Leuluai eases Wigan back into the groove

Salford 16 Wigan 32

Wigan managed to get their World Club Challenge defeat by St George Illawarra out of their system with a comfortable win over leaderless Salford here last night, but refused to confirm or deny that they have sacked their former Great Britain centre, Martin Gleeson, for disciplinary reasons.

The Willows was rife with rumours over the latest twist in a chequered career, but the Wigan coach, Michael Maguire, stacked up four "no comments" in less than a minute when asked to clear them up.

Salford had dramas of their own this week with their coach, Shaun McRae, going on a month's sick leave.

"A performance like that will give him a lift," said their director of rugby, Steve Simms, who took over in his absence, of a game effort that never quite threatened an upset.

Thomas Leuluai was the star of the show for the champions, getting the Warriors off to a flying start with a break that left Salford flat-footed and put the supporting Harrison Hansen under the sticks for a simple try.

Leuluai went over himself after 11 minutes, spinning out of Salford's clutches when he ran the ball on the last tackle of a set.

It already looked like a long night for Salford, but there was a glimpse of the quality they hoped they were adding to their side this season when Luke Patten's dummy and delayed pass sent Ashley Gibson over.

Wigan remained in command with a try from Lee Mossop when two defenders collided under Paul Deacon's kick, although the home side cut the deficit before half-time when Rob Parker forced his way over from close range.

Leuluai pounced again from dummy half to effectively settle the game at the start of the second half as Salford were slow to react to a loose ball. Sam Tomkins threatened another with a blistering run from deep, before Leuluai (left) figured prominently again in a sweeping move that put Josh Charnley in at the corner.

Any flashes of promise from the Reds were undermined by their frequent handling errors, but they finally got it right 12 minutes from time when a lovely ball from Patten sent Chris Nero charging over.

Wigan still finished well in control when Darrell Goulding completed the scoring two minutes from time. They remain unbeaten by domestic opposition this year and there was never much chance of that changing last night on what was scheduled to be their last visit to The Willows.

Salford: Patten; Gibson, Henry, Nero, Broughton; Ratchford, Smith; Cashmere, Godwin, Jewitt, Sidlow, Adamson, Wild. Substitutes used Palea'aesina, Sneyd, Parker, Neal.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Goulding, Marsh, Carmont, Charnley; Deacon, Leuluai; Coley, McIlorum, Prescott, Hansen, Hoffman, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used J Tomkins, Lima, Mossop, Farrell.

Referee: J Child

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