Salford 22-30 Wigan: George Williams hat-trick helps Warriors win Super League thriller
Last Updated: 24/03/19 11:51pm
England stand-off George Williams scored a hat-trick of tries to help Wigan to a much-needed 30-22 victory in a Super League thriller against Salford at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The reigning champions went into the round-seven clash on the back of four straight defeats but coach Adrian Lam will be breathing more easily after a hard-fought second win of the season, which leaves 2017 champions Leeds two points adrift at the foot of the table.
Wigan looked to be well in command after running in three tries in an eight-minute spell to lead 18-6 but the Red Devils showed their danger by scoring three of their own either side of half-time to go in front for the second time.
However, Wigan always looked to have the edge and Williams, whose form so far this year amid rumours of a move to the NRL had been a matter of concern for Lam, showed his class to put the result beyond doubt.
Wigan were also boosted by the return to fitness of wingmen Joe Burgess and Dom Manfredi, who were reunited for the first time since the 2015 Grand Final.
Burgess, though, made the worst possible start, failing to deal with an early high kick, and that gifted Salford the attacking position from which they opened the scoring through second rower Josh Jones, who timed his run perfectly to touch down Robert Lui's grubber kick.
Ed Chamberlain, on his first appearance of the season, missed the conversion attempt but was on target with a penalty to make it 6-0 after 10 minutes.
Wigan lost prop Tony Clubb with a knee injury midway through the first half, shortly after having a try disallowed for obstruction, and skipper Sean O'Loughlin went off for his customary break with little sign of an improvement in their fortunes.
Yet the game was suddenly turned on its head as the Warriors found a purple patch to run in three tries in quick succession.
Williams juggled with Jarrod Sammut's pass after a clean break by his half-back partner before starting the fightback after 25 minutes.
Hooker Thomas Leuluai forced his way from dummy half three minutes later and the recovery was complete when second rower Joe Greenwood charged onto Leuluai's short pass for the visitors' third try, to which Zak Hardaker added his third goal.
However, having seemingly taken control of the game, the Warriors proceeded to let it temporarily slip away from them in dramatic fashion in a remarkable four-minute spell either side of half-time.
Salford left winger Derrell Olpherts profited from an offload by Chamberlain to touch down before fending off Burgess on a touchline run and sending full-back Niall Evalds over.
Chamberlain's second goal cut Wigan's lead to just two points at the break and an audacious ball steal by substitute Adam Walker on his home debut wiped it out completely within two minutes of the restart.
Manfredi was attempting to clear his own line but had his pocket picked by the former Wakefield prop who had the simple task of touching down for a try that restored his side's lead.
Undeterred, Wigan struck back after 49 minutes through Williams, who finished off a glorious 80-metre move started by Greenwood's half-break and continued by Burgess.
Hardaker kicked his fourth conversion as the lead changed hands for the third time in a little over 20 minutes and Williams completed his first hat-trick for five years in similar fashion after 61 minutes as Wigan once more made good use of their lethal left edge.