Karl Pryce has been a forgotten man for much of his two seasons at Wigan, but he had an evening to remember in North Wales and his four tries made up most of the difference between the sides. In fairness, only one of the four took a lot of scoring, but plenty of good rugby league careers have started with being in the right place at the right time.
"He's doing a great job of putting himself in the positions to score the tries," said the Wigan coach, Michael Maguire, after his side opened up a four-point gap at the top of the table. "It's great for Karl, but a lot of people are working very hard inside him."
This was a game that was as good as won in the first 14 minutes, in which Wigan scored four converted tries through some paper-thin defence. Two of them went to Pryce. Sean O'Loughlin started it all off by touching down from Thomas Leuluai's kick, before Pryce strolled in for his first from Pat Richards' cut-out pass. Pryce's second, from George Carmont's pass, was equally simple, although there was then some slick handling when Wigan went the other way for Martin Gleeson to score a try on his return to the side after last week's suspension.
Crusaders slowed down the rate of scoring, keeping their line intact for 12 minutes before Pryce went in again without having a hand seriously laid upon him. The right side of the home defence – Gareth Thomas and all – was once more all at sea.
When they were at last able to command some possession, Crusaders showed a willingness to attack with some conviction and they got their reward with a try from Nick Youngquest. The Welsh revival continued after the break, with Rhys Hanbury scoring thanks to good work by Jarrod Sammut.
Richards kept Wigan well ahead with a lovely individual try to go with his eventual tally of seven goals, but Gleeson had an embarrassing moment when Jason Chan ran straight through him for a try that kept the Crusaders interested.
That made the timing of Pryce's fourth try significant - and it was by far the best of the bunch as he squeezed inside the corner flag.
"He's a good finisher," said the Crusaders' coach, Brian Noble, the man who revived his career by taking him to Wigan after an abortive spell in union with Gloucester. "When you're that big you're pretty difficult to stop."
Crusaders continued their drive toward respectability with tries from Michael Witt and Peter Lupton, although Wigan had the last word with Gleeson's second.
"We were horrible in the first few minutes but the conviction in the second half was a whole lot better," said Noble.
Crusaders Schifcofske; Thomas, Mellars, Hanbury, Youngquest; Witt, Sammut; O'Hara, Withers, Flower, Hauraki, Chan, Trimarchi. Substitutes used: Thackray, Lupton, Bryant, Peek.
Wigan Warriors Richards; Goulding, Gleeson, Carmont, Pryce; S Tomkins, Leuluai; Fielden, Riddell, Coley, Bailey, J Tomkins, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: McIlorum, Farrell, Davies, Paleaaesina.
Referee T Alibert (France).Reuse content