Fourth against eleventh was the fare on offer as the Salford Red Devils welcomed the Warrington Wolves to the AJ Bell Stadium, as they looked for their second win of the season against a Wolves side looking to cement their place in the top four.
Both sides made changes, Salford after suffering a nail-biting defeat against the Warriors last Saturday, and Warrington who ran out convincing 38-14 winners over the Castleford Tigers later that afternoon.
There were fans from both clubs present with Warrington as massive favourites, but wary that Salford are a very good side and due a change in fortunes, particularly after their great performance last time out.
Within one hundred seconds of the first whistle the Wolves went in with an one two between Stefan Ratchford and Josh Charnley, the full back taking the inside pass to slide in for a far too simple try. Ratchford added the conversion for 6-0.
On six minutes Gareth Widdop ripped through the Salford defence and found Danny Walker in support to shrug off a tackler and go ten metres to dot down. Ratchford added the conversion and in the blink of an eye it was 12-0.
The Salford defence were having a nightmare as the Wolves went in for their third on eleven. A grubber from Widdop was picked up by Ben Currie and passed outside to Toby King to cross from a few metres out. Ratchford added the conversion from wide for 18-0, all way too easy.
A twenty-first minute Ken Sio eighty metre effort, after picking up an uncharacteristically poor Warrington kick and pinning back his ears to go down the right wing. Harvey Livett added the conversion to reduce the arrears by six.
Ratchford got the Wolves scoring moving again with a penalty goal from under the shadow of the sticks for 20-6.
Salford’s second came on thirty-two when Livett benefitted from good pressure when he took a Morgan Escare pass and juggled before reaching over the line for the try. The Red Devils centre added the conversion for 12-20.
With a minute remaining until the half time hooter Jake Mamo found a gap from nothing to manufacture a fifty metre try as he evaded the Salford defence and went forty metres to score under the sticks. Ratchford added the conversion for a big half-time lead at 26-12.
Inside the opening two minutes of the second half Salford spilled the ball and Widdop hacked it forwards and collected to score a simple try under the sticks. Ratchford kicked his sixth goal of the game for 32-12.
Darcy Lussick hit back for Salford when he took the ball at first receiver and strolled over through a massive gap in the defensive line. Livett added the conversion and while Salford still had a mountain to climb to get back into the game, they showed that they weren’t just going to give up.
An awful looking high tackle from Morgan Escare on Widdop saw the Red Devils full-back sin-binned.
The twelve men paid the price early as Mamo was on hand at the end of a six-man passing move to ground the ball over the line. Ratchford was spot on with his kick for 38-18.
Salford were down to eleven men on fifty-seven when Lussick joined Escare in the sinbin, once again for a high tackle, this time on Josh Charnley.
With a two-man advantage Toby King got his second of the game dragging two tacklers over the line before falling to the ground. Ratchford made it eight from eight for a 44-18 lead.
Chris Hill got in on the action on sixty-four as the Salford tacklers failed to hold him. Ratchford added the extras to bring up the fifty for the Wolves in what was becoming an excellent evening.
There was no catching Ben Currie as he went almost the length of the field after taking a Salford kick through five from his own line. Ratchford added his tenth goal of the game for 56-18.
Widdop’s second of the night came with three minutes of the half remaining, King breaking an exhausted and putting Widdop through a gap to go forty metres to score under the sticks. Ratchford continued his faultless kicking evening for a final score of 62-18.
It was a devastating night for the Wolves in a game which boasted a point a minute. Across the park Warrington were dominant and with Widdop, Ratchford and King in special form they were unstoppable. Dropping to eleven men when they had put themselves back in the game was catastrophic for a Salford side who must be wondering where last weeks performance disappeared to.
Salford Red Devils: Escare (SB on 51), Sio (T), Watkins, Livett (T, 3G), Williams, Lolohea, Atkin, Ormondroyd, Taylor, Ikahihifo, Lannon, Roberts, Burke. Subs: Lussick (T, SB on 56), Wells, Luckley, Patton.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford (T, 11G), Lineham, Mamo (2T), King (2T), Charnley, Austin, Widdop (2T), Hill (T), Walker (T), Philbin, Currie (T), Hughes, Davis. Subs: Mulhern, Clark J, Akauola, Clark D.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6, 0-10, 0-12, 0-16, 0-18, 4-18, 6-18, 6-20, 10-20, 12-20, 12-24, 12-26 : HT: 12-30, 12-32, 16-32, 18-32, 18-36, 18-38, 18-42, 18-44, 18-48, 18-50, 18-54, 18-56, 18-60, 18-62 : FT.