It was a story of revenge in the repeat of the 2018 Grand-Final as Wigan’s losing run continued as the Warrington Wolves conquered the Warriors 25-12 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
The opening five minutes were a but scrappy with a couple of penalties and knock-ons from both sides. Warrington were the first to overcome this stage though as Jake Mamo continued his form from last week with the opening try of the night.
A quick play-the-ball from Jack Hughes gave the Wolves the overlap on the left hand edge and a long flat pass from Blake Austin was collected by Mamo who dived over in the corner. Ratchford missed his first conversion attempt as Warrington took an early lead.
Other than the Mamo try, the Warriors were very strong defensively in the opening quarter but struggled to break down their opponents with the ball in hand. Williams kicking game was letting the side down along with forward passes and knock-ons out wide.
Ben Currie made a wonderful break in the 27th minute down the left hand edge but Zak Hardaker showed why he is one of the best full-backs in the game with an inch perfect tackle on the second-rower and denied the Wolves the second try of the game and keep Wigan in the game.
With 10 minutes of the half remaining, Warrington were awarded a penalty on, allowing them to start a fresh set of six just twenty metres out. The first tackle of the set was when the next try came as well. Ben Currie ran hard and straight at the Wigan defence, sucking in Gabe Hamlin and at the last possible moment throwing a pass out the back to Stefan Ratchford who broke through a huge gap and out pace Hardaker to score. Ratchford converted his own try to make it a 10 point lead for the home side.
The Wolves were full of confidence after that try and nearly grabbed a third try just minutes later but the tip-on pass from Jason Clark to Jack Hughes drifted slightly forward.
Wigan were lucky not to be a man down at half-time after Joe Bullock absolutely clattered Joe Philbin with a high tackle which was briefly followed by another high tackle from Sean O’Loughlin on Jason Clark. The high tackle from O’Loughlin gave Warrington the chance to extend their lead again and Ratchford slotted the penalty for a 12-0 lead just seconds before the half-time hooter blew.
HALF-TIME: Warrington Wolves 12-0 Wigan Warriors
It didn’t take long for Wire take control of the game one more as Daryl Clark made a half-break and released Ratchford down the middle of the park. However, Josh Charnley was tackled before the line to deny the Wolves.
Nevertheless, Charnley did grab his try just a minute later. A high kick from Blake Austin was not gathered in by Morgan Escare and the ball bounced favourably for the former Warrior who pushed off George Williams and Escare to dive over in the corner. Ratchford converted once more to make the score 18-0.
The woes for Wigan continued as Dan Sarginson was sent to the sin-bin after his swinging arm on Ryan Atkins was caught by the video referee during an injury break, in which Blake Austin left the field.
The extra-man to Warrington did make a difference to the scoreboard but it was Wigan who managed to grab themselves a try on the hour mark. A deft kick behind the Wolves line by Jake Shorrocks was raced onto by Tom Davies and the winger grabbed his first Super League try of the season. Zak Hardaker converted to bring the visitors to within 12 points.
Just three minutes later the Warriors were over the try line once more as Williams skipped across the front of the Wolves line and popped the ball into the on rushing Willie Isa who scored to bring the scorelines even closer. Hardaker once again converted to make it 18-12 with 15 minutes remaining.
A ball steal from Ryan Atkins inside the Wigan 20 metre line put Warrington back on the front foot. A scrappy set-up on the fifth tackle didn’t leave the Wolves with many options but Declan Patton’s quick thinking edged his side slightly further ahead once more with a drop-goal.
With ten minutes of the game remaining, Warrington looked more comfortable in attack after the return of Blake Austin to the field.
The ‘Bad Blood’ that was advertised immensely throughout the game finally came to fruition in the 74th minute after Willie Isa’s tackle on Toby King caused all of the players to come running in.
Isa was sent to the sin-bin for ten minutes for the challenge on King as was Dec Patton for retaliation. Ben Westwood was then sent off for a headbutt on Morgan Escare. Wolves would end the game with 11 men and Wigan with 12.
The physicality of the game would continue for the remaining five minutes and it was a barraging run from Jack Hughes which put the icing on the cake for Warrington.
The former Wigan player ran straight at Jake Shorrocks and the youngster could not handle the second-rower from just five metres out. Ratchford added the extras at Warrington lead by 13 points with just a matter of seconds left on the clock.
Wigan were consigned to a fifth defence on the bounce as Warrington’s unbeaten home run continued.
FULL-TIME: Warrington Wolves 25-12 Wigan Warriors
MAN OF THE MATCH – Daryl Clark:
The hooker was instrumental in attack for the Wolves as he lead from the front. His runs from dummy-half following a quick play the ball put his side on the front foot and read the defensive line well choosing when to pass or run at the right times.
Stefan Ratchford, Jake Mamo, Toby King, Ryan Atkins, Josh Charnley, Blake Austin, Declan Patton, Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Jack Hughes, Ben Westwood.
Interchanges: Ben Murdoch-Masila, Jason Clark, Lama Tasi, Joe Philbin.
Tries: Jake Mamo, Stefan Ratchford, Josh Charnley
Goals: Stefan Ratchford (3/4)
Drop-Goals: Declan Patton
Sin-Bins: Declan Patton
Dismissals: Ben Westwood
Zak Hardaker, Tom Davies, Dan Sarginson, Oliver Gildart, Morgan Escare, George Williams, Jarrod Sammut, Romain Navarette, Thomas Leuluai, Tony Clubb, Willie Isa, Joe Greenwood, Sean O’Loughlin.
Interchanges: Oliver Partington, Joe Bullock, Gabe Hamlin, Jake Shorrocks.
Tries: Tom Davies, Willie Isa
Goals: Zak Hardaker (2/2)
Sin-Bins: Dan Sarginson, Willie Isa