Wolves feast on Wigan's errors to sound warning

Warrington Wolves 30 Wigan Warriors 10

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The race for the leadership of Super League at the end of the regular season is wide open after Warrington closed the gap to one point with a victory even more convincing than the scoreline indicates.

The Wolves were dominant in the forwards, more creative in the half-backs and, perhaps most crucially, found a way of bottling up the mischievous genie that is Sam Tomkins.

"He scares you going into matches," admitted the Warrington coach Tony Smith. "You have to concentrate against him, but we handled him very well today."

Wigan might still hold on to first place going into the play-offs but, coming after their Challenge Cup semi-final defeat by Leeds, this puts a question mark against their credentials in the big matches.

"We were beaten by a better side who wanted it more," admitted the Wigan coach Shaun Wane. "I need to work harder and the players need to work harder."

There was not the faintest hint of having given up on the League Leaders Trophy or holding back anything for Wembley about the way Warrington began this match, helped as they were from the start by Wigan mistakes.

In the second minute, a pass from Brett Finch, intended for Tomkins, went to ground. Lee Briers, in his 400th game for the club, was first to react and, although his legs were not quite quick enough to put him clear of George Carmont's chasing tackle, the Wolves scored on the next tackle through Ben Westwood.

Five minutes later, Wigan could not defuse Briers' kick to the corner and were caught offside as they tried to defend. Chris Hill, such a revelation in his first season in Super League, attacked the line and Ben Harrison was in support to score.

The Warriors were on the brink of being swept away as Chris Riley was twice denied tries, once for a knock-on and once by Josh Charnley's superb tackle.

On a rare visit to the Wolves' end, Wigan won an offside penalty; Gareth Hock took responsibility and ploughed over to put his team back in the game.

Even that moment was soon soured, Brett Hodgson getting away with a blatant forward pass to put Joel Monaghan in for the third Warrington try. After Hodgson had edged Warrington further ahead with a penalty, both sides had try-scoring chances before the incident that demonstrated with blinding clarity that it was their day.

Matty Smith attempted an attacking kick; instead, the ball skewed off his boot into the arms of Stefan Ratchford, who went three-quarters of the field to score. Wigan got one back through Iain Thornley, but the Wolves underlined their superiority when Richie Myler touched down from Michael Monaghan's pass.

One boost for Wigan was that Pat Richards came through his comeback from injury while Warrington's only injury concern, two weeks ahead of the Cup final, was Scott Grix' cut head.

Warrington Hodgson; J Monaghan, Ratchford, Atkins, Riley; Briers, Myler; Morley, Higham. Hill, Waterhouse, Westwood, Harrison. Substitutes used M Monaghan, Carvell, Grix, Wood.

Wigan Tomkins; Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Thorniley; Finch, Smith; Lauaki, McIlorum, Mossop, Hansen, Hock, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used PrEscott, Lima, Farrell, Hughes.

Referee S Ganson.