Super League: Salford Red Devils 16-26 Wigan Warriors
|Betfred Super League|
|Salford (0) 16|
|Tries: Brining, Sa'u, Dobson Goals: O'Brien 2|
|Wigan (26) 26|
|Tries: Gildart 2, Burgess, Williams, Tomkins Goals: Escare 3|
Champions Wigan made a winning start to their Super League title defence despite a determined second-half fightback by Salford.
Two tries from Oliver Gildart, plus scores by Joe Burgess, George Williams and Joel Tomkins established a 26-0 half-time lead for the Warriors.
Salford battled back after the break, with ex-York hooker Kriss Brining crossing for a debut touchdown.
Tries by Junior Sa'u and Michael Dobson gave Salford hope, but Wigan hung on.
The visitors made a clinical start to the game, and all five first-half tries were scored by home-grown talents, with Williams' creativity and footwork the key.
Burgess, on his return from a spell in Australia, laid on Gildart's first, and then crossed for one of his own.
However, Wigan failed to register a point after the interval against spirited opponents, a potential concern with NRL champions Cronulla to come in the World Club Challenge next week.
Salford, who retained their top-flight place in the Million Pound Game last season, failed to seriously trouble the Warriors in the first half.
After the break they found some joy in the Wigan defensive line, but they had left themselves with too much to do.
Salford head coach Ian Watson: "The first half for whatever reason wasn't us and we spoke about a response at half-time. We've got to be better than that. The first half was poor, we bombed a few opportunities and that's when we need to dig in and grind it out.
"It disrupts you a little bit [losing Robert Lui and Junior Sa'u to head knocks in the opening phases]. Wigan started getting on a roll and played a bit too fast for us.
"We've got to perform like we did in the second half for 80 minutes. It will be a good opportunity against Huddersfield next Thursday to see if we have learned our lessons from today."
Wigan head coach Shaun Wane: "It was a good win but we've lots to work on. We'll review it and get down to some hard work for next week. It was hard to concentrate on this game when we've got the World Club Challenge next week.
"That means a lot to our town and I'll be getting some players in from 30 years ago (Wane's Wigan team-mates from the 1987 World Club Challenge victory over Manly) to talk to them.
"We will need to be a lot better and will be. We never got the ball in the second half and lost our way when Sam Powell was off but I had to rest him. We had to blow the cobwebs off today. We'll be okay next week, I'm happy with where we're at."
Salford: O'Brien; Johnson, Evalds, Sa'u, Carney; Lui, Dobson; Kopczak, Wood, Mossop, Jones Griffin, Flanagan.
Interchanges: Brining, Krasniqi, Tasi, Walne
Wigan: Escare, Tierney, Gelling, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Leuluai; Nuuausala, Powell, Flower, Isa, Farrell, O'Loughlin.
Interchanges: J.Tomkins, Clubb, Tautai, Sutton
Referee: Ben Thaler.