Warrington Wolves gave themselves slight hope of escaping the bottom four with a 16-10 win against a lacklustre Wigan Warriors. On what was Sean O’Loughlin’s 400th game for Wigan, they failed in their attempt to mark his special occasion with a win.
NOT THE BEST OF QUALITY
The first few seconds of the game set the tone for the remaining 79 minutes, as the ball was lost from the kick-off, and Wigan had an early chance. In their first attack, Wigan got the game’s first try, as Thomas Leuluai played an inch-perfect kick through and Oliver Gildart was on hand to score an easy try. Wigan led 4-0 after just one minute.
The game wasn’t great at all, and neither side could really take control of it, with countless errors, and poor discipline from both, it made for a real stop and start game. I felt like I heard James Childs whistle more than I saw sets complete. It was a real low quality affair, between two sides who last year contested the Grand Final.
Wigan/Warrington games are normally quality affairs, with both sides normally producing an exciting, nail-biting match. However, this one fell way short of that, as the error count was too high, and the quality on the pitch was drastically low. Warrington got the win, so they won’t care, but I’m sure even they’d admit how poor it was.
SLOPPY, CLUMSY AND CHEAP
In the 14th minute, Benjamin Jullien got Warrington level. It came on the back of a sloppy Wigan penalty, and Warrington ran the ball on the last and Jullien barged his way over past a weak Wigan defence. It was a real soft try to concede from a Wigan perspective as they normally boast about their strong defence.
However, Wigan did hit back with what was the only real bit of quality during the game. From a scrum, the ball was fizzed out to Sean O’Loughlin who played Leuluai through a gap, and he found John Bateman on his inside who finished off under the posts. It showed what good Wigan can do with the ball, something that’s been missing lately.
Wigan led 10-4, and were looking to extend their lead and try to gain a strong advantage going into the second half. In the 28th minute came a good moment, as Ben Currie made his long-awaited return from a near 10-month injury, that ironically, he got against Wigan. It was great to see such a great, young player run back onto the pitch again.
WIGAN’S LACKLUSTRE ATTACK
The game, for a moment – started to get into some sort of rhythm, however, that was short lived as errors crept back in and the game started to dip again. Just before halftime, once again on the back of another soft penalty, Warrington scored again, and cut the gap to two points from a Ryan Atkins try.
Declan Patton put a cross-field kick in, and Tom Lineham was the first to react, as he palmed it back and Ryan Atkins had an easy finish in the corner. It was yet again another real poor try to concede for Wigan, and I’m sure Shaun Wane was furious with their defensive efforts at time during that first half.
The second half continued in the same poor vain of the fist, as the chorus of James Childs whistle continued. What was real disappointing from a Wigan perspective was their boring, lacklustre and complete non-existing attack. Apart from the Bateman try, they just offered nothing in attack that could trouble any side.
CURRIE RETURNS IN STYLE
In the 56th minute Currie marked his return with a match-winning try, right in front of the travelling Warrington fans. It was a great moment for him, one I’m sure he’d been dreaming of all week. Even without full match fitness, it was clear to see how much they’d missed Currie this season, and the tail end of 2016.
Stefan Ratchford would capitalise on Wigan’s poor discipline and kick two penalties towards the end of the game to give Warrington a 16-10 victory. It was their first away win in the league since the middle of May. It may be too late for a great escape out of the bottom four, but their last two games are good signs heading into The Qualifiers.
As for Wigan, while we’re not too sure how damaging this result will be for their play-off chances, it was a definite morale-crushing defeat. They really can’t afford to lose another game now, and it may be a case of putting all the eggs in the Challenge Cup basket and ending the season with another trophy.
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane:
“It was a massive game, the 400th for Lockers (Sean O’Loughlin) and we had loads of reasons to win the game, but I didn’t see the desperation.
“We owed him a victory and we didn’t get it. That’s why I feel bad and really angry. I’m really disappointed and they know that.
“One hundred per cent Warrington deserved to win. They had too much enthusiasm for us which is something you can’t practice. They had better line speed and ran harder.”
Warrington Wolves head coach Tony Smith:
“Defensively I thought we were outstanding. Wigan are always going to ask questions of you, so to limit them to 10 points was very good.
“The first half try they scored was dubious or I don’t know the rules, but I’m glad my boys were able to dig in for each other and come through.
On Ben Currie: “Aside from his try, I thought he was terrific. I thought he did everything that was asked of him and more. It showed what a class player he is.”
IN THE SHEDS
There were no immediate injuries to report for either side.
I fancy a few players to be cautioned/suspended by the RFL next week. For Wigan, they could be set to lose both Joe Burgess (hair pull) and John Bateman (striking).
Meanwhile, Warrington may have Ashton Sims (high shot) and Chris Hill (tipping) in danger of suspension.
Wigan Warriors: (10) 10
Tries: Gildart, Bateman
Conversions: Williams 1/2
Warrington Wolves: (8) 16
Tries: Jullien, Atkins, Currie
Conversions: Ratchford 0/2, Patton 0/1
Penalties: Ratchford 2/2
Wigan Warriors: S Tomkins; Marshall, Gelling, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Leuluai; Nuuausala, McIlorum, Sutton, Isa, Bateman, O’Loughlin.
Interchanges: Clubb, Powell, Tautai, Wells.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford; Hiku, Pomeroy, Atkins, Lineham; Patton, Gidley; Hill, Clark, Sims, Jullien, Hughes, Cooper.
Interchanges: Currie, Savelio, Philbin, Smith.
Referee: James Child
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan
Date/Time: Thursday 13th July 2017 – 20:00pm GMT