WIGAN MAKE WARRINGTON WAIT

Wigan Warriors came from 14 points down, with only 12-men to beat the Warrington Wolves 35-28 in what was a phenomenal game of Rugby League down at the Halliwell Jones Stadium this Friday night. Warrington looked destined to lift the League Leaders Shield, however, the Warriors had other ideas. Wigan seemed dead an buried with 20 minutes to go, as they’d just had Ben Flower sent off and Warrington led 28-14. It seemed an impossible task for the Warriors to score three tries without response, but they found a way. Wigan have now won back-to-back games against the top two sides in the final minutes of the game, it doesn’t get much better than that, going into the much anticipated play-offs.

Wigan got off to a great start as Lewis Tierney slid over in the corner, after just 1 minute to get the ball rolling for the Warriors. Wigan would continue to put the pressure on the Warrington line early on and Warrington’s discipline started to hurt them. Smith would kick back-to-back penalties to give his side an early 8-0 lead. Wigan were in full control at this point, but it wouldn’t be a Wigan game without some defensive errors. In the 24th minute, a high ball wasn’t dealt with from Wigan, and Patton came up with the ball and played a superb looping pass out wide to Matty Russell who went over in the corner.

This seemed to change the game a little as Warrington started to get into it. However, they got a setback in the 31st minute when Stefan Ratchford was sent to the sin-bin following a late flop on Lewis Tierney. It seemed vey harsh on Ratchford, but their were no complaints from Wigan. Down to 12-men for the remainder of the first half, Wigan had a great chance to gain control of the game. However, it was Warrington who flurished as they scored back-to-back tries through Gidley and Hill to turn the game on its head an lead 16-8 going into halftime. Wigan’s discipline at this point was just unacceptable, giving Warrington cheap yards downfield, and it cost them big time.

However, just like the Wigan of old, they managed to have the last say in the half. Sam Tomkins would go over from dummy half to beat off four Warrington defenders to plonk the ball down for a very important try going into halftime. It seemed to give the Wigan fans and players a lift, and you felt like it would give them a much needed boost going into the second half. Smith kicked the conversion and Wigan trailed Warrington by 16-14 at halftime.

AGAINST ALL ODDS

After scoring right on halftime, you’d think that Wigan would’ve come out strong and try to get that early try they most desperately needed. Warrington had other ideas, they came out real strong and started to make some serious yards upfield. Following 3 straight penalties on the Wigan line, Joe Westerman forced his way under the posts for a Wire try. Only a couple of minutes later, Warrington were in again. This time it was Ben Currie who worked his way through the Wigan defence to stretch his sides lead to 28-14. Within the first 10 minutes of the second half, Wigan had conceded two tries and 5 penalties. While some may have been soft, thats not the point, the discipline of Wigan was terrible in important areas.

Amazingly, with 30 minutes to go, those were to be the last points that Warrington would score in the game. Things went from bad to worse for Wigan, as in the 57th minute, Ben Flower was rightfully sent off following a late forearm/elbow to the face of young Patton. With 22 minutes to go, Wigan needed 3 unanswered tries with just 12-men to gain a unlikely win. What followed in the final 20 minutes was simply remarkable.

In what was one of the greatest Wigan comebacks since the famous Bradford 2007 play-off game, Wigan would go on to score 4 tries in 19 minutes along with a drop-goal. Heres how it happened. It all started when Frank-Paul made a clean break and found Williams on his inside. From the resulting play, Charnley would squeeze in the corner to give the Warriors hope. Only 4 minutes later, Charnley was in the corner yet again after a superb pass out wide from Sam Tomkins.

With just 8 minutes to go, Wigan were really pilling on the pressure, and it finally paid off as Lewis Tierney scored a remarkable try in the corner to draw his side level. The try was a very controversial one for sure as the video referee had a good, long look at it, and it was a tough one to call, but Wigan got the benefit of the doubt. With just 4 minutes to go, Matty Smith would kick a drop-goal right in front of the posts to unbelievably put Wigan 29-28 in front. Wigan would seal the deal with a minute to go when the man of the match, Anthony Gelling intercepted on the halfway line and would wrap up a quite sensational 35-28 comeback win for the Warriors.

