Wigan Warriors struggled through to make it two wins from two over the Easter period, with a 16-10 win away at Wakefield. On a day when both sides seemed tired, and a bit lacklustre, Wigan just had enough quality to get over the line.
QUICK START TO THE GAME
Easter Monday games are often known for being a little flat. With both having played just a few days prior, both sides would be let off for looking a little tired. However, it was a quick start to this one, and it was Wigan who got off quickest. Following last year’s 62-0 defeat at Wakefield, it only took Wigan four minutes to get on the scoreboard in this one, as Sean O’Loughlin barged his way over and finished off strongly to put Wigan 6-0 up.
Wigan couldn’t kick-on from that great start, as Wakefield replied almost immediately through Scott Grix, who was on the end of a superb little Ashley Gibson kick through, which was missed by Morgan Escaré, and Grix was there for the easy finish. Liam Finn missed the conversion, and Wakefield trailed 6-4. Finn would later kick a penalty-goal to level the game up at 6-6.
Wigan would see out the remaining 10-minutes of the first half with 12-men, as Anthony Gelling was sent to the sin-bin following a poor challenge on Mason Caton-Brown. Gelling lifted the legs of the Trinity centre, which was deemed too dangerous for referee Jack Smith. It was a poor challenge from Gelling, one that he instantly regretted, as he apologised to Caton-Brown.
MORGAN ESCARE CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
Wigan had 10-minutes down to 12-men, and had to stay strong to keep out Wakefield from going over. They did hold out well, and defended rather comfortably. In the 34th minute, Wigan would re-take the lead through a superb Morgan Escaré try. The French International ran on to a George Williams pass, and sent Grix packing with a sweet jinx inside. It was a moment of brilliance that the game needed. Wigan led 12-6.
That try came just days after Escaré had signed a new 3-year deal that will keep him at Wigan until at least 2020. It’s a great deal for both parties, as Escaré has fitted in nicely down at Wigan, and looks to be an unbelievable signing. His try today made it four tries for the season, with the full-back being involved in a total of six Wigan tries. He’s been real influential for this Wigan side, and is always a threat.
Wakefield would pull one back before halftime, when a poor Ryan Sutton pass was pounced on by Trinity and gifted them a great chance. It was Ben Jones-Bishop who punished the Warriors error, as the in-form winger dove over in the corner for his eighth try of the season. Finn would yet again miss the conversion, so Wigan took a nervy 12-10 lead into halftime, with it all to play for in the second forty.
BOTH SIDES STRUGGLED
The second half was a real struggle, not only for the players, but the fans stood in the stands. It wasn’t a pretty game of rugby, and at times, it was a tough watch. Both sides were coming up with countless errors, and the referee was blowing his whistle too often. Wakefield did start the second half with more intent, and looked to be in Wigan’s faces a lot more, but there was still no attacking prowess from either side.
Wigan had a few chances, one in particular which saw a George Williams forward pass stop them from extending their lead. Wigan had more of the ball in the second half, but just struggled to do anything with it. Sam Powell went close at one stage, but was proven to be held-up over the line from the video referee. Wakefield defended well on the day, but at times, they didn’t have to do much to stop Wigan, who were their worst enemies.
In the final 20-minutes, Wakefield stated to enjoy more of the ball and had a lot of pressure near the Wigan line, but just like their opponents, they struggled to create anything significant. Both sets of fans started to get nervous, as it entered the final stages of the game, and it was getting to the time of next try wins. But the way the game was going, you really didn’t know who that was going to be.
YOUNG MARSHALL TO THE RESCUE
Going into the last 10-minutes Liam Marshall had a couple of great runs that got the Wigan fans excited and more behind their team. It was great to see the young winger run at the Trinity defence with such confidence. He had a few chances on the day to get over for his customary try in Wigan colours, but came just short on those occasions. That was until the 76th minute of the game.
After Wigan had repeats sets on the Wakefield line, a looping George Williams pass was touched by Ben Jones-Bishop right into the hands of winger Liam Marshall who went over for his ninth try in seven appearances for Wigan this season. His try would ultimately win the game for Wigan, and once again the young winger was in the right place at the right time to continue his great run of form since being thrown into the deep end.
His performances this season have been a real joy to watch, along with Tom Davies on the other wing, who yet again had another solid game. Both youngsters have come in and done a real job. After seven games in the first team, he’s scored nine tries, there’s not much more you could have asked for. This one was a real important one, as it sealed a 16-10 win for the Warriors, who move just three-points behind leaders, Castleford Tigers.
Wakefield Trinity head coach Chris Chester:
“I thought we deserved something out of it. They were two evenly-matched sides and to not come away with anything is disappointing.
“The effort was fantastic, we just lacked any real patience down their end. If we had executed better, we may well have got something out of it. It was just the final pass and there were four or five penalties in the second half that really hurt us.
“I thought we were really physical and defended very well. If we keep playing like that, we will win more than we lose. There were some really good efforts out there, unfortunately we just came up short.”
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane:
“It was a tough one last year in different circumstances and I’m glad to get back here and put things right a little bit, although we were way off to be honest.
“We had 50 per cent completion in the first half and there is no way you can a win game like that but we fixed it up in the second half.
“This is a hard place to come and they put us under pressure but we showed plenty of toughness to defend our line.”
IN THE SHEDS
Anthony Gelling was sent to the sin-bin in the 29th minute for a poor challenge on Mason Caton-Brown.
There were a few players from both sides who had to leave the field, but no immediate injuries have been reported by either coach following the game.
Wakefield Trinity: (10) 10
Tries: Grix, Jones-Bishop
Conversions: Finn 0/2
Penalty-goal: Finn 1/1
Wigan Warriors: (12) 16
Tries: O’Loughlin, Escaré, Marshall
Conversions: Escaré 2/3
Wakefield Trinity: Grix; Jones-Bishop, Caton-Brown, Gibson, Johnstone; Miller, Finn; Huby, Wood, England, Ashurst, Hadley, Arona
Replacements: Hirst, Allgood, Kirmond, Fifita
Wigan Warriors: Escaré; Davies, Gelling, Forsyth, Marshall; Williams, Leuluai; Flower, Powell, Tautai, J.Tomkins, Farrell, O’Loughlin.
Replacements: Nuuausala, Sutton, Gregson, Navarrete
Referee: Jack Smith
Venue: Belle Vue, Wakefield
Date/Time: Monday 17th April 2017 – 14:45pm GMT