On a night when many young players made their mark, Sam Powell kicked a late drop goal and created a try to take Wigan’s winning run to 13.
Widnes won the same fixture by one point last season, so this was sweet and symmetrical revenge.
Apart from the absence of the injured Sam Tomkins, the game was notable for the debut of a player with the pedigree to maybe one day replace him. Like his father, the former dual- code England international, Jason Robinson, Lewis Tierney was making his first appearance for Wigan at the age of 18. During his league career, Robinson made more than 300 appearances for Wigan, winning the man of the match award in the first Super League Grand Final in 1998, and he was also part of the Challenge Cup-winning teams of 1993 and 1995.
In all, the Warriors were without nine first-choice players, but the statistic concerning Tomkins was the worrying one; of the last six games they have played without him, five have been lost. That and the fact that they lost at Widnes by a single point with a weakened team last season.
The name Tomkins soon appeared on the scoresheet, younger brother Logan taking advantage of some dozy defence from dummy-half after only two minutes. Widnes, with their own injury headaches, replied quickly through Patrick Ah Van.
Not surprisingly, Widnes put plenty of pressure onto young Tierney. Not only did he stand up well to that, but after 13 minutes he scored his first Wigan try, taking Ian Thornley’s pass and darting over.
A cross-field kick from another of Wigan’s bright young men, George Williams, then set up Anthony Gelling. Widnes were showing some resilience, however, as Rhys Hanbury’s break released Adam Lawton for their second try of the game.
By half-time they were level, thanks to Hanbury’s kick and Jack Owen’s pass to Frank Winterstein.
After the break, the sides traded tries, a length-of-the field effort from Josh Charnley cancelled out by the excellent Hanbury.
Widnes hit the front for the first time through Ah Van’s second as the inexperience of Wigan’s youthful team began to show. The mistakes were beginning to mount up and after Charnley lost the ball near his own line Ah Van went desperately close to a match-winning hat-trick.
Instead, Tierney played a major part in Gelling’s equaliser, setting up a nail-biting finish.
Powell put over his unexpected drop goal and then the nerves got to Ah Van who lost the ball near his line, setting up Powell to make a neat pass to assist Scott Taylor’s try for Wigan.
There was till time for Ah Van to compete his treble, but not for Widnes to come back again.
Widnes Hanbury; Owens, Dean, Isa, Ah Van; Craven, Mellor; Pickersgill, Clarke, O’Carroll, Winterstein, Allen, Cahill. Subs used Leuluai, Lawton, Kavanagh, White.
Wigan Tierney; Charnley, Goulding, Thornley, Gelling; Powell, Williams; Lauaki, L Tomkins, Mossop, Hansen, Tuson, Burke. Subs used Hughes, Taylor, Crosby, Hampshire.
Referee J Child (Dewsbury)