Wigan Warriors 24
Tries: Joel Tomkins 2, John Bateman, Michael McIlorum, Ryan Sutton
Goals: Ryan Hampshire 2
Field Goals: nil
Huddersfield Giants 16
Tries: Anthony Mullally, Jamie Ellis, Aaron Murphy
Goals: Danny Brough 2
A much improved second half performance saw Wigan come from behind to beat Huddersfield 24-16 at the DW Stadium.
Joel Tomkins scored two tries for the home side and John Bateman, Michael McIlorum and Ryan Sutton scored one each.
Antony Mullally, Jamie Ellis and Aaron Murphy scored the Giants’ tries with all three coming in the first-half.
Referee Richard Silverwood sin binned Sam Powell for a chicken wing tackle on Eorl Crabtree in the first-half and Craig Huby and Sutton both saw yellow for throwing punches at each other just after the hour-mark.
George Williams pulled out of the Warriors starting lineup just before kick-off after picking up a groin injury during the warm-up. Ryan Hampshire was drafted in to partner Sam Powell at half-back, with Matty Smith suspended for kicking out at Rhys Hanbury during last weeks draw at Widnes.
Wigan’s cause wasn’t helped when Josh Charnley hit the ball out on the full straight from the kick-off, which invited immediate Huddersfield pressure. Anthony Gelling was tackled in goal to earn the Giants a dropout, and from the resulting set a low Danny Brough kick under the posts was taken away from Liam Farrell by Ellis, but the new signing from Castleford knocked on with the try line beckoning.
Huddersfield did get the first points of the match after seven minutes when Mullally charged onto Shaun Lunt’s short pass from dummy-half. Brough kicked the conversion as the Giants celebrated their first points of 2015.
The home side hit back ten minutes later, on the back of a dropout after Sean O’Loughlin had batted back a kick in goal and Jermaine McGillvary inadvertently kicked the ball dead. The ball was spread from left to right and Matty Bowen did brilliantly, delaying the final pass which suckered McGillvary out of the line, before finding Joel Tomkins for a walk in.
Bateman’s try put Wigan in front after a nice cut out pass by Sam Powell just to the right of the posts. Referee Silverwood asked the video referees to look for an obstruction, but the try was awarded.
The lead lasted just two minutes, though. Giants loanee Larne Patrick coughed up possession to Brett Ferres thirty metres from the Wigan line. The next play Leroy Cudjoe flung the ball back inside to Wigan loanee Jack Hughes who attacked the line before offloading for Ellis, who scored despite the attentions of Powell. Brough’s goal put Huddersfield 12-10 up.
Powell then committed a chicken wing tackle on Eorl Crabtree after the restart, for which Silverwood showed him the yellow card, and the visitors would take full advantage of their man advantage.
Murphy touched down in the left hand corner after young full-back Jake Connor placed a superb grubber kick between Gelling and Charnley into Wigan’s in goal area, and the winger pounced to put Huddersfield 16-10 up at the break.
The second half began scrappily, with both sides coming up with plenty of handling errors. It was a Luke Robinson offload to Chris Bailey that went forward that handed Wigan the possession from which they eventually scored.
A Bowen dab through bounced off Joe Wardle – who was superb all night in defence – before Brough gathered the loose ball from an offside position. From the resulting set Joel Tomkins barged his way through a poor attempted tackle by Cudjoe to get Wigan to within two points.
Charnley really ought to have scored eight minutes later, but he put down Connor Farrell’s pass ten metres from the try line with no Giant player seperating him from the whitewash.
The game was becoming a little fractious and tempers flared following a scrum. Huby and Sutton exchanged punches and were both sin binned by Silverwood, with the home side being awarded the penalty. The Giants did well to repel the Warriors over the next few minutes with Joel Tomkins and Bateman both going close to putting the hosts ahead.
However, with Wigan now enjoying the lion’s share of possession, they eventually succummbed to a McIlorum try that owed a lot to the superb work of Bateman. The second-rower had taken a bang to the head a matter of seconds earlier, before he took the ball from halfway, went round Murphy and Connor before offloading to McIlorum for a simple score. Hampshire missed the conversion but Wigan led by two points with ten minutes to go.
The Cherry and Whites made sure of the win seven minutes from the end through Sutton’s first ever try for Wigan. Hampshire converted to make the score 24-16, but it could have been even better. Bateman looked set to drop onto a low kick into the in goal area but the bounce evaded him when it looked for all the world he would score.
Shaun Wane’s men go into next Saturday’s World Club Series game with Brisbane Broncos unbeaten from their first two Super League XX games. Meanwhile, Huddersfield have lost their first two league matches for the first time since 2008.
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