Salford v Wigan Warriors Betting Preview | 2nd February 2018
Rugby tipster Andrew Day takes a look at Friday night’s showdown between Salford and Wigan Warriors.
And so the season returns and the Warriors are tasked with facing last year’s early season surprise package in the Salford Red Devils.
These sides had virtually opposite campaigns last term with the Red Devils flourishing in the early parts of the season – where Wigan struggled – yet suffered a dramatic downturn in form just as the Cherry & Whites season began to pick up.
With changes in personnel at board level, and on the pitch, this one is an intriguing match for a number of reasons.
These two faced off four times last season in all competitions with Wigan winning on three occasions at an aggregate score of 111–67. The Warriors average winning margin was 19.5 points.
In all four games, Shaun Wane’s troops scored over 15.5 points. In the games won, the Warriors scored over 25.5 points.
Wigan’s top try scorer last season against the Red Devils was Oliver Gildart with four.
What to make of the Warriors for 2018?
Excitement that the squad has been kept together despite the attempts of the NRL? Anticipation of some old faces returning? Frustration that more hasn’t been done to improve the squad? Disappointment that crown favourite Micky Mac was allowed to leave? Confused as to who will play next to George Williams at half-back? Pondering as to who will play full-back?
Whatever your feelings about the Warriors, there is no doubt that Friday’s game will go a long way to answering many of the questions asked during the close season.
Wane has acknowledged the Warriors need to get off to a good start to ensure the decisions made in the close season are shown to be the correct ones and will no doubt have the players fired up to hit the ground running.
Despite missing star players Sean O’Loughlin, Joe Burgess and John Bateman, Wigan still have more than enough quality in the likes of Gildart, Williams, Sam Tomkins and Tommy Leuluai to put on a show at the AJ Bell.
As mentioned earlier, Salford have had changes at board level, as well as personnel, with the influential owner Marwan Koukash leaving the club plus star second row forward Ben Murdoch Masila.
In all bar one of their fixtures against the Warriors last season, they remained competitive for the majority of the 80 minutes and still have plenty of quality in star half back Robert Lui – 23 try assists – and full-back Gareth O’Brien – 122 points.
I cannot see anything, but a Wigan win here. They will be out to prove any doubters (and there are plenty of them) wrong and put a marker down for their season to come.
Players such as Sam Tomkins, Williams and Sam Powell who have all been discussed at length by pundits, will be keen to show why Wane has put so much faith in them.
Furthermore, when Wigan beat Salford, the stats show they usually wrack up a decent amount of points and win by a healthy margin.