Wigan Warriors 62 Widnes Vikings 4: Charnley leads rout of the Vikings
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
The DW Stadium
Sunday 24 March 2013
A rapid-fire hat-trick of tries scored over 10 destructive minutes of the first half by Josh Charnley set Wigan on the way to a hugely impressive win over last season's bottom club.
The England winger struck in the 12th, 14th and 22nd minutes and Widnes Vikings never looked like recovering. Charnley finished with four tries, a couple of assists and a try-saving tackle.
Not a bad evening's work, but it still left room for Sam Tomkins to celebrate his 24th birthday with three tries.
"We played well and there were some outstanding individual performances," said the Wigan coach, Shaun Wane. "We were tough in defence and ruthless on attack."
It was a bitterly disappointing outcome for the Widnes coach and former Wigan hero, Denis Betts. "I enjoyed watching the speed and precision of Wigan tonight," he said. "They played so fast and so hard that it was a real lesson for us. We just got squashed in their path."
Widnes included six former Wigan players, but not Gareth Hock, on a season-long loan from the Warriors but not allowed to play against them because of the terms of his contract.
The Vikings could have done with Hock's physical presence in the opening stages as Wigan came out of their starting blocks to such devastating effect.
Remarkably, there were question marks over their first three tries, although there were plenty of less controversial ones to follow.
Pat Richards might not have defused a bomb correctly before Charnley set up Sam Tomkins for Wigan's first, while there was a hint of a forward pass about his own first and second tries. The winger completed his hat-trick from Matty Smith's perfectly weighted kick and, just as impressively, made the tackle on Patrick Ah Van that denied Widnes on their single dangerous attack of the first half.
Tomkins scored a lovely little try from his own clever kick, Charnley unselfishly laid one on for Chris Tuson and then capitalised on a tremendous break and pass from Scott Taylor for his personal fourth.
Wigan were without their captain, Sean O'Loughlin, for the entire second half with a rib injury, but they continued the mayhem through Liam Farrell and Richards, who added a try to his eventual tally of nine goals.
Widnes made it a semblance of a contest as Wigan eased up in the final quarter, but still managed another try via Iain Thornley. Lloyd White got the Vikings' consolation try with five minutes to play, before Tomkins completed his treble.
Wigan Warriors: S Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Thornley, Richards; Green, Smith; Flower, McIlorum, Crosby, Farrell, Tuson, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Hughes, Taylor, L Tomkins, Burke.
Widnes Vikings: Hanbury; Flynn, Dean, Isa, Ah Van; White, Mellor; Cross, Clarke, O'Carrol, Winterstein, Allen, Cahill. Substitutes used: Kavanagh, Joseph, Leuluai, Gerrard.
Referee: Tim Roby.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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