Betts on the brink as Warriors lose again

Warrington 28 - Wigan 22
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The Independent Online

News of Wigan's fourth defeat in six games was telephoned to the club's chairman, Maurice Lindsay, in Australia within minutes of the final hooter.

News of Wigan's fourth defeat in six games was telephoned to the club's chairman, Maurice Lindsay, in Australia within minutes of the final hooter.

The ramifications could well be felt much closer to home this week, however, if Lindsay, who is scouting for players Down Under, decides to dispense with his coach, Denis Betts.

In his first year in charge, Betts has been thwarted by injuries and an inexperienced team, but, with the sacked St Helens coach, Ian Millward, looking for work, that might not be enough to save his skin.

Nothing would tickle Wigan's bosses more than to appoint their arch rival's former coach and see him mastermind Saints' downfall in next month's Challenge Cup quarter-final, as well as a much-needed climb back up the table for Wigan.

The Warriors actually played far better than they had in their two embarrassingly narrow recent wins, over the French side UTC in the Challenge Cup last week and against relegation-threatened Widnes the week before.

Yet Betts acknowledged that he could now be at the mercy of others after seeing his side beaten by a Warrington side who have been on fine form in the last few weeks.

"That's the pressure we face," he said. "We are here to win and perform. If you are asking about my job I don't know, it is not my job to employ me or sack me. I have just got to keep doing what I do. We performed a lot better than in the UTC and Widnes games and yet we won those. If we play well and lose we are judged on the loss."

Betts must feel particularly beleaguered after seeing Brett Dallas knock on with a try at his mercy in the last seconds of the game. The missed score would have set up an easy conversion attempt.

On top of that, Warrington's key player was their scrum-half Nat Wood, a man Betts rejected a few months ago when Wigan wanted to sign him, claiming he was too old at 32.

It was a judgement Wood clearly delighted in making a mockery of as he scored the final, winning try in the 77th minute after helping set up a second try for Danny Lima which gave Warrington the lead.

The Warrington manager, Paul Cullen, said: "I am absolutely 100 per cent convinced that the Wigan business was in the back of Nat's mind. Not that he needs that kind of motivation because there was no one else who was going to win that game like he was today. He was absolutely sensational.''

Wigan took the lead three times, with tries from Martin Aspinwall, Danny Tickle and Dennis Moran, with Tickle converting all three and adding two penalties.

But they rarely held their lead for long, with the Wolves standing toe-to-toe and countering with tries from Mike Wainwright, Lima and Logan Swann before their late brace of tries that won the game.

Warrington: Grose; Fa'afili, Martin Gleeson, Kohe Love, Gaskell; Bridge, N Wood; Leikvoll, Clarke, Hilton, Swann, Wainwright, Westwood. Substitutes used: Noone, Mark Gleeson, P Wood, Lima.

Wigan: Brown; Dallas, Vaealiki, Aspinwall, Carney; Orr, Moran; Seuseu, Newton, Guisset, Hansen, Wild, Tickle. Substitutes used: Sculthorpe, Godwin, Allen, McDonald.

Referee: A Klein (Keighley).