCurrie, Henry Davies, John Hutchings

Substitutes

Bardyl Wells, Lewin Hough, George Hough, James Shields

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