Warrington's two-year reign as Challenge Cup holders is over, thanks to a blistering start to this quarter-final by Wigan and the deadly finishing of Josh Charnley in the latter stages. The Wolves almost succeeded in fighting back from a 22-point deficit, but they were finally killed off by two tries in four minutes from the young winger.
Warrington suffered a serious setback before kick-off, as the half-back Lee Briers, so often their inspiration, was ruled out with a calf injury. On top of the absence of Adrian Morley and Ben Harrison, that made them look vulnerable. For the first 25 minutes, they were.
With the gale at their backs, Wigan dominated, taking the lead when Paul Deacon sent Thomas Leuluai through a yawning gap and Harrison Hansen supported. Almost directly from the restart, Sam Tomkins scored an 80-metre try that encapsulated just what a thrilling player he is. When Andy Coley went through some weak tackling for a third try and some sublime handling sent Pat Richards over in the corner for the fourth, it seemed the Wolves' reign was at an end.
Astonishingly, they spent the last 15 minutes of the half getting almost back on terms. Matt King started the revival, taking Ryan Atkins's pass to go in. Richie Myler then scored twice, first from King's inside pass and then from Michael Monaghan's break. Wigan still had the lead, but Warrington had the momentum.
Wigan coped no better with the sun in their eyes and the swirling wind in their faces than the Wolves had done, Richards dropping the first kick that came his way, from which David Solomona scored to narrow the gap to two points. Solomona was later taken off with a knee injury, sustained in a tackle that he said was "nastyand unnecessary".
Richards scored a second, though a suspect forward pass from George Carmont was involved, before Joel Monaghan's interception from Brett Finch looked certain to bring Warrington back into it. Wigan regrouped to stop a try then, but a couple of minutes later King muscled his way over from Brett Hodgson's pass.
The ebb and flow continued with Charnley's first try, from Joel Tom-kins's knock-down, and the tie was as good as won when Charnley picked up a loose ball near his own posts and raced the length of the pitch. It was a fitting way to decide a memorable quarter-final, although Sean O'Loughlin's late try made it look a lot more comfortable than it was.
Warrington: Hodgson; J Monaghan, Blythe, Atkins, King; Bridge, Myler; Wood, M Monaghan, Carvell, Anderson, Westwood, Grix. Substitutes used: Higham, Clarke, Cooper, Solomona.
Wigan: S Tomkins; Charnley, J Tomkins, Carmont, Richards; Finch, Deacon; Coley, Leuluai, Lima, Hansen, Hoffman, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: McIlorum, Prescott, Mossop, Hock.
Referee: R Silverwood (Dewsbury).