Salford v Wigan Betting Preview | 11th February 2017
SUPER LEAGUE expert Kaine Greenwood (@KaineG23) previews Wigan’s opening game of the 2017 season, picking out his best bets from Saturday’s trip to Salford.
Salford welcome the 2017 season along with in-house hopes of being involved in the Grand Final shake-up rather than the relegation tussle that saw them compete in the ‘Million Pound Game’ showdown with Hull KR at the culmination of 2016.
Having been mere seconds from the drop it seems like Ian Watson’s task in making that a reality will be tough to say the least.
They do, however, get an early chance to test those ambitions against a real yardstick on such matters as Wigan enter town on the back of four consecutive years contesting the Old Trafford showpiece – the 2016 silverware proudly sitting in a cabinet of the DW trophy room.
The home side have a devilishly bad record when it comes to opening fixtures in recent years having lost six of the last seven so I can’t imagine a visit from defending Grand Final winners was desired. Indeed, these two sides met first-up in the 2013 Super League season when the Warriors ran in eight tries without reply.
It is also worth noting that the Red Devils have still yet to receive word on whether recent (and major) signing Todd Carney’s visa application has been successful.
Should it be, you’d expect the former Dally M winner to be straight in the fold and add to their midfield, however, such uncertainty on the situation just days before the season will not have aided preparations for such a clash.
Wigan open up the campaign with designs on emulating their early season form of 12 months ago when they claimed victory in seven of the first eight rounds.
In pursuit of this they welcome back both Thomas Leulaui and Joe Burgess to a Wigan jersey but have lost significant players in Josh Charnley, Dan Sarginson, and Dom Crosby.
Oliver Gildart and Frank-Paul Nuuausala will look to cover those latter two losses from within the camp and in Morgan Escare the Warriors might have snared a bargain. Unwanted at his native Catalans, this represents a fresh start for a 25-year-old that took Super League by storm in his first two seasons.
Though highly unlikely to be another whitewash victory for the Warriors on this visit, with the likes Escare, Williams, Gildart, Gelling and Burgess in the backline I feel they will open their campaign with a strong effort and could rack up the points to give a early positive look in the plus-minus column; 1129 points were registered in the Red Devils’ 23 pre-split games last term (third highest in the league) and it wouldn’t surprise to see a similar pattern emerge once more.
The return of Joe Burgess from his Sydney adventures has seen him installed as favourite for the Top Tryscorer’ crown in this year’s competition and this could be the perfect early opportunity for the Cherry and Whites’ premier strike threat to add to the 52-in-58 tally he achieved in his original stint.
He has produced for the visitors in every clash with Salford previously and regardless of whether he does so again a Wigan victory by at least two or three scores is the thought process here.