Wigan (14) 38
- Tries: Richards 2, Tomkins, Goulding, Hughes, Hansen, O'Loughlin
- Goals: Richards 5
Salford (0) 6
- Tries: James
- Goals: Holdsworth
Pat Richards made a happy return at the DW Stadium as Super League leaders Wigan crushed neighbours Salford to strengthen their hold on top spot.
After four months out with a knee injury, Richards took just 12 minutes to score a try on his comeback.
His second, after one from Sam Tomkins, earned a 14-0 half-time lead.
Darrell Goulding, Jack Hughes, Harrison Hansen and Sean O'Loughlin all crossed in the second half, Richards kicking five goals, before Jordan James' reply.
- Pat Richards has now run in 119 Super League tries in his seven seasons with Wigan
- Jordan James' only previous try this season was also against Wigan in the 40-20 defeat at the City of Salford Stadium in late March
Following Warrington's shock defeat at London Broncos on Friday night, that stretched Wigan's lead back to three points with just two games left as they bid to reclaim their League Leaders' Shield.
Richards had not featured since the 56-12 win at Hull on 22 April, having undergone knee surgery.
But, having run up 26 points on his previous appearance, he looked like he had never been away with a two-try, 18-point individual haul.
Inside the first 21 minutes, he had scored his two tries as well as sending full-back Tomkins over for the second.
But, overall, Richards' exploiuts excepted, the Warriors, so disappointing in their previous game, when they lost 30-10 at Warrington nine days before, produced another flat performance.
Salford, up against Matty Smith for the first time since he signed for Wigan in June, gave a debut to 20-year-old forward Adam Walne in a patched-up side.
And it was his solo burst a minute from the end that avoided Salford being nilled as he created a consolation try for prop James.
VIEW FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Wigan coach Shaun Wane:
"It's great to have Pat Richards back. He only played 40 minutes for our Under-20s but he said he felt good and I had no qualms about putting him back in. He's got a big smile on his face.
"He's a great player and a good asset for us on our left edge. No disrespect to Josh Charnley, but there were certain kicks tonight that you knew Paddy was going to get.
"Our defence was fantastic. Salford have been scoring plenty of points so that pleased me. I would love for it to be nil but that wasn't to be.
"I was pleased with our line speed and desire to get into contact. That was one thing we needed to improve and we did that today."
Salford coach Phil Veivers:
"I'll take that with the amount of ball we coughed up. We invited them to score against us.
"They were at full strength and we were missing 10 players that would have started.
"They threw a lot at us and they bombed a few tries. I also thought there were some poor decisions that cost us two tries.
"I thought we hung in there pretty good in the first half. Defensively we cut a lot of their threats down. They all had a go, they just weren't smart enough at times."
MONDAY NIGHT'S LINE-UPS
S Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Richards; Finch, Smith; Lima, McIlorum, Mossop, Hansen, Hock, O'Loughlin.
Farrell, Lauaki, Flower, Hughes.
Patten; Broughton, Gleeson, Veivers, Williams; Holdsworth, Howarth; Boyle, Anderson, Sidlow, Adamson, Ashurst, Wild.
Neal, Walne, James, Owen.
Tim Roby (RFL).