Wigan Warriors 27-14 Salford Red Devils

Wigan Warriors came from behind to see off plucky Salford Red Devils in an absorbing Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Salford were on course for a first trip to Wembley for 48 years when they came from 12-0 down to lead 14-12 at half-time but Wigan’s big-game players came to the fore as the Betfred Super League champions ground out a tense 27-14 victory to earn a Wembley showdown with Hull on August 26.
Wigan get to Wembley 2017
Full-back Sam Tomkins and stand-off George Williams were outstanding for Wigan as the 19-time winners of the knockout competition ran in four tries to the Red Devils’ two, despite seeing the former and Anthony Gelling spend 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

Salford, making light of their dismal league form that has seen them win just one of their last seven matches, played their part in a full-blooded clash, with Tyrone McCarthy scoring a try on his debut and fellow newcomer Manu Vatuvei also catching the eye after a nervous start.

Oliver Gildart opened the scoring for the Warriors, after having two tries chalked off, in the eighth minute before Willie Isa crossed to put Wigan 12-0. But Salford hit back through Greg Johnson and McCarthy to level the scores before Tomkins’ yellow card earned Michael Dobson his third kick to move 14-12 ahead.

Williams restored parity with a penalty with Michael McIlorum crashing over to extend Wigan’s lead to 20-14. Tomkins added a drop-goal to ensure Ian Watson’s needed two scores to remain in the clash but, despite Gelling missing the final eight minutes, Gildart strolled over in the final play for his second try with Williams kicking his fifth goal to finish a tremendous semi-final tie.

Salford coach Ian Watson was proud of his side’s battling performance and says they will learn from their defeat.

“Things are bleak and upsetting now but going forward we should be proud of what we did. These are the games we want to be involved in and as a club we will be involved in them again.

“We will learn from it. We’ve spoken about being on a journey and now we’ve got the Super 8s to look forward to.

“It was a big effort and we showed character to get back into it. Wigan won the energy battle in the second half and Sam Tomkins turned up massively.”

Wigan head coach Shaun Wane said: “I’m very happy and very relieved. Without sounding cocky, I thought we deserved it. We had a few tries disallowed and had two spells with 12 men.

“I’m very proud of my players. I thought we did some really good things today. Salford challenged us.”

Wigan captain Sean O’Loughlin added: “Salford came out firing but we got ourselves into the game and rolled with that for 15 to 20 minutes and got some points on the boar.

“We probably needed to do it for longer and we were a bit disappointed to give that lead away.”