Warrington edged to the top of Super League, at least until Huddersfield's trip to Hull KR tomorrow, at the end of a match that managed to be both a complete mess and absolutely enthralling.
Wigan, ahead for most of the evening, were beaten because they lost their discipline at the end. There is a hard lesson to be learned there, especially by Epalahame Lauaki, who was implicated in both the late penalties that decided the result. "He needs to be better than that," said his coach, Shaun Wane. "He's been great for me this year but he's let himself down with those two plays."
Pat Richards gave Wigan the early lead with a penalty that took his personal tally for the club above the 2,000-point mark. Straight from the kick-off, the Wolves forced a mistake from Paul Prescott, and Ryan Atkins scored the night's first try, with Brett Hodgson added the conversion from the touchline.
The Wolves were finding Gareth Hock a handful and, after Michael McIlorum had been held up over the line, it was he who forced his way over.
Richard and Sam Tomkins then had a nasty collision, and when McIlorum scored soon after, Josh Charnley, kicking for the still-groggy Richards, missed an easy goal. That left the door ajar for the Wolves to draw level by half-time and Joel Monaghan squeezed in at the corner. Hodgson could not land the goal, but squared the scores with a penalty.
Tomkins began the second half with a dazzling run that should have brought a try, if not for him then for one of his team-mates in support. No matter; Warrington could not regroup and Richards scored anyway. A Charnley penalty stretched Wigan's lead, but it was all square again when Lee Briers intercepted Thomas Leuluai's pass. Matty Blythe's steal then allowed Charnley to edge Wigan back in front.
The tension showed when Lauaki was placed on report for a high tackle on Simon Grix, while Prescott also went high to give Hodgson his invitation to level again. Lauaki's indiscipline yielded another penalty for his spear-tackle on Blythe and the Wolves were ahead – and this time they stayed there.
Wigan: S. Tomkins, Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Richards, Finch, Leuluai, Prescott, McIlorum, Lauaki, Hansen, Hock, O'Loughlin.
Replacements used: Lima, Farrell, Tuson, Flower.
Warrington: Hodgson, Riley, C. Bridge, Atkins, J. Monaghan, Briers, Myler, Morley, M. Monaghan, Cooper, Waterhouse, Westwood, Grix.
Replacements used: Wood, Blythe, Hill, Dwyer.
Referee: R Silverwood (Dewsbury)