Friday, 23 May 2014

Young Warriors School Red Devils

After the stunning Magic Weekend victory over Leeds, Wigan faced a short turnaround as the injury ravaged and youthful Warriors travelled to Salford last night for the round 14 opener.

Blake Green's injury on Saturday meant the 17 named for last night's game at the AJ Bell Stadium averaged only 21 years of age pale in comparison to the strong and older Salford side who seemed to have the better start in piling the pressure on Wigan which saw Sarginson knock on to give the hosts possession in a good position only for Hansen to waste the chance by knocking on himself.

Both sides seem to be struggling in ball handling due to the wet conditions but Salford looked to have taken an early advantage as a nice passage of play saw Meli score in the corner but Bentham asked for a review and after numerous replays the try was denied and Wigan breathed a sigh of relief.

Three minutes later the video referee was called into action again but to judge on a Wigan effort after Matty Smith found Hampshire with the fullback crossing the Salford line, the review of the try saw a second denial of the game leaving both sides level.

Wigan came achingly close to breaking the deadlock when a superb kick from Powell looked to be finding the grasp of Burgess on the wing but sadly the young Winger ran out of room before the dead ball line and the chance of a try slipped away.

Salford responded and on the final tackle of their set they got lucky with Hampshire's mistake giving them a good chance from a goal-line dropout with Wigan's fans in dismay at seeing McIlorum replaced so early meaning a potential addition to a growing injury list.

The review system was utilised for a third time in under 28 minutes when Hock crossed for Salford after a strong attacking set from the Red Devils but on the replay it was clear he had committed a double movement so another no try was announced.

Wigan quelled the pressure on their defence and went on the attack before being awarded a penalty just metres from the Salford line after Manfredi had been tackled in mid-air when attempting to receive the ball and in the resulting set, a nice passage of play saw Sarginson cross for a try but yet again Bentham asked for a review to the clear annoyance of both sets of fans.

Alike the previous three efforts, a no try was announced and with only seven minutes left until the interval, the prospect of a scoreless first 40 minutes was on the cards. However, in the dying seconds of the first half, Matty Smith showed skills akin to a professional footballer with a double pass forward from the boot with his second flighted perfectly for Bateman to take and touch down over the Salford line.

Of course, the decision went to a review as it seemed Bentham was unable to actually award a try himself and to the joy of the Wigan fans behind the posts, the try was given to end the hopes of a level half-time score which was added to by an easy conversion by Matty Smith for 0-6 at the interval.

Wigan came out for the second half clearly inspired by the traditional war cry from Shaun Wane as they extended their lead only five minutes into the second half as after forcing a dropout for Salford, some quick play from Powell saw him cross for a try but as was becoming a trend in the game, Bentham asked for a review but after replays the try was awarded and Smith converted for a 0-12 lead for the young Wiganers.

Salford's woes increased further when a stunning run from Hampshire sucked in the Red Devils defence allowing him to easily find Burgess on the wing with the Wigan No 32 racing over the line to be greeted with the surprise of a seventh review of the evening. A few rewinds and replays later, the try was awarded and Smith kicked a tough but superb conversion for 0-18 leaving Salford with a huge task ahead of them in order to comeback and win.

The comeback looked to have begun when Salford crossed the Wigan line just minutes later but another review resulted in a no try and the home fans frustration grew further as the Wigan fans seemed to revel in the downfall of their hosts.

A three score lead with ten minutes to go was not a guarantee of the win and Wigan knew exactly that when Smith kicked a spectacular drop goal to extended the lead to 0-19 requiring four or more scores from the Red Devils.

However, any hopes of such a miraculous comeback ended in style as Manfredi picked out fellow his fellow Winger who raced the length of the Salford half to touch down for his second try of the night to the tune of "There's only one Joe Burgess" from the ecstatic Wigan faithful in the North stand with Smith converting for a 0-25 lead.

The win now sealed, Wigan's goal turned to a potential nilling of their hosts but in the final minute, Salford ended that pursuit with a try as Meli crossed in what was a small consolation and lacking of a shine when Tim Smith missed the conversion to leave the final score 4-25 to the victorious Wigan side who as a result move up to second in the table.