Warrington Wolves – 16
Tries: Atkins, Evans, Lineham
Goals: Gidley 2/3
Wigan Warriors – 38
Tries: Marshall 4, Gelling, Farrell, Wells
Goals: Escare 5/7
Well that wasn’t expected was it? Missing a plethora of first team players, two players making their debut, including Forsyth (“Brucie”) a centre, playing on the wing; Willie Isa playing in the centres for the first time since his Widnes days – but yet it was a bit, well easy, to be frank. This Wigan team is unbelievable when it comes to managing with injuries, I mentioned it in the match preview, but Wigan don’t see injuries as an issue, they view them as opportunities and the victory at Warrington furthers that statement.
Wigan started the game well after both teams exchanged handling errors, Wigan’s strong defence was limiting the dummy half breaks that Warrington are known for. There seemed to be a keen focus from Wigan on managing this from their marker defence and they did it, throughout the night, very well. Wigan opened the scoring from the man of the moment, George Williams, opting to kick on the third tackle. A move that we have seen him execute so well before, particularly when Joe Burgess is playing. The benefactor of his vision this time however, was Liam Marshall, who did well to finish the move, opening his account in the Cherry and White. The conversion attempt from Escare drifted wide, although to many, it looked like it was a good conversion, and to Escare himself, who had a word with the referee – probably a French word that Thaler couldn’t understand – 0-4.
Warrington’s confidence seemed shattered by that early try and any optimism from the crowd, that this would be the game to kick-start their season, faded away. A wonderful offload from Brucie, put Escare through a gaping hole in the Warrington defence, a 60 metre break and he was caught just short of the try line. Wigan kept their composure and worked the ball out wide for Man of the People, Anthony Gelling, to cross the line for his third try in two games. Escare’s conversion was good, after hitting the post and Wigan led 0-10.
Wigan’s dominance continued throughout the first half, with Warrington, seemingly struggling to get the ball into the Wigan half, notable due to the defensive effort from the Warriors. They made it 0-16, when Sean O’Loughlin’s attempted cut out pass, hit the ground, beating the Wolves defence and fell kindly to Marshall who crossed for his second try of the night, Escare’s touchline conversion was good. 0 – 16. On 33 minutes, Liam Farrell crossed the line to make it 0-20 to the visitors, a well-timed run from Farrell, linking up with George Williams on the left edge. Just before half time, the Wolves were giving a bit of hope that a spirited comeback in the second half might be possible, when Ryan Atkins crossed for a try after a Tom Lineham break, Gidley converted and at halftime, the score was 6-20.
For the comeback to happen, Warrington needed to score first and galvanise their supporters, to make it difficult for Wigan. Unfortunately for them, that wasn’t to happen, as a result of trying to play expansive rugby to get themselves back in the game, a stray Warrington pass fell for Liam Marshall who raced 70-metres to complete his hat trick under the posts, easy conversion for Escare, 6-26. Brucie nearly joined the party himself with a try, a great effort trying to latch onto an O’Loughlin kick but the video ref replays showed that he ground the ball on the dead ball line. There was a first try a few moments later however for England Academy star, Jack Wells, his fourth appearance for the Warriors and his first of 2017 was rounded off when he ran through to support a George Williams break for an easy finish under the sticks, Escare converted and Wigan led 6 – 32.
Wire got a consolation try following a nice break from Harvey Livett, Rhys Evans scoring, Gidley converting, 12 – 32. A 50-metre Anthony Gelling break was followed by some neat passing along the back line with a great pass from Willie Isa to Liam Marshall, who crossed for his fourth and Wigan’s final try of the night – Escare converted, 12-38. Wire added another try in the 77th minute from Tom Lineham, making the final score Warrington 16-38 Wigan.
A professional job by Wigan despite their injury problems, the three tries conceded will annoy Shaun Wane and he will see room for improvement in that area. Four from four in the Super League puts Wigan at the top of the table until Castleford play this weekend, four loses from four ensures Wire remain rooted to the bottom of the Super League ladder. I retweeted someone last night who after the game simply said “This team is special” – I fully agree, uncompromising, tough, resilient, stylish and winning.
A good start to 2017, next up Huddersfield at the DW.