WOLVES made it three successive wins in a confident display at Salford tonight.
Building on successes against Hull FC and London Broncos, the visitors look to have found their groove and rarely looked in trouble against the close-season’s big spenders.
Going into the game, Wolves boss Tony Smith demanded an 80-minute display while experienced prop Roy Asotasi called for an improved defensive effort and both got their wishes.
The Wolves fans banked in the Trafford Centre end terrace lapped it up, maintaining a noisy presence throughout with enthusiastic chanting of new wing hero ‘Geno’ Gene Ormsby and try-scoring prop Asotasi, as well as a cheeky ‘Morley is a Wire’ aimed at Salford’s ex-Warrington skipper.
Wolves had a commanding 16-4 lead at half time but with a bit more luck they could have been out of sight.
As it was, even after Wolves’ highest scoring first half of the season so far, Salford were still very much in the Super League round five encounter.
But Joel Monaghan’s strike 12 minutes into the second half gave Wolves an 18-point lead that even at that stage looked beyond a dominated Salford team.
Although with the services of the powerful Trent Waterhouse and a pack shuffle that included Ben Westwood at loose forward and James Laithwaite and Simon Grix in the second row, Tony Smith’s charges made a bright start.
The back row, along with prop Chris Hill, were a considerable force all night but their early dominance went unrewarded.
Wolves lost the ball in the act of scoring three times in the opening 11 minutes on a bitterly cold night.
Chris Bridge, Ben Westwood and Joel Monaghan all faltered under pressure from Salford’s scrambling defence.
And then urgent work from Richie Myler, Gene Ormsby and Ryan Atkins forced a similar act from former Batley Bulldogs centre Jason Walton at the end of Salford’s first threatening attack in the 13th minute.
The deadlock was finally broken six minutes later, Bridge pouncing on a loose ball after Wolves’ high kick had been dropped by Salford’s former Parramatta full back Jake Mullaney.
It was Bridge’s 100th career try, his 90th for Wolves.
Stefan Ratchford was unable to convert from wide out but had no problems four minutes later when Micky Higham darted over from dummy half to make it 10-0.
And it was from a scramble after another kick that Ormsby was able to bag his second try in as many matches to put Wolves, with Ratchford’s added conversion, 16-0 to the good after 30 minutes.
Salford mustered a 33rd minute response through Wigan loan winger signing Dominic Manfredi from a Junior Sa’u offload after Wolves had gifted Salford territory with a spillage on their own 30-metre line. Mullaney was wide with the extras, leaving it at 16-4.
Wolves were forced into a change in the 45th minute, Bridge limping out of the action and Ratchford switching to centre to allow for Matty Russell’s introduction off the bench.
Myler was held up over the line in the 48th minute after an opportunist fifth-tackle dart from first receiver as Wolves sought the important first try of the second period.
Wolves turned down a straight 20-metre penalty shot at goal in order to maintain momentum and pressure in the 52nd minute and that call was justified when Myler slipped a neat inside pass for Joel Monaghan to cross after good build-up work by Westwood.
Ratchford’s third conversion from four attempts moved Wolves 22-4 ahead and they were looking good for that lead.
A clear obstruction from Gareth O’Brien on Samoan international Sa’u during kick retrieval did provide Mullaney with the opportunity to put Manfredi over for a debut brace in the 66th minute but Wolves’ 22-8 advantage was too strong for anything more than a token comeback.
And two minutes later Asotasi ended any feint Salford hopes when he charged over for a try in successive matches after Chris Hill had been used as a foil by dummy half Micky Higham. Ratchford’s extras made it 28-8.
Salford’s speedy ex-Batley winger Greg Johnson crossed for a consolation effort in the 75th minute, cutting the deficit to 28-12.
In a good sign, Bridge returned for the final flurry and showed no signs of injury concern as he got heavily involved in seeking further scores. He even packed down at prop at one stage.
Red Devils: Jake Mullaney; Greg Johnson, Jason Walton, Junior Sa’u, Dominic Manfredi; Theo Fages, Tim Smith; Adrian Morley, Tommy Lee, Lama Tasi, Matty Ashurst, Andrew Dixon, Harrison Hansen. Subs: Martin Gleeson, Tony Puletua, Shannan McPherson, Jordan Walne.
Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Gene Ormsby; Gareth O’Brien, Richie Myler; Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Roy Asotasi, James Laithwaite, Simon Grix, Ben Westwood. Subs: Michael Monaghan, Matty Russell, Glenn Riley, Ben Evans.
Referee: Ben Thaler Attendance: 6,260