Lee Mossop and Salford thrash Wigan to claim shock place in Grand Final

first_imgMaybe, just maybe, dreams do come true after all. A fortnight ago when Salford were beaten here in Wigan and forced to take the long road to Old Trafford their incredible underdog story looked to be reaching its conclusion. But this group of misfits – the majority of whom were released by other clubs – have made a habit of defying the critics in 2019.The second-lowest spenders in Super League only just survived on the final day last year, so preseason predictions of a relegation struggle were fully merited, or so we thought. Yet here, it was Salford who looked like seasoned Super League champions, and Wigan the perennial strugglers. Support The Guardian And by the time Wigan had scored their one and only try through Bevan French, Salford’s place at Old Trafford had long been guaranteed. Another penalty from the reliable Inu made it 20-0, before two of their supposed misfits, Dudson and Lee Mossop, combined to send the latter over, with Inu’s goal establishing a 26-point lead.Salford’s 5,000-strong travelling support, who only have to venture four miles down the road next Saturday, were in fine voice all night, but that try marked the moment when they could genuinely relax and believe a first title in 43 years could be theirs. Another Inu penalty was the icing on the cake, and French’s consolation was greeted by ironic cheers from the Salford fans; most of the home supporters had already left.Underdog stories do not get much bigger than this. In 1976 it was the likes of Keith Fielden and David Watkins who brought the title back to Salford. Next Saturday, a new set of heroes could be crowned at Old Trafford. Expect it to be loud: the people of Salford have waited a long, long time for this moment.Wigan Hardaker; Marshall, Hankinson, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Leuluai; Flower, Powell, Partington, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Interchange Clubb, Byrne, Smithies, French.Salford Evalds; Sio, Welham, Bibby, Inu; Lolohea, Hastings; Mossop, Tomkins, Dudson, Jones, Griffin, McCarthy. Interchange Lussick, Flanagan, Walker, Burke.Referee B Thaler Topics Share on Facebook Read more The scale of this victory is underlined by the fact it was only Salford’s fourth at Wigan in 40 years. The prize for this near-faultless performance? A maiden appearance in the Super League Grand Final. If you had said in January this would happen you would have been met with utter derision. “We’ve got players who’ve been moved on from the big clubs but are now Grand Finalists,” their coach, Ian Watson said. Watson has cemented his reputation as the best young British coach in the game as he has driven this incredible story. “We’re not happy we’re there – we’re going to win it,” he said afterwards.Salford were beaten here 18-12 two weeks ago but a similar outcome never looked likely on a one-sided night. They led 12-0 at half-time thanks to a Gil Dudson try and four goals from Krisnan Inu. Both were in the Widnes side who were relegated last season. The first try after half-time felt decisive, and when Joey Lussick got it for Salford to make it 18-0, the Warriors looked well beaten. “We’ve been great in the second half of the year, but it went from bad to worse here,” the Wigan coach Adrian Lam conceded.Salford’s heroic defensive efforts played a part in keeping Wigan scoreless for over 70 minutes, but the hosts’ out-of-sorts attack was the real reason why the defence of their title came to such a shuddering halt in front of their own fans. As Lam pointed out post-match, the emergence of several young players in 2019 is a plus for them long-term, but failure to make the Grand Final makes this season a failure. Since you’re here… … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. 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