Too many errors ultimately cost Salford Red Devils at the DW Stadium this evening.
Wigan Warriors went top of the Betfred Super League, as we slipped out of the top six with a 26-8 defeat in Round 24.
Paul Rowley was able to name an unchanged line-up for a fourth consecutive fixture and his side were aiming to earn a third win on the bounce.
After trading the first few sets, Ken Sio was bundled into touch by four Wigan players and the host began their first meaningful charge on the Salford line.
Despite conceding a six-again, some good D – particularly from Ollie Partington – forced a loose pass from Harry Smith, which bobbled into touch.
Down the other end, Chris Atkin was on the receiving end of a nasty tackle from Bevan French, with Ryan Brierley knocking over two points from the resulting penalty-goal.
It wasn’t long until the Warriors hit back, however. Liam Farrell skipped past three Red Devils’ players on the left edge to slide over.
Errors hampered Salford’s attacking play; like one instance a few minutes later where no-one was at dummy-half when Danny Addy had the ball just a metre from the Wigan line.
Brierley pulled us level just before the half-hour mark – with the boot again when Farrell was penalised for leaving the scrum too early.
The hosts were straight back on the attack and when Tim Lafai pulled back Kai Pearce-Paul on the last, another full set to defend on our own line ultimately proved costly.
Some quick hands on the right edge released Abbas Miski and the Lebanese international did the rest.
That try put Wigan right on top and Jai Field’s neat cut-out pass just minutes later allowed Jake Wardle to crash over.
Salford needed the half-time hooter to regroup, but it was their last off-the-cuff play that perhaps sealed defeat.
Sneyd tried a high bomb, with multiple Salford bodies in pursuit, but Field was underneath to claim and race the full length with open grass.
HALF-TIME: Wigan Warriors 20-4 Salford Red Devils
There were some promising moments in attack throughout the contest, but our execution was just off.
Chris Atkin’s break early in the second-half was one example, with Croft almost finishing the job before a few Wigan bodies managed to claw the Aussie back.
The job got even harder when King Vuniyayawa was sent to the sin bin. Sam Stone lost possession and when it looked like French was making a quick break, the Fijian caught him high.
Wigan took advantage of the numbers and Field’s probing attack allowed French to flick a creative pass out to Toby King, who strolled over and under the sticks.
That was Wigan’s only points of the second half, with a tired-looking 13 working really hard to keep the danger-men from inflicting any more damage.
Going the other way, Brierley’s double-pump sent Sio away in the corner, for our only try of the evening.
The full-time hooter signalled defeat, but attentions will now quickly turn to a vital home clash with Warrington Wolves next Sunday, live on Channel 4.
FULL-TIME: Wigan Warriors 26-8 Salford Red Devils
Photo credit: James Giblin Photography