Successive record defeats at Leeds and St Helens had piled the pressure on Millward and the injury-hit Warriors. But a purple patch at the start of the second half - which saw Dennis Moran, Terry Newton and Danny Tickle cross for vital touchdowns - saw them overcome a half-time deficit to pick up a welcome win that lifts them five points above the drop zone and within touching distance of the top six.
Millward said: "It's been a tough week, but we will learn from it. It would have been tough for us to have lost there, with them going down this year. But we contemplated nothing all week but winning.
"I am pleased for the players, I am pleased for Maurice [Lindsay, the Wigan chairman], who has taken a lot this week, and I could not be more pleased. It was a very fierce derby, it was a big day for Leigh, and it was a big day for us. It probably meant more to the citizens of the area too, and nothing would have been good enough apart from a win. Now we are just one point off the top six. We are on the outside looking in, and that has not changed."
Leigh's coach, Darren Abram, admitted he had "mixed feelings" about the result, which leaves his side marooned at the bottom of the table with games running out. Abram said: "I am disappointed not to come away with the two points, but we highlighted Wigan's weaknesses in the week and I thought we did really well."
The Leeds coach, Tony Smith, bizarrely rounded on his players while his Bradford counterpart, Brian Noble, praised his after the Rhinos' derby victory. Leeds, the champions, outmuscled the Bulls 36-26 at Headingley to maintain their recent strangle-hold over their fierce rivals.
The Rhinos were dominant in all departments as they ran in six tries to five to move five points clear at the top - but Smith was far from happy. He said: "I thought it was a very poor performance. We set high standards and I thought it was unlike us. Our discipline was poor, we gave away possession in areas and I am not happy about it."
Conversely, Noble was satisfied with the Bulls, even though his side trail the Rhinos by 13 points. The Bulls were second best, with two tries from Paul Johnson and further scores from Jamie Peacock, Ben Harris and Brad Meyers flattering them. The Rhinos' tries came from Keith Senior and Danny McGuire, who scored two each, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Ali Lauitiiti. Noble said: "I have seen enough to know we can make the shake-up. If we make the top six we can make an impact."
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