Wigan Warriors host the Warrington Wolves this Thursday in what is their fourth meeting of the season. It’s been poor watching for Warrington fans, as they’ve yet to beat the Warriors in 2017. A win for Wigan puts them just two points off the top four, and it will condemn the Wolves to a bottom four finish, and a spot in The Qualifiers.
LAST TIME OUT
Wigan Warriors come into this game on the back of a superb, morale boosting win in the South of France. The Warriors finished up 32-10 winners against a battling Catalan side. The game was very evenly contested for the opening 10-15 minutes, and it wasn’t until the 20th minute that Joe Burgess scored the game’s opening try, and Wigan led 6-0. Vincent Duport replied for the Dragons just five minutes later, but a George Williams penalty-goal gave the Warriors a somewhat deserved 8-4 halftime lead. It was a real tight contest, one that neither side could take a grasp of. The Dragons got off to a great start in the second half, when Duport went over for his second of the game, to put Catalans 10-8 in front. The final 20-25 minutes was all about Wigan, as they gained full control of the game, and blew Catalans away. Following another Williams penalty-goal, Wigan ran in for four tries through Williams, Sam Tomkins and two from Burgess who completed his hat-trick. It was a sensational finish to the game, one they needed to win. They dug real deep, and managed to see of the Dragons with considerate ease in the end, by finishing up 32-10 winners.
Warrington Wolves come into this game on the back of a huge, 50-10 win over fellow strugglers, Leigh Centurions. Warrington led throughout, and never looked in doubt of losing this one. In total, they ran in nine tries, four of which came from Tom Lineham, who had a field day at the Haliwell Jones Stadium. They won the first half 24-6, with tries from Ryan Atkins, Ashton Sims, and two from Lineham. Then, right on the halftime hooter, Ben Reynolds gave Leigh a glimmer of hope going into the second half with what already felt like a consolation try. On his debut, new Warrington centre, Ben Pomeroy got over for his first try to really seal the deal early in the second half. That try was followed up by another Lineham try, and then Jack Hughes got in on the action, as Warrington now led 40-6, with around 10 minutes to go. Matty Dawson did go over for Leigh, as they got themselves into double figures. But things soon got back on track as Warrington finished the game with another two tries, as Lineham got his fourth and Declan Patton rounded off the day’s scoring, and Warrington finished up 50-10 winners.
It’s always a good battle when these two sides meet, with some flashy tries, and bone-crunching defensive efforts. This should be no different.
Sam Tomkins vs Stefan Ratchford
It’s been four games back for Sam Tomkins, and he’s slowly starting to find his stride. He’s nowhere close to what he once was in cherry and white, but he’s still a danger for any side, and a player that Warrington can’t take lightly. As for Warrington, Stefan Ratchford has been used as full-back, centre and in the halves this season, and has struggled to settle in either role. He’s a natural full-back, and that’s where he should be come Thursday. He’s always a threat, and seems to like playing against Wigan.
John Bateman vs Ben Currie
It’s been a long nine months out for Ben Currie, but he finally makes his return this Thursday night, ironically against the side that he was injured against. These are two of the best in their position, and even though Currie is just making his comeback, he’ll be back with a point to prove. As for John Bateman, he’s been superb since making his return from injury just a few weeks back. Both are strong, and can influence the game for their side in both attack and defence.
On paper, Wigan’s three-quarters look far superior to Warrington’s. However, games are not played on paper, and it’s all about the night. Both sides have a winger going into this game on the back of a hat-trick with Joe Burgess and Tom Lineham, the latter scoring four against Leigh. Liam Marshall has been missing for the last two games, but I suspect he may be thrown back in this week, against a side he just loves to score against, having got eight in the three meetings with Warrington in 2017.
I think this will be a tight encounter, with both sides coming into it on the back of great wins. Both desperately need the win, but I think along with home advantage, and the extra bit of confidence, Wigan will get over the line on Thursday night.
Wigan Warriors by 14
Wigan Warriors assistant coach John Winder:
“At the weekend we started to get some combinations going, we just need to keep that going. I think it was a great performance.
“We saw what Warrington are capable of against Leigh. They’re a difficult proposition when they play that way.
“We’ve already played them three times this season and they’ve all been great competitions. They’re starting to get some bodies back on board, they’re a good team there’s no doubt about that.”
Warrington Wolves back-rower Ben Currie:
“I’m ready to go and looking forward to it this week. I feel 100 per cent confident in my knee. I’ve done a bit of contact work in training.
“The last couple of weeks I’ve been itching to play and the physio has recommended to give it a bit more time. It’s like after a pre-season for me now.
“I probably won’t have my full match fitness until I’ve played a couple of games but I’ve done everything possible. I feel fit, I feel ready, for however long they let me play in the game.”
Shaun Wane makes just the one change from the side that won in Perpignan last week, with Liam Marshall coming back into the squad for the injured Liam Farrell.
Tony Smith makes just the one change to the side that thrashed Leigh, with Ben Currie making his long-awaited return to the side, in place of Brad Dwyer.
Wigan Warriors: John Bateman, Joe Burgess, Tony Clubb, Tom Davies, Callum Field, Anthony Gelling, Oliver Gildart, Willie Isa, Thomas Leuluai, Liam Marshall, Michael Mcilorum, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Sam Tomkins, Jack Wells and George Williams.
Warrington Wolves: Ryan Atkins, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Kurt Gidley, Peta Hiku, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Benjamin Jullien, George King, Tom Lineham, Declan Patton, Joe Philbin, Ben Pomeroy, Stefan Ratchford, Andre Savelio, Ashton Sims, Morgan Smith and Ben Westwood.
Referee: James Child
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan
Date/Time: Thursday 13th July 2017 – 20:00pm GMT