Salford have made a habit of defying expectations this year.
And tonight’s trip to Wigan gives them another chance to do that – and end one of their longest hoodoos in the game. 20 years have passed since they last crossed across Lancashire and won a game in Wigan; you have to go way back to the second Super League season in 1997.
Since then, Wigan have won their last 19 home meetings with Salford, a record Ian Watson’s side will be looking to put right tonight at the DW Stadium.
Here’s what happened the last time Salford won there..
Wigan 14-21 Salford (Central Park, 17 August 1997)
Wigan tries: Radlinski, A Johnson, Robinson. Goal: Farrell
Salford tries: Broadbent, Edwards, Blakeley. Goals Blakeley 4. Drop goal: Lee
Wigan: Jason Robinson, Daryl Cardiss, Gary Connolly, Kris Radlinski, Andy Johnson; Henry Paul, Craig Murdock; Terry O’Connor, Jon Clarke, Neil Cowie, Simon Haughton, Mick Cassidy, Andy Farrell. Interchange Stephen Holgate, Gale Tallec, Paul Johnson, Lee Hansen.
Salford: Gary Broadbent; Fata Sini, Scott Naylor, Nathan McAvoy, Darren Rogers; Steve Blakeley, Mark Lee; Paul Southern, Peter Edwards, Cliff Eccles, John Cartwright, Esene Faimalo, Craig Randall. Interchange Lokeni Savelio, David Bradbury, Scott Martin, Ian Watson.
What They Said
Salford coach Andy Gregory: “I was totally embarrassed last week [against Warrington], but I was proud of everyone from 1 to 17 this week. We’ve had harsh words, and I have told them they’re supposed to be professional players, and I could not tolerate a display like last week – it wasn’t up to Super League standard. But no-one could deny we deserved this win.”
Wigan coach Eric Hughes: “We have a couple of players who just aren’t earning their money. I feel sorry for players like Jason Robinson, Andy Farrell, Kris Radlinski and Mick Cassidy, who are willing to put it in for the club every week. I feel we have a few others who are well paid but don’t give it that, and they’re the ones I don’t have a lot of time for. Some weeks I have to put up with players who don’t deserve to be put up with.”
Can Salford finally bring that lengthy and significant run of losses in Wigan to an end tonight? Ian Watson was playing for Salford that afternoon at Central Park – and chief executive Ian Blease was in the playing squad too – tonight, he aims to mastermind a victory as coach.