I went into this game thinking how important it was for Wigan not
to be checked with form having improved during the last three
or four weeks. That got the job done in that regard but it was a
big night for so many reasons.
Not just because of the
announcement of Sam Tomkins returning for 2016, or Ben Flower
getting back on the field for the first time since the Grand Final,
but because Shaun Wane has been promising us for weeks that our
attack will click and it did so in great style here.
All the Wigan tries were fantastic efforts and it was only four
glaring errors defensively, two from Dan Sarginson and two from
Ryan Hampshire, that stopped a great all round performance.
After 11 minutes though, no one could have foreseen what was to
come from Wigan. Warrington had started superbly with great energy
and vigour to build up a 10-0 lead. Both tries came down the right
with first Joel Monaghan scoring before poor defending Chris Bridge
ran over the top of Sarginson for a score. Stefan Ratchford
converted the first of those two tries.
The response though might have been a bit of the blue, but was
fantastic from a Wigan point of view. Bridge might have been a
thorn to Sarginson a couple of minutes earlier but George Williams
stood him up beautifully with a step to find space on half way. I
must admit I was cursing his pass to Joe Burgess at the time for
being far too soon but Budgie was superb in seeing Liam Farrell's
call for the ball back on the inside. His pass eliminated four
defenders from the chase and thus their was no one to stop Farrell
scoring. Smith converted for 6-10.
Then on the next set, Budgie gets the ball again down the left.
Credit Sarginson initially because a little step by him left
Monaghan flat on his feet. That made it far easier for Burgess and
his combination to send Ryan Hampshire away to the try line was
superb play. Rocky had a simple race to the line and Smith
converted again for 12-10.
That was 18 minutes gone and the few minutes saw interchanges
come into affect. Ben Flower made his long awaited return to a
standing ovation but it was Daryl Clark and Ashton Sims who gave an
initial burst of strength to Warrington. They recovered from that
two try blitz to retake the lead on 24 minutes with Bridge again
scoring against a flapping Sarginson. Ratchford couldn't convert
but it was now 14-12 to the visitors.
31st Minute and Wigan came back with a third quality try from
deep in the field. Wigan again attack down the left initially but
although they got blocked down there this time, they quickly went
right and a good one-two between Anthony Gelling and Joel Tomkins
saw the latter produce an amazing offload to get Dom Manfredi in.
Conversion missed but Wigan had the lead back at 16-14 and that
carried until half time.
The see-saw nature of the game continued with Warrington getting
the lead back again four minutes into the second half. Ben Currie
made a great run to score from thirty metres and Ratchford's
conversion made it 20-16 to them.
Warrington might had the lead but it looked increasingly clear
to me that they needed to pin Wigan down with a two score lead.
They had a massive chance at this score when Hampshire, for the
second time in the evening, dropped a bomb cold with no pressure on
him. Wigan survived that pressure and that was a big moment I
thought. I felt Warrington really needed that two score lead now
because Wigan had too much great attack in their locker for them to
live with us going toe to toe all night, and so it proved.
51st Minute and the lead changed for fifth time in the game.
Hampshire was not dwelling on his errors and got Gelling through a
gap for a score. Smith converted for a 22-20 Wigan lead.
It was not long after that Warrington lost Anthony England to
injury for while. Not only that though, they had both Roy Asotasi
and Ashton Sims sat on the bench as well, for whatever reason, and
I think that was quite telling in the end.
Wigan had quite a hefty bench with Flower, Tony Clubb and
Taulima Tautai, all excellent on the night, and that helped Wigan
push on despite losing Mike McIlorum to concussion.
The game breaker came on 61 minutes. Again right and it was
again Hampshire being the spare man from full back combining with
Gelling to get Manfredi over for his second. Smith couldn't convert
though, so it wasn't all over at 26-20.
It was though when Manfredi completed a second hat-trick in
consecutive games on 68 minutes. This came after Matty Smith's drop
goal attempt was blocked. The block fell nicely near Gelling and he
casually kicked it perfectly into the hands of Manfredi. Smith
again missed the extras, which was disappointing, but at 30-20 the
game felt won.
Warrington tried desperately to hit back and both England and
Asotasi returned but the damage had been done. Wigan would see out
a good job done and that's two big wins at the DW now this month.
All looks far rosier in the camp, we just need to get going away
from home now. Wakefield next week has to be the start of
One final point was the choice of man of the match. On Wish FM I
went for Joel Tomkins whilst the match sponsors went for hat-trick
hero Manfredi and Sky gave it to Gelling. It's great to see us
performance with so much choice to choose from. The gloom of
Castleford away is quickly becoming a distant memory.