SIGN OF CHAMPIONS

With 20 minutes to go, Warrington were preparing their trophy celebrations for lifting the League Leaders Shield. There aren’t many sides in Super League who would’ve done what Wigan did on Friday night at Warrington. Many other sides would’ve switched off and conceded a few more tries late on, or just gone through the motions to finish off the game. With 13-men, that sort of comeback would still be unbelievable, but with 12-men, for a good 20 minutes, just makes it that much better.

This sort of comeback and win away at your League rivals, is the sort of win that Champions are made of. They did it last week away at the home of the Challenge Cup winners, and again this week. With Catalans to come at home, Wigan look set to have a home game in the play-offs, hoping that there is a winner in the Hull/Warrington game. This is a huge boost for the Warriors, following their season, to potentially get a home game against a side who they’ve recently beaten in such remarkable fashion.

None of Saints, Hull or Warrington will want to play Wigan in that semi-final. Wigan will be full of confidence going into that play-off game, assuming they do go on and beat Catalans at home next week, in what is their final game of the Super 8s. With Hull and Warrington to play each other in their final games, it really could be a great weekend for the Warriors. They go and beat Catalans and hope that Hull and Warrington beat the living hell out of each other for that League Leaders Shield. Meanwhile, Wigan will be waiting for either of them the week later.

You’d have to be a real brave person to back against Wigan going all the way and wining the Grand Final. It would be some effort considering the players that they are missing. Many Wigan fans will just be hoping that they haven’t won their big games too early in these last two weeks. They have the most momentum of all 4 teams going into the play-offs, and that could be made even bigger with another win next week to seal a 2nd place finish for the Warriors.

POST-GAME MEDIA

Warrington coach Tony Smith:

“We were in a position where you’d like to think you could close the game out, particularly against a team with a man down.

“(On Ratchford sin-binning and Flower red card) I was pretty confident the player was still sliding on the ground – if that is a sin-binning, we are going to see a lot of sin-binnings.

“I thought the sending off was harsh as well.

“We take ownership of our performance and my players had enough chances to win that game but I thought there were some big decisions in that game, some made by the players and some by the officials.”

Credit to BBC Sport: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/37354102

Wigan coach Shaun Wane:

“(On Flower’s dismissal) If you slow anything down, it can make it look bad – I didn’t see much in that, I’m sure it will be seen the correct way.

“We were under pressure against a team playing really well. I thought it was a great effort and, for guts and determination, it’s a fantastic win.

“To overcome that adversity makes it really satisfying. We have that unbreakable spirit and trust in each other.”

Credit to BBC Sport: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/37354102

IN THE SHEDS

This game, as expected, was a real bone cruncher. Because of this, there were a few injuries and incidents to report.

Wigan’s Sam Powell was the first to leave the field. The hooker collided with a Warrington player in the 6th minute of the game and never returned. Wane has since confirmed he’ll be tested over the coming days.

Warrington lost Ben Currie in the 52nd minute following his try, in were Currie seemed to tweak his knee. The player didn’t return to the game. It was confirmed after the game that Currie would have a scan on Monday.

Wigan’s Ben Flower was sent off in the 57th minute of the game following a high forearm/elbow to the face of Patton. There were no complaints from me about the decision, very poor from Flower.

Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford was sin-binned in the 31st minute of the game following a flop, which stopped Wigan gaining an advantage.

FINAL SCORE

Warrington Wolves: (16) 28

Tries: Russell, Gidley, Hill, Westerman, Currie

Goals: Patton 4/5

Wigan Warriors: (14) 35

Tries: Tierney 2, Tomkins, Charnley 2, Gelling

Goals: Smith 3/5, Shorrocks 2/3

Drop goal: Smith 1/1

MATCH DETAILS

Warrington Wolves: Ratchford, Russell, King, Atkins, Evans, Gidley, Patton, Hill, Clark, Sims, Currie, Hughes, Westerman.

Replacements: Wilde, King, Dwyer, Philbin.

Wigan Warriors: S Tomkins, Charnley, Gelling, Sarginson, Tierney, Williams, Smith, Nuuausala, Powell, Flower, Bateman, Farrell, Isa.

Replacements: Crosby, Tautai, Sutton, Shorrocks.

Referee: Robert Hicks

Attendance: 13,044

Venue: Haliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington

Date/Time: Friday 16th September 2016 – 20:00pm GMT