Round Ten of Super League 2022 saw the return of Channel 4 coverage as they set up their cameras at the DW Stadium, home of the Wigan Warriors, for the visit of the Salford Red Devils as the home side looked to return to the top of table on the same points as St Helens.
The biggest news out of Wigan this week was the permanent departure of Zak Hardaker from Matt Peet´s side, but they also came into the game without the services of Sam Powell and Tommy Leuluai. The Red Devils are also without a host of stars with Tim Lafai, Deon Cross, Shane Wright, Ryan Lannon and notably Marc Sneyd all missing from their side.
The bookies thought that there would only be one winner, giving the Red Devils an eighteen-point start on the coupon.
Only four minutes had elapsed when Jai Field spotted his first opportunity of the game as he went through a massive gap on the halfway line to outsprint the chasing Salford defenders and score by the right uprights. Harry Smith added the conversion for a 6-0 home lead, the early signs already looking good for Wigan.
Salford weren´t going to go down without a fight and after a Chris Atkin break down the centre was halted; the Red Devils earned a repeat set close to the Wigan line followed quickly by a penalty and with just over ten minutes on the clock King Vuniyayawa crashed over and grounded under the sticks. Ryan Brierley added a simple conversion to level the scores.
Salford were in the front on seventeen thanks to a superb Brierley line break and offload to Matt Costello to complete from five metres out, the Red Devils centre grounding under the uprights to give the try creator a simple conversion for 12-6 and good value for their lead.
A Brad O´Neill miss-out pass to Cade Ellis on twenty-two put the prop forward over from a few metres out and moved Wigan to two points adrift. Smith added the conversion to level the scores in an end-to-end encounter.
A delightful dummy and inside pass from Cade Cust put Liam Farrell through a gap to score from ten metres out and edge the Warriors back in front on twenty-nine minutes. The try again originated from a penalty, the Red Devils indiscipline starting to cost them points. Smith added the conversion to put the Warriors 18-12 ahead.
On thirty-three the gap was extended as Harry Smith stepped off his left foot off a Farrell pass to go through a hole in the defence and run twenty metres to score. Smith converted his own try to put his side twelve points clear at the interval.
Salford drew first blood in the second half with a rolling move downfield which culminated in a Brodie Croft grubber kick on the last tackle which was caught and grounded by Alex Gerrard by the right upright. Brierley added the goal, the deficit back down to six points with thirty-five minutes remaining.
On fifty-three Ken Sio intercepted a Cust pass just twenty metres from his own line and sprinted the length of the field to eventually walk in for the try. Brierley added the conversion to level the scores at 24-24. The Warriors had a battle on their hands.
Both sides made mistakes as they pushed for the points but with no further scores the game entered the last ten minutes all-square.
A high tackle from Vuniyayawa on Farrell gifted the Warriors the ball deep in Salford territory but when Joe Shorrocks ran behind his own player the home side surrendered possession with six minutes remaining on the clock.
Morgan Escare attempted a drop goal from the halfway line on seventy-seven but the ball fell short and as Wigan returned the ball Field outpaced the Salford defence to go down the right wing and score s ninety-five metre try from nothing to win the game and take the points. Smith added the conversion for 30-24, Wigan scrambling the points thanks to a moment of Field genius.
Another fabulous game for Channel 4 to carry to the nation with Salford ripping up the form book and giving Wigan a massive challenge to pick up the points. All credit to the Red Devils for putting up the battle but it was a moment of class from the Warriors full back as he returned the attempted drop goal, avoided the forlorn attempts at tackles from Red Devils players, and sprinted to the line for his second try of the game.
Wigan Warriors: Field (2T), French, Thornley, Bibby, Marshall, Cust, Smith (T, 4G), Ellis (T), O´Neill, Byrne, Farrell (T), Bateman, Smithies. Subs: Mago, Partington, Havard, Shorrocks.
Salford Red Devils: Brierley (4G), Sio (T), Cross, Costello (T), Williams, Atkin, Croft, Burke, Ackers, Vuniyayawa (T), Addy, Watkins, Taylor. Subs: Ormondroyd, Gerrard (T), Escare, Luckley.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0. 6-4, 6-6, 6-10, 6-12, 10-12, 12-12, 16-12, 18-12, 22-12, 24-12 : HT : 24-16, 24-18, 24-22, 24-24, 28-24, 30-24 : FT.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths.