Renouf reveals class as Wigan defence shines

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Steve Renouf finally arrived as the sort of attacking incisive player Wigan fans had been expecting, but the real star of this game was a remorseless defence that scarcely allowed Salford a sniff of their try line.

The Australian Test centre scored a try in each half as Wigan stayed in the top bracket of Super League with a convincing display. Although Salford enjoyed plenty of possession in the Wigan half, they were constantly frustrated by water-tight tackling.

Salford only really competed for the first quarter, when Wigan mustered just two penalties by Andy Farrell, but he then brushed past Paul Highton and Tony Smith was in support for the first of their five tries.

Terry Newton, who later went for an X-ray on an arm injury, showed the persistence to keep the ball alive and send Renouf in for his first try. A minute into the second half, Renouf burst on to a short pass from Smith and raced away to score again.

"When he burst on to that ball he showed the class of player he is," said his coach, Frank Endacott. "I hope to see a lot more of it for the rest of the season."

A loose pass from Mike Wainwright presented Willie Peters with the interception from which he dashed in to score and, after Malcolm Alker had come closest for Salford by being held up over the line, Paul Johnson rounded it off for Wigan.

Both wingers, Jason Robinson and Brett Dallas, made ground from their own half before Smith's final pass sent Johnson in, and Farrell landed his sixth goal.

"I've said all along that Wigan were the classiest team in the competition," said Salford's John Harvey. "Bradford might be a bit more physical, but Wigan are the classiest."

Harvey saw nothing at the Willows to make him change that opinion, while it was the defensive effort that pleased Endacott.

"The most satisfying thing about the game was that zero," he said. "They had a lot of the football today. We've done a lot of work on the defence; it's not there yet, but it's getting there."

With games against Halifax and St Helens coming up, that can only be a reassuring thought.

Salford: Broadbent; Pinkney, Tassell, Nicol, Offiah; Webber, Crompton; Southern, Alker, Baynes, Wainwright, Brown, Highton. Substitutes used: Makin, Faimalo, M Johnson, Leigh.

Wigan: Radlinski; Dallas, Renouf, Connolly, Robinson; Smith, Peters; O'Connor, Newton, Cowie, Gilmour, Haughton, Farrell. Substitutes not used: Mestrov, Betts, Cassidy, P Johnson.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).