An electric Halliwell Jones roared Warrington to a 17-6 victory over Wigan in possibly the Wolves’ best performance of the season.
Warrington have defeated Leeds twice this season but it was an almost perfect game from Tony Smith’s side who only missed one tackle in the first forty. Richie Myler scored an early solo try which was followed by tries from Ryan Atkins and Gareth O’Brien either side of the interval. O’Brien also kicked a late first half drop-goal.
Smith said: “I’m really proud of the boys tonight they dug deep with their backs to the wall and it shows what you can do against the odds.”
Half-back Myler said: “We’ve been under some pressure recently and we really stood up tonight.”
Both Smith and Myler were full of praise for young hooker Brad Dwyer who again made an impact with coach Tony Smith saying he was “brilliant”. Their first win over Wigan since June 2013 now leaves the Wolves within two points of fourth place.
It was a dismal error-ridden evening from Wigan who looked lost at times going forward. Their only try coming from winger Dom Manfredi who latched onto the end of a well placed chip from Matty Smith.
Coach Shaun Wane said: “We were poor tonight, very poor, our skill wasn’t there tonight and the better team won.”
Smith said: “It was the same old story for us tonight. We gave away too many penalties and made too many mistakes and you can’t do that against a top side like Warrington.”
This was Warrington’s first Super League victory since their defeat of Catalans almost a month ago, incidentally the Dragons are the side they’ve leapfrogged to go into 6th place. A dominant first half performance was the key to Warrington’s victory.
The Wolves’ strong start was rewarded after 12 minutes when half-back Myler’s kicking ability came to the forefront. Myler would grubber the ball between the Wigan defence before then chipping it over an onrushing Matty Bowen on the volley – a wonderful bit of skill. Myler claimed the ball to put Warrington in front.
Wigan came close twice to levelling the scores. Firstly a mistake from Warrington gifted Wigan the ball a quick attack led to Lee Mossop driving for the line however centre Ryan Atkins managed to hold the front-rower up. A few minutes later it looked like Joe Burgess had gotten over in the corner however the video replay revealed that Myler and Kevin Penny’s efforts had put the winger over the touchline.
As expected when Warrington and Wigan meet it was a bruising encounter. Taulima Tautai was on the receiving end of George King’s shoulder which saw him leave the field after referee Ben Thaler had stopped play due to the head injury. Tautai will surely be relieved Thaler was on the ball as he didn’t look too sure as to where he was. Before this Myler had been cut on the eye leaving blood dripping down his left cheek.
Warrington extended their lead with three minutes of the half left when O’Brien floated the ball between the sticks from 15 metres out. However the Wolves weren’t done. Substitute Brad Dwyer had picked the pace of the game up, much like he did in the cup tie against Leigh, and it was his jink and pass from hooker that gave the home side a wider lead. Atkins was the beneficiary of Dwyer’s speedy attack.
Controversy struck early in the second forty when Dwyer put a grubber through before being pulled back by Liam Farrell. However referee Thaler didn’t think the penalty was worthy of a sin-bin. This decision didn’t affect Warrington as they went on to score just five minutes later. O’Brien throwing a dummy which centre Gelling fell for this allowed O’Brien to slide through the Wigan defence and crash over both Bowen and the Wigan try line.
Wigan did keep themselves in the game when Manfredi got onto the end of Smiths kick in the corner to score. It was a inch perfect chip from Smith which Manfredi was able to collect after outpacing Gene Ormsby.. The usual livewires of Ben Westwood and Michael Mcilorum were really firing their sides up which led the Halliwell Jones to reach fever pitch. Smith’s kicking game would give Wigan another opportunity when he kicked a 40/20 but the Warriors couldn’t build on their field position.
As the game drew to a close Wigan’s mistakes stopped them from mounting any sort of revival. Warrington’s defence remained as tough as it was in the first minute making it two wins on the run now for Smith’s side.
Wigan face a difficult proposition next weekend as they host Leeds at the DW Stadium on Thursday night. Meanwhile Warrington will travel to bottom side Wakefield who they beat 80-0 earlier in the season.
Warrington: Russell, Ormsby, Ratchford, Atkins, Penny, O’Brien, Myler, Hill, Clark, Sims, Westwood, Philbin, Harrison.
Interchanges: Dwyer, Asotasi, King, Wilde.
Wigan: Bowen, Manfredi, Gelling, Sarginson, Gelling, Burgess, Williams, Smith, Crosby, Mcilorum, Flower, Farrell, Tomkins, Sutton.
Interchanges: Powell, Mossop, Tautai, Patrick.
Referee: Ben Thaler Touch Judges: R. Hicks & C. Sharrad Attendance: 10,504