Noble art working on Wigan

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The Independent Online

Salford's coach, Karl Harrison, has paid tribute to his former Bradford boss, Brian Noble, for turning around the fortunes of sleeping giants Wigan. The Warriors beat Harrison's men 20-12 at the JJB Stadium on Friday night to make it five wins in a row and continue their remarkable climb away from the foot of the Super League table.

Six points adrift just five weeks ago, Wigan are out of the relegation zone for the first time for four months and lie just a point behind seventh-placed Harle-quins following Quins' 30-24 defeat at St Helens on Friday.

Noble is refusing to discuss the prospects of a top-six finish but Wigan finally look to have banished the very real threat of relegation and, according to Harrison, it is all down to the Great Britain coach. "You can see the changes Brian Noble has put in place," said Harrison. "They are playing a bit stronger, defending a little bit tougher and deserved the win. We're not an easy team to break down but they found the right plays at the right time to finish us off."

Salford, who lost their captain, Malcolm Alker, with an ankle injury, trailed 10-0 after conceding early tries to Brett Dallas and Bryan Fletcher but hit back through Ryan Clayton and Aaron Moule to level the scores by the hour mark. A penalty from Wigan scrum-half Michael Dobson edged the home side back in front before stand-off Danny Orr settled matters with the all-important try.

The new Harlequins coach, Brian McDermott, watched his side make a dream start against leaders St Helens, powering into an 8-0 lead after 11 minutes through Daniel Heckenberg's try and two goals from Henry Paul. But Saints quickly recovered with converted tries from Matty Smith - a scrum-half replacement for the injured Sean Long - acting captain Keiron Cunningham and Nick Fozzard to lead 18-8 at the break and added two more tries in the second half.

"It was encouraging," said McDermott. "We showed fight, spirit and resilience and I'm proud to be involved in a team like that. I'm not concerned about the relegation dogfight. I'm looking towards the top six."

Bradford completed a third win of the season over Catalans Dragons on Friday, but they were made to work for their 30-16 success at Odsal. Two tries each from Leslie Vainikolo and Marcus St Hilaire helped the Bulls get back to winning ways but they never likely to repeat their previous 50-point maulings of the French. "I expected a real physical battle and we got that," admitted their coach, Steve McNamara. "It was a tough game for us."

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