Happy homecoming for Gregory at Wigan helm

Warrington 16 Wigan 18
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Mike Gregory marked his first game in charge of Wigan with a win at the club for which he played for 15 years, but Warrington should have made yesterday's homecoming less congenial.

Wigan scraped home thanks to a late try from the outstanding Craig Smith to give Gregory a helping hand in his bid to keep the job permanently, but Warrington had the chances to win with something to spare.

"We turned a very good side inside out and created six clean breaks that we failed to convert," said the Warrington coach, Paul Cullen. "That lack of composure cost us a convincing victory."

As befitted Wigan's final visit to Wilderspool, this was a rugged affair from the start, with plenty of borderline tackling and hot temper.

The significant early thrust came from the Warrington centre, Ian Sibbit, whose charge from deep in his own half almost took him all the way. When he was hauled down short of the line, Wigan's defence was slow to regroup and Graham Appo put over the penalty.

That lead lasted until the half-hour, with both sides wasting some promising opportunities before Wigan eventually accepted one.

Warrington had been on the attack, with Brian Carney's knock-on from Appo's kick, but Warren Stevens lost the ball and Wigan worked their way to the other end, where Gareth Hock went over from Terry Newton's pass with Andy Farrell adding the conversion.

Warrington should have been at least level before half-time, but Lee Penny ran straight at Wigan's last line of defence, David Hodgson, with men in support and Ben Westwood was taken into touch when the ball eventually went wide.

Smith protected Wigan's lead with a try-saving tackle on Darren Burns at the start of the second half, but the Wolves went ahead after 51 minutes when Burns launched a high kick and Matt Wood leapt highest, with Appo tagging on the extra points.

Paul Wood then had a wonderful chance to stretch the lead after Hodgson lost the ball near his line, but was penalised for a double movement. That seemed to matter less when Burns made a clean break and found Appo in support for the converted try that put the Wolves eight points clear.

However, Dean Gaskell then made a glaring blunder by conceding a penalty for getting up and running after a tackle had been completed, and Brett Dallas scored from Kevin Brown's pass.

Appo's penalty gave Warrington an extra cushion, but Luke Robinson, Brown and Newton took Wigan 60 yards for Smith to touch down and Farrell to kick them ahead.

Wood and Smith went into the sin-bin as the main protagonists in a mass punch-up, but Wigan had landed the winning blow.

"They made me a very proud man in my first Super League game at a club where I spent many happy years," said Gregory.

Warrington: Penny; Grose, Sibbit, Westwood, Gaskell; N Wood, Appo; Hilton, Clarke, Stevens, Burns, P Wood, Noone. Substitutes used: Durbin, Hulse, Wainwright, Guisset.

Wigan: Hodgson; Carney, Aspinwall, Johnson, Dallas; O'Loughlin, Lam; O'Connor, Newton, C Smith, Tickle, Wild, Farrell. Substitutes used: Pongia, Hock, Brown, Robinson.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).

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