Super League: Wigan Warriors 45-4 Salford Red Devils

Wigan (16) 45

Tries: Bowen, Gelling 3, Charnley, Williams, Clubb, Smith Goals: Smith 6 Drop-goal: Smith

Salford (0) 4

Tries: Griffin

Anthony Gelling scored a hat-trick as Wigan climbed back into second place in Super League by thrashing Salford.

Matty Bowen, Gelling and Josh Charnley scored as Wigan led 16-0 at the break.

Gelling scored his second immediately after the restart before Joel Tomkins made his return to rugby league and a Wigan shirt off the interchange bench.

Josh Griffin pulled one back but Gelling's hat-trick score and tries from George Williams, Tony Clubb and Matty Smith completed the rout.

Victory took Wigan back above Leeds and to within two points of leaders St Helens, but the Rhinos can reclaim second spot if they beat West Yorkshire rivals Bradford Bulls on Friday.

However, the result did Salford's slim hopes of reaching the play-offs no favours as they remain four points behind eighth-placed Widnes with four games to play.

A hero returns

Joel Tomkins scored 41 tries in 120 Super League appearances during his first spell at Wigan and played in their 2010 Grand Final win over St Helens.

Wigan, beaten by the relegated Bulls last Sunday, opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Bowen got his fingertips on Smith's grubber kick just before the ball went dead.

They benefitted from a little good fortune for their second try as a short Salford goal-line drop-out bounced favourably and two tackles later Gelling powered through two challengers to score wide out.

Charnley danced his way over for Warriors' third try from their very next set of six, and when Gelling scored his second with a powerful cross-field run from dummy half within two minutes of the start of the second period, the home side were in full control.

Tomkins, back at Wigan after a spell in rugby union with Saracens, during which he won three England caps, was given a warm welcome when he came on as a 54th-minute replacement.

But it was Salford who scored next when Griffin refused to give up on Rangi Chase's kick to the corner and reached around Bowen to touch down as the Warriors full-back tried to shepherd the ball out of play.

Smith extended Wigan's lead with a drop-goal before they ran riot with four tries in the final 12 minutes.

First Bowen sent Gelling clear to complete his hat-trick before Williams scored a stunning solo try with a run from inside his own half.

Clubb pounced on poor Salford handling to kick the ball ahead for the simplest of scores before Smith, who also kicked six conversions, weaved his way into the corner for his side's eighth try.

Wigan coach Shaun Wane:

"I'm really proud. It's been a real tough week, probably our toughest and most honest since I've been head coach and they responded well.

"It was a very satisfying win. We wanted to stand up and be aggressive and we were. We were pretty ruthless.

"We have got a lot of young players in our team, a lot of local kids, and they were playing against a team with hand-picked players from all over world.

"Yet we put 40-odd points on them with seven or eight regulars missing, so we're in good shape. The players have now got four days off and they've deserved it."

Salford coach Iestyn Harris:

"I don't think we're in a position to be thinking about the top eight.

"We just didn't do the things we've been doing for the last seven weeks. We didn't work hard for each other. We cut corners and allowed them to play on the front foot, so it was only a matter of time before we started to concede points.

"Habits are strange old things, you have to work extremely hard to be consistent. Tonight we chose to have a day off, we didn't do the things we have worked desperately hard to change and we learned a big lesson."

Thursday's line-ups

Wigan: Bowen, Charnley, Gelling, Sarginson, Manfredi, Williams, Smith, Clubb, S. Powell, Flower, Bateman, L. Farrell, O'Loughlin.

Replacements: Taylor, Tomkins, Dudson, James.

Salford: Evalds, Johnson, Caton-Brown, Sa'u, J. Griffin, Chase, Fages, Morley, Lee, D. Griffin, Ashurst, Hansen, Puletua.

Replacements: Tasi, Rapira, J. Walne, Tomkins.

Att: 12,962

Referee: Phil Bentham (RFL)