As soon as the squads were announced, it was clear that both coaches had both eyes on the repeat clash at the weekend in the Challenge Cup semi-final, rather than tonight’s run -of-the-mill Super League fixture. Warrington gave four debuts and the Red Devils made several changes ahead of the game, including three debuts themselves.
The Red Devils are already out of the play-off positions but could affect the top spots. The Wolves would retain their top spot with a win, but a loss would see them drop into fourth spot in the league based on the new percentage points system for determining league position.
On seventeen, Nathan Roebuck opened the scoring for Warrington with a debut try, on hand to take a high miss-out pass from Riley Dean to cross unopposed and score in the corner. Declan Patton converted from the left touchline for a 6-0 lead to the Wolves.
Josh Thewlis benefitted from a delightful Dec Patton pass as the Salford defence bought the dummy and the young full back crossed under the sticks. Patton added the conversion for a 12-0 lead, the Warrington youngsters were turning on the style.
A beautiful sidestep from Riley Dean on thirty-four say the winger go over off a Patton pass. The score was under the sticks and gave Patton his third conversion success of the night.
Salford struck back just before the interval with Elliot Kear taking a high kick near the corner and passing out to Rhys Williams to go over for the four-pointer. Krisnan Inu nailed his conversion kick and with thirty seconds left it was 6-18.
On forty-four Dean should have extended the Wolves lead but he failed to ground the ball despite getting over the line.
Salford were held up twice over the line on their next attack but handed over possession without adding to their account. But on fifty-one Elliot Kear finally broke the Warrington defence as he took the ball from acting half back and scooted down an exposed blind side to score. Inu drilled his touchline conversion between the sticks for 12-18.
Salford were back on level pegging on seventy-one when Andy Ackers broke the line and fed Tom Gilmore who ran the last twenty to ground under the sticks. Inu added the conversion and from 18-0 behind the Red Devils were back on level terms.
A seventy-fifth minute Inu attempted drop goal sailed wide and two minutes as they set up for a second the Wolves broke the line early and were caught offside. Inu kicked the easy penalty goal for a 20-18 lead with ninety seconds remaining.
The young Wolves must have thought that they had the game in the bag when they romped into an 18-0 lead but a tremendous fightback, coupled with some Wolves indiscipline towards the end of the game, gave the Red Devils a famous win which drops Warrington from the top of the table down to fourth.
Warrington have just four days to wait before they can exact their revenge and grab a place in the Challenge Cup Final.
Salford Red Devils: Ashall, Roberts, Inu (4G), Kear (T), Williams (T), Gilmore (T), Atkin, Mossop, Jones, Ikahihifo, McCarthy, Ormondroyd, Burke. Subs: Ackers, Pauli, Lannon, Greenwood.
Warrington Wolves: Thewlis (T), Akauola, Brand, Roebuck (T), Dean (T), Patton (3G), Latu, Walker, Johnson, Longstaff, Robson, Davis. Subs: Kibula, Doro, Oakley, Shelford.
Referee: Scott Mikaslauskas.
Half Time: 6-18.
Full Time: 18-20.
Venue: A J Bell Stadium Salford.