Salford Red Devils faced a Wigan Warriors side featuring former players Jackson Hastings and Jake Bibby, as they look to find the form that made them reach the Grand Final last season.
Wigan, in a flash yellow away jersey, started the game in a determined fashion as they kept Salford inside their own 30 metre line on numerous occasions and looked to punish a poor exit sets.
After four minutes of pressure on the Red Devils line, McCarthy conceded a penalty in front of the posts and Chris Hankinson converted for an early 0-2 lead.
That lead didn’t last too long as a swift counter attacking set from Salford put the home-side into some good territory.
A high tackle put a stop to the running, but it did mean that Tui Lolohea could equalise with a penalty of his own.
A knock-on from Ken Sio direct from kick-off gave the Warriors a scrum just 10 metres from the try line, and on direct from the scrum, the ball found Jackson Hastings, who stepped inside and stretched over to score. True to his promise, he didn’t celebrate despite the jubilations going on around him.
The Warriors ill-discipline wasn’t making it them easy to keep their lead though. Morgan Smithies was penalised for messing around at the ruck, but a knock-on from Lolohea let the visitors off the hook.
Salford were beginning to work their way back into the game but errors from the boot and with the ball in hand meant that they were lacking a clinical edge needed o get through the stern Wigan defence.
After 30 minutes, the Warriors were starting to retake control of the territorial battle but yet more penalties released any pressure on the Red Devils.
With Salford attacking the Wigan line, they were looking to exploit any gaps they could find.
Stern defence from the Warriors kept the home side at bay.
With five minutes until the break, barraging runs from Mitch Clark, and Joe Bullock have Sam Powell the opportunity to run at a disjointed defence and the hooker managed to find a gap and ran under the posts to score.
Salford seemed to switch off after that score, and after having the ball stripped from him by Tommy Leuluai, hit Hastings with a high shot.
Hankinson attempted to make it a 14-point lead but dragged his kick wide.
HALF-TIME: Salford Red Devils 2-14 Wigan Warriors
The second period start a little brighter for the Red Devils with back-to-back sets on the Wigan line, but an error from Pauli Pauli meant the Warriors came away unscathed.
After 15 minutes of back and forth action between the two sides, a high tackle from Joey Lussick put Wigan in decent attacking position.
This time, Bevan French chipped and chased over the top of the Red Devils defence but knocked the ball on before Harry Smith could ground it.
Niall Evalds showed that whatever French can do, he can do better as he produce a little bit of magic.
After stepping from side to side, he caught Harry Smith and Morgan Smithies flat footed, found the gap and raced under the posts.
Lolohea converted to narrow the deficit to six points with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Evalds picked up a second just a few minutes later, and what a try it was.
A poor kick from Sam Powell was intercepted by the Red Devils full-back and with 80 metres in front of him, sprinted under the posts with not a single Wigan player within 10 metres of him. Lolohea levelled the scores from the boot.
Lolohea was the next to break through a tiring Wigan defence, and looked to have released Rhys Williams on he left hand edge, but the play was brought back for a forward pass from the half-back, much to the dismay of the home support.
Williams then made a break down the middle of the park of his own to put Salford on he front foot.
Half-breaks from Sarginson and Welham looked close to giving the score they needed to lead, but a scoot and huge dummy from Kevin Brown was all that was needed to put the Red Devils ahead.
With Salford looking to hold on, and just three minutes to go, it seemed as if Brown had just given his side a vital win against table-toppers Wigan.
That was pretty much confirmed in the 79th minute as Dan Sarginson clattered Bevan French with a huge tackle, forcing the full-back to knock on just 10 metre’s from the Salford try-line.
With the ball in hand, Salford looked to close the game out and a high, swinging arm from Mitch Clark awarded the home side a penalty.
A kick to touch, and three tackles later and the final hooter blew, with Ian Watson’s side showing a never say die spirit to take the spoils.
Salford Red Devils
Evalds, Sio, Welham, Sarginson, Williams, Lolohea, Brown, Mossop, Lussick, Yates, Lannon, Roberts, McCarthy
Interchanges: Pauli, Ikahihifo, Flanagan, Kear
Tries: Evalds (2), Brown
Goals: Lolohea (3/4)
French, Manfredi, Hankinson, Bibby, Marshall, Leuluai, Hastings, Burgess, Powell, Byrne, Isa, Farrell, Smithies
Interchanges: Bullock, Havard, Clark, Smith
Tries: Hastings, Powell
Goals: Hankinson (3/4)
Referee: J. Child
Touch Judges: S. Mikalauskas, T. Grant
Video Referee: C. Kendall