|Betfred Super League – Preliminary Final|
|Wigan Warriors (0) 4|
|Salford Red Devils (12) 28|
|Tries: Dudson, Lussick, Mossop Goals: Inu 8|
Salford Red Devils reached their first Super League Grand Final after upstaging five-time champions Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium.
Just 12 months after battling to avoid relegation, the Red Devils have stunned the English rugby league establishment to book a meeting with St Helens at Old Trafford on Saturday, 12 October.
Ex-Wigan prop Gil Dudson’s try helped put Salford 12-0 up at the break.
Another ex-Warriors forward Lee Mossop also touched down to seal a famous win.
Former New Zealand and Samoa centre Krisnan Inu crucially contributed 16 points with the boot, with his composure in landing two early penalties setting up the little-fancied Red Devils for one of Super League’s most famous upsets.
Dudson’s first-half try and further four-pointers from Joey Lussick and Mossop put the visitors on their way to Old Trafford just after the hour mark, with a Bevan French try for Wigan coming as a late consolation effort.
Less than 20 miles separate the two clubs in England’s north west, but in terms of Super League pedigree there is a colossal gap – Wigan being a perennial force and one of the game’s best known clubs, while Salford have flirted with relegation and financial troubles in recent years.
Salford, however, have spent 2019 making a mockery of their underdog status.
They were expected to finish closer to the relegation places than the play-off spots, but surprised many by finishing third in the table and have now gone on to set up a showdown with Saints on Super League’s showpiece occasion.
Wigan may have been the side more used to competing in big games, but a nervy start by the hosts was clinically exploited by a composed Salford outfit, with Inu kicking two early penalties before Dudson rolled over the line for the game’s first try after 14 minutes.
It only got worse for the Warriors soon after, with talismanic playmaker Tommy Leuluai forced off the field and out of the game with a head injury soon afterwards.
When Lussick squeezed over for Salford’s second try, the score seemingly crushed Wigan’s hopes of a fightback.
Much had been made of Jackson Hastings, the Australian-born half-back and Man of Steel favourite, facing his future employers.
And while he influenced a remarkable result, it was Salford captain Mossop – a Grand Final winner with the Warriors in 2013 – who capped an astonishing result and story by powering over for a try that underlined the Red Devils’ dominance.
They will become only the eighth club to appear in a Super League Grand Final since it was introduced as the title-decider in 1998, and will face a St Helens side that finished 16 points clear of the rest at the end of the regular season.
Wigan Warriors: Hardaker; Marshall, Hankinson, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Leuluai; Flower, Powell, Partington, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin.
Interchanges: Clubb, Byrne, Smithies, French.
Salford Red Devils: Evalds; Sio, Welham, Bibby, Inu; Lolohea, Hastings; Mossop, Tomkins, Dudson, Jones, Griffin, McCarthy.
Interchanges: Flanagan, Lussick, Walker, Burke.
Referee: Ben Thaler