By Rachel Arnett (image swpix)
Warrington travelled the short distance to Wigan with just three games of the Super 8s left to play and the semi finals on the horizon.
Both teams made changes to those that won last week – Warrington at home to Huddersfield and Wigan over Wakefield – as both were without their captains. The Wire also handed Luis Johnson his first-team debut off the bench and Stefan Ratchford was named as captain.
The sides went in having won two games apiece across their four previous meetings this season; Wigan edging a close-fought game last time the two were at the DW.
The first half was evenly contested and it took until the 38th minute for the deadlock to be broken when Leuluai won the race from the kick to get the first try of the night.
The second half proved to be just as highly contested, both defensive lines difficult to break down. The Wire pulled one score back with a try from Ratchford. But it was Wigan who took the points after a brace from Manfredi in the final 10 minutes took the game away from the visitors.
Sam Tomkins, Dom Manfredi, Oliver Gildart, Dan Sarginson, Tom Davies, George Williams, Tommy Leuluai, Tony Clubb, Sam Powell, Romain Navarrete, John Bateman, Willie Isa, Gabe Hamlin
Subs: Morgan Escare, Ryan Sutton, Oliver Partington, Taulima Tautai
Tries: Leuluai, Manfredi (2), Sutton
Goals: Tomkins (4), Williams
Sin Bin: Sam Tomkins – dissent – 52 mins
Stefan Ratchford, Tom Lineham, Bryson Goodwin, Ryan Atkins, Josh Charnley, Harvey Livett, Declan Patton, George King, Daryl Clark, Ben Westwood, Bodene Thompson, Toby King, Jack Hughes
Subs: Joe Philbin, Luis Johnson, Morgan Smith, Ben Pomeroy
Sin Bin: Tom Lineham – high shot -68 mins
After leading the team out Ratchford kicked the game off with the Wire first up in defence. On six minutes there was a chance for the Wire down the right edge as there was a challenge for the ball mid air, Charnley getting a hand to flick the ball back from Patton’s kick, but Tomkins was there to take possession.
Atkins fielded a grubber kick from Tomkins to deny Wigan the chance to score in the corner. On 13 minutes the Wire lost the ball in the tackle on half way, turning over possession and giving the home side a chance to attack the line.
Minutes later and a break from Clark and strong run from Westwood looked to have given the Wire a strong advantage but a big hit on Bennie forced a knock-on and scrum to Wigan.
After an evenly matched opening quarter the score line remained 0-0.
On 22 minutes a kick to the in-goal from Ratchford was chased down well but Wigan got a touch to it first to carry the ball out of play setting up a drop-out and a repeat set for the Wire building some pressure. Taking a short pass from Livett, Thompson went for the try but was held up over the line.
As the half hour mark approached Ratchford got the ball down over the line on the back of a Patton kick and after repeat pressure from the Wire, but the on-field decision was no try and the video referee concurred as the ball wasn’t collected cleanly, fumbled on the way to the line.
The tables then turned, Ratchford trapped in goal at the opposite end of the field as Wigan mounted a repeat set in attack, Isa getting to within inches of the line, just held back. A knock-on in the pass from Powell to Tautai then turned possession back over.
The Wire’s left hand side created an opportunity on 33 minutes before a cross-field kick from Livett was challenged down the right, again Charnley tapping it back, the ball ricocheting and Tomkins quick to react to the loose ball.
With less than three minutes to half time, Leuluai chased down a kick to the in-goal area. It was referred to the video referee and the grounding was deemed sufficient for the try and the first four-pointer of the game. Tomkins converted from in front to make it 6-0 at the break.
The Wire started the second half with some pace, Goodwin and Lineham combining well down the left and Toby King just unlucky with his kick to the corner for Charnley down the right.
On 48 minutes Manfredi slid in to field a kick to the in-goal by Patton, as Thompson went for the touchdown.
A few minutes later and Wigan were down to 12 men as Tomkins was shown the yellow card for dissent, disagreeing with a call going the way of Warrington as the home side mounted an attack to the line.
The Wire used this to their advantage. A dink through from Patton was followed up well by Ratchford who reached out for the try. Patton levelled things on 54 minutes with the conversion.
As the final quarter approached Westwood conceded a penalty in front of the posts for interference at the play the ball and Wigan opted to go for goal; Williams landing the two. 8-6
With just over 12 minutes of the game to go and Wigan back to full strength Lineham was sent to the sin bin for a high shot on Manfredi.
After a break down the right edge by Gildart chased down by Johnson on debut, play swept towards the middle and Manfredi found the gap to score. Tomkins with the goal took the score to 14-6.
It was the right edge of Wigan again referred to the video referee looking at a knock-on in the build-up, but Manfredi was awarded his second try. Tomkins adding the touchline conversion.
As the minutes ticked down the home side were over again, this time through Sutton. Tomkins with the goal from in front. 26-6