Both the Wigan Warriors and the Huddersfield Giants had both started the season poorly and needed a win and it was the Giants who picked up the vital two points in what was scrappy and bloody encounter at the DW Stadium.
It was the Giants Aaron Murphy who made the first impact as he released Darnell McIntosh but good defence from the Warriors prevented the Giants from opening the scores within the first five minutes.
However, the Giants did pick up the first try, and it came in the 11th minute through Kruise Leeming. Once again, Aaron Murphy was involved and the loose forward broke through the Wigan defensive line and offloaded to Frawley to pop onto the hooker, Leeming, who jinxed past two Warriors players and slide over the line. Lee Gaskell converted the try for an early 6-0 lead.
Wigan then suffered an injury blow with around a quarter of a game gone as Liam Marshall limped off after attempting to tackle Jermaine McGillvary, with Marshall coming off, Escare entered the field.
The game just wasn’t opening up in the first half but with less than ten minutes to go in the first half, Huddersfield did manage to cross the line again through Suaia Matagi but after going to the TMO the big man knocked the ball on before the line.
Just before half-time tempers flared a little as Willie Isa took exception to a Joe Wardle tackle but nothing more than pushing and shoving occurred and Wigan failed to deliver on the final set before the half-time break.
HALF-TIME: Wigan Warriors 0-6 Huddersfield Giants
To add to Wigan’s injury woes, Dom Manfredi failed his Head Injury Assessment which left the Warriors with no specialist winger on the field.
Despite this, in was the makeshift winger in Morgan Escare who scored Wigan’s first try. A mistake from the Giants left them with no players in a defensive set up and Thomas Leuluai kicked the ball behind the defensive line for the Frenchman to latch onto and race under the posts to score. Zak Hardaker successfully converted to level the scores.
Huddersfield’s main catalyst Aaron Murphy was the next to pick up a knock after turning his ankle in a tackle and limped off the field just as Wigan looked to take control of the game.
As well as having no specialist winger on the field, they also had to move Sean O’Loughlin into the halves after Sam Powell suffered potential ligament damage after rolling his ankle.
The physicality continued despite the injury problems and Wigan lost another man, but not due to injury, after Taulima Tautai kicked out in the tackle, and connected with the jaw of Akuma Ta’ai which resulted in the Warriors forward spending ten minutes on the bench.
With the option to take the lead, Lee Gaskell pushed the Giants ahead with two points from the boot after the penalty against Tautai.
Huddersfield took advantage of the extra man brilliantly as they camped inside the Wigan half and Adam O’Brien popped a short ball to Joe Wardle who powered over the top of Leuluai who left a huge gap inside him. Gaskell converted once more and the away side led by eight with just under 15 minutes remaining.
Taulima Tautai seemed to rejoin the field at least a minute before he should have but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference as the Giants increased the speed of their game going into the final ten minutes.
The TMO was in use once again with two minutes left as Chris Hankinson insisted that he had scored the try. However the makeshift winger was tackled before he stretched the ball to the line.
This guaranteed the win for the Giants, and ended a nine-game losing streak dating back to last season.
FULL-TIME: Wigan Warriors 6-14 Huddersfield Giants
Man of the Match – Joe Wardle:
Wardle set a good example not only to his younger brother Jake, who he played alongside for the first time tonight for the Giants, but also the rest of his teammates. He suffered a cut to the back of his head in the first minute of the game but continued to put his body on the line to stop the Warriors from breaking through. He also scored the match winning try in a brilliant all-round performance and ended the game in the dressing room undergoing a Head Injury Assessment.
Zak Hardaker, Dom Manfredi, Chris Hankison, Oliver Gildart, Liam Marshall, George Williams, Thomas Leuluai, Tony Clubb, Sam Powell, Ben Flower, Willie Isa, Liam Paisley, Sean O’Loughlin.
Interchanges: Joe Bullock, Taulima Tautai, Gabe Hamlin, Morgan Escare.
Zak Hardaker (1/1)
Darnell McIntosh, Jermaine McGillvary, Jordan Turner, Jake Wardle, Akuila Uate, Lee Gaskell, Matthew Frawley, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Ukama Ta’ai, Joe Wardle, Alex Mellor, Aaron Murphy.
Interchanges: Adam O’Brien, Oliver Roberts, Suaia Matagi, Michael Lawrence.
Kruise Leeming, Joe Wardle
Lee Gaskell (3/3)
